It’s gaggle time once again, let’s begin with Chimpy’s jury duty.
Q Scott? Follow up — another subject. Has the President been summoned for jury duty in Crawford? And if so, will he serve?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. Good question, and I can update you on that. At this point, we’ve never received a jury summons from the court. We checked, but when we learned about it, I think through media reports, we did reach out to the court to find out about this jury summons. And apparently, this summons was for Monday, December 5th. We have since called the court to inform them that the President has other commitments on Monday — (laughter) — and that he would like to reschedule his jury duty. And so we’ll be working with the court to reschedule his jury duty. The judge, in fact, was the one who we reached out to and contacted, and he indicated that that would be fine and that he would work with us to reschedule. (Laughter.)
Q Is this the first time the President would have received a summons since becoming President?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don’t — oh, since becoming President.
MR. McCLELLAN: It’s the first I can recall off the top of my head. I’d have to double check that, though.
Q Is he going to get Gonzales to get him off again?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Ooooh, I can practically smell the smoke rippling off of what remains of Scottie’s hair. Nice one.
Now, on to the Pentagon’s version of Armstrong Williams
Q Okay, got your point. What’s the White House opinion on the military using this Lincoln Group to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we’ve seen the reports. We first learned about it when we saw the reports yesterday, I think in the Los Angeles Times was the first place that that was reported. We are very concerned about the reports. We have asked the Department of Defense for more information. General Pace has asked people to look into the matter and get the facts, and so we want to see what those facts are.
Q Well, the military has admitted that they’ve been doing it. Does the White House find that acceptable, unacceptable?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what the Pentagon has said is that they don’t have all the facts; they want to gather the facts and then talk about it further. We want to know what those facts are, too. We are very concerned about the reports that we have seen.
Cue Helen Thomas.
Q Who’s watching the store, really? How can we spend millions of dollars to plant positive stories in Iraq and nobody around here knows —
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is —
Q — anything about it? How is that possible?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is based off some media reports. We want to find out what those facts are.
Q How did they get their hands on the money to begin with?
MR. McCLELLAN: You might want to direct your questions to the Department of Defense to find out more information, Helen, because they’re looking into it.
Q But it isn’t a separate world. It’s your world.
MR. McCLELLAN: That’s why we’re trying to find out the facts.
Go ahead, Martha.
And a little Big Time snarkiness fro the press corps.
Q Scott, what’s happened to the administration’s analysis of the insurgency or the enemy, whatever the preferred term, is between Vice President Cheney’s statement last spring that it was in “the throes of defeat” and the three categories that were delineated in the —
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think the Vice President commented on that very quote that you just brought up, and he talked about it in a little more detail than you did, so I would go and encourage you to look back and see what he said. In terms of what we have said, you can go and look at what the President said just yesterday.
Q So you —
MR. McCLELLAN: So I what?
Q Are they not in the throes of defeat?
MR. McCLELLAN: You need to look at what the Vice President said about those remarks. That’s not the full characterization of his remarks.
Q — extended his remarks on that, has he?
MR. McCLELLAN: He talked about it, and that’s not the full characterization of his remarks.
We close with your Daily Les.
Q Okay. And my last one — in the President’s giving to Muhammad Ali the nation’s highest civilian award, he praised Ali as “the greatest of all time” and said he was so pretty, and a man of peace. The Washington Post noted that Ali lost his boxing license for three years when he refused to serve in the army due to his allegiance to the stridently anti-American, anti-white Nation of Islam. And my question: Does the President believe the Post is wrong to mention this history?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President was very pleased to honor Muhammad Ali and several other distinguished Americans, and even some people who have led in other parts of the world, with the Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest honor. And what he said when it comes to Muhammad Ali is what he stands by.