Oh sweet readers, you should have put your money on April Ryan, because in today’s gaggle Ms. Ryan asked the Beer Question that was at the center of yesterday’s betting pool.
Q Scott, the Vice President spoke yesterday to Brit Hume, but everything is still not in a nice, neat package that the White House wants to make it look like it is. Some are still concerned with the fact that the Vice President was not interviewed by local police until the day after. And now we’re hearing that there was alcohol at lunch, a couple of hours prior to, and the investigators did not get a chance to talk to the Vice President or find out the level — the blood level — or what alcohol level at that time. That is not a nice, neat package. And there’s still a concern about —
MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t think you characterized the full picture there, April. I think you ought to look at what law enforcement officials have said on that very matter. And I think most Americans believe that this issue has been covered thoroughly, and most Americans recognize that the Vice President is first and foremost concerned about his friend. So I reject this characterization. I think this room and this town sometimes gets overly caught up in this. But the American people appreciate the answers to the questions that have already been asked.
Q But the Vice President himself addressed the issue that he had alcohol prior to — hours prior to. And no one tested —
MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll refer to —
Q — no one tested in the hours prior to. And no one tested —
MR. McCLELLAN: April, if you want to continue to pursue this, you can do that. I think most Americans recognize this is what it is, which is a hunting accident, a terrible hunting accident, where someone was injured —
Q If an average person —
MR. McCLELLAN: — and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Whittington. We want to see him recover fully.
Q That is very true.
MR. McCLELLAN: If you want to over interpret things, that’s your business. The American people have heard the answers.
Q But Scott, what the average American — if that situation were to be the case, they would be investigated, and a blood alcohol level tested and taken that day.
MR. McCLELLAN: Maybe you ought to look at what the sheriff’s department put out about that very matter. And they interviewed people, April. Because you are not giving people a full picture when you characterize it that way. It’s already been provided by law enforcement officials, by eyewitnesses. And the Vice President has provided those answers, too. He was very thorough in his responses to the questions that were asked yesterday.
Again, if you want to continue to pursue this, that’s your business. We’re going to continue to focus on the priorities of the American people.
Q Also on this subject, does the President feel that it was appropriate to give the discretion to the Vice President to make those decisions — as he described to us yesterday — about disclosure, at a time when he was understandably under enormous personal duress, concerned about his friend, having just been through a traumatic event. Is that the right time for him to be making those decisions, when you have a formal apparatus here to deal with disclosures to the public?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, Kelly, like I said, I think we’ve been through these issues thoroughly over the last few days. I think the American people are looking at this and saying, enough already; let’s focus on the priorities that are most important to this nation.
But we are continuing to focus on the priorities that the American people are most concerned about, like the ones I talked about at the beginning of this briefing
Q Scott, one of the top priorities for the American people, no doubt, is their confidence in their leaders. And this has been an administration that has made it very clear that credibility and just telling the facts was important, that it’s clear that that’s what you guys do. And I asked you about this in the morning gaggle, you said that you thought I’d taken it out of context, or misunderstood, so I’ve gone back and re-read the transcript. After the Vice President went through the entire course of events why he asked Mrs. Armstrong to do the talking, he was asked, “Does it raise the question whether you could have headed off the firestorm if you had put out the word to the national media,” and the Vice President’s response was, “Well, who was going to do that? Are they going to take my word for what happened?” Does the Vice President believe that his word is not credible with the American people?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that the Vice President feels like I do, that sometimes in situations like this there is a tendency to over-interpret what was said. I think what the Vice President was referring to was the fact that he was involved in this hunting accident. He was the one who accidentally shot his friend, and he feels horrible about it. He wants to see his friend fully recover. He felt that Mrs. Armstrong, who was an eyewitness, could provide the most credible account of what occurred. She was not someone that was involved in this accident. And that’s all he was saying.
Outside of the Beer Question, here is the Question of the Day.
Q One other quick one. Vice President Cheney talked yesterday about the trauma of seeing his friend fall to the ground when he shot him, and I was wondering whether this has caused Mr. Cheney to reflect on the kind of trauma that’s experienced daily by the men and women in the military who have to shoot people?
Holy Moonbats! Your Daily Les has been Malkinized!
Q Among a considerable number of very strong media criticisms, syndicated columnist Michelle Malken, this morning described as — in her words — “circus antics of clown journalism 101, one print reporter is going on television wearing an orange hat and vest, and a TV reporter yelling at you that you’re a jerk.” And my question: Do you honestly believe Michelle is wrong, or will you evade?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I haven’t heard her specific comments and I haven’t had a chance to take a look at them —
Q Well, it’s in the paper, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me point out a couple things. One, we talked about this earlier in the week — there have been some legitimate questions and legitimate issues that have been raised. At the same time, I think that those questions and those issues have been addressed. They’ve been addressed in a very thorough way. I went out of my way to be as responsive as I could be earlier in this week. The Vice President thoroughly addressed all the questions that came up yesterday in his nearly 30-minute interview with Brit Hume. Brit Hume is a very respected journalist, and I think that I’ll leave it to others to make judgments, or get into that kind of —
Q But is Michelle wrong? Are you saying she’s wrong, or do you want to evade?
MR. McCLELLAN: — or get into that kind of analysis. I’ll leave that to others.