The Massive Roast Beef

Press Briefing Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:24 P.M. EST

MR. McCLELLAN:  I want to begin by reminding you all that the text I am reading here is taken from Barnes & Noble. What I want to emphasize it that this description of Mister Leno's book comes directly from the publisher.

Quote: "The Tonight Show's Jay Leno, the most popular man on television, draws on a true story from his childhood to make a generation of young readers laugh out loud."

Now I think that quote right there should be enough to give all of you pause. The most popular man on television? That shows a sort of unacceptable grandiosity, to suggest that Leno is more popular than the president. The arrogance is palatable. Let me remind you that when the president goes on television, he is on all the channels. Leno, the last time I checked, was only on one. So, if you follow this train of thought to it's logical conclusion, it becomes pretty clear that the Jay character in this vile diatribe, is really supposed to be the president. The large chin is nothing but a prop. This is a pretty flimsy piece of deception. But look at the target audience for "If Roast Beef Could Fly." Children. Innocent children. That's reprehensible.

There's more.

Quote: "
Nine-year-old Jay's family is larger than life. His mom is maniacally thrifty, his dad is extravagant, and little Jay always seems to be caught in the middle. So when Jay's dad decides that his next big "project" is going to be an ENORMOUS barbeque patio, the only way it's going to happen is if Jay, their neighbors, and their collie (the laziest dog in America) help him out."

Margo, show the image on the overhead. Here we have an illustration of the collie, the so called laziest dog in the world. Looks familiar, doesn't it? Collie. Colin. Despicable. The racism inherent in this portrayal is staggering. And don't forget, little children. Or as the publishers might prefer, 'young readers'.

Quote: "When the big day rolls around (three months late!), everything seems to be going well: There's more food than anyone (even Jay's family) could eat, and at the center is a HUGE roast beef that Jay would do anything to get a taste of. No one will notice if he sneaks a bite, will they? That is, until Jay's secret plan backfires!"

Leno says that the president would do anything to get a taste of that roast beef. Anything, even promulgate a false course of action, underscored by a secret plan. And who is Mister Leno to suggest that if the president did have a secret plan, which he certainly didn't, that it would fail?

Quote: "What is the secret weapon Jay uses to steal a bit of roast beef? How is he going to keep his dad from finding out? And finally, what could make a roast beef fly?"

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press: I ask each of you the same thing. What could make a roast beef fly? And with that, I will be glad to take your questions. Steve.

Q What about the Israeli proposal to withdraw from Gaza? Do you see that as still a possibility?

MR. McCLELLAN: You're off topic, Steve. Andrea.

Q: Do you have any words for countries or groups who maintain that nothing can be settled in the rest of the Arab world until the Israeli-Palestinian issue is settled? Are they using that as a stalling tactic?

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you using that question as a stalling tactic, little Missy? Leno's editor writes, and I quote, "After an over-the-top trip to Hardware Supermax for a heap of new patio materials, construction ensues." I'm not going to tell you any state secrets, but if I did, one of them would concern the Hardware Supermax.

Q: Israel's Foreign Minister, after his meeting with Cheney, said this morning at the White House that this is a message to Hamas leaders that they don't have immunity anymore. Do you think that cole slaw and macaroni is the correct way to deliver that message?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm going to quote again from the editor here who says that "the party is saved by more than four hundred pounds of cole slaw, eight tons of macaroni, and all the salad you can eat!" And I suppose that is the way to go, if what you're attempting is to appease the enemy. That's not the president's way.

Q: How do you make a roast beef fly.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm glad you asked. What I can tell you is that we had no knowledge that they were going to attempt to fly a roast beef. And I think we've made that very clear. Dr. Rice made it clear earlier on the shows, as well. But she also emphasized that there's always the possibility of a flying roast beef in the Middle East. And certainly, we have prepared, and we have learned from our experiences, and that is that.

Q: Scott, another question about the Jay Leno book. Why shouldn't his thinly veiled account of the war on terror in this administration, and past administration's, but especially this administration, be believed?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, I think one, if you -- you can only look to some of the Senate Democratic leaders who were on some of the Sunday shows yesterday -- Senator Lieberman, Senator Biden -- and they certainly discounted some of his comments about the barbeque. They said that -- and Senator Lieberman, I believe, said something to the effect that there was no basis in fact for that. The president likes barbecues, but in the literal sense. Not the metaphorical sense. I think that his assertions that there was something -- or his assertion that there was something we could have done to prevent the roast beef flying out the window from happening is deeply irresponsible, it's offensive, and it's flat-out false.

Q: What would motivate him to engage in, as you say, offensive behavior -- what you call offensive, his charges here?

MR. McCLELLAN: It appears from what I've seen that he's been more focused on the process than the substance. It appears to be more about Jay Leno than about the substance. For the President, it's more about the actions that we are taking to protect the American people. Mr. Leno has been out there talking about what title he had; you know, 'Tonight Show Guy', 'Late Night King', he's been out there talking about whether or not he beats the president and Mister Letterman in certain key demographics. So it appears to be more about the process than the actual actions we have taken.

Q: That seems a little simple, doesn't it, Scott? I mean, the process matters when you work for NBC,  and have to get the attention of superiors who ultimately have the President's ear to make a decision. So isn't that a little disingenuous to dismiss it as a process complaint?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, wait a second here. This is a gentleman that left stand-up, what, eight, ten years ago. Certainly let's go to the facts. He just wasn't very good, as opposed to the president, who's always been a stand-up guy. So Jay Leno's been on the tonight show for some eight years. This administration was here for some 230 days before the attacks of September 11th. So it's much easier for him to make fun of us than vice versa. Or versa vice, as Condi likes to say.

Q: Condi Rice made a similar point. Should we take from that that the President's view is that Jay Leno was part of the problem, not part of the solution, since all of these things happened on his watch, when his primary job was interviewing celebrities?

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I think Dr. Rice pointed out earlier today that she requested that some of his ideas be presented to the administration. He presented some of the ideas. Like Jay Walking, and the animal sketches, even though we know he stole the first from Stern and the latter from Carson. There were some that we took into account that were useful, like the Mumble Mouth routine, and then there were others that we didn't find as useful

Q: That doesn't answer my question.

MR. McCLELLAN: This was talking about rolling back macaroni. We were focused on eliminating macaroni. Eight tons. There is the implication that the president himself threw the roast beef out the window, or that he caused it to be thrown.

Q: Scott, you didn't answer my question, which is, by listing all those things that he was here for, is it the President's view that, in fact, he was part of the problem, not part of the solution?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was this administration's favorite comedian up until - well, until he quit being funny, and started bothering the president with all the WMD jokes.

Q: But you still didn't answer the goddamn question, it doesn't seem to me, does it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q: What? Are you both deaf and ugly? Does that answer the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it does. He was part of our efforts to go after the Clintons. He was a member of the joke making patriot team for several years, and we appreciate the service that he provided. But --

Q: Why do you think he's doing this?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in a word, he's an asshole. Why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. Roast beef, my ass.  I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book. Certainly let's look at the politics of it. His best buddy is Carrot Top, who is the principal comedy writer for Senator Kerry's campaign. The Kerry campaign went out and immediately put these comments up on their website that Mr. Leno made.

Q: Of course, he says he did raise those concerns --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Mike. Go ahead, Mike. You insufferable asshole.

Q: He says he raised those concerns --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Mike. Fart face.

Q: -- in the administration.

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Mike. Saw you in the Bombay room with your little boyfriend. Is he over eighteen?

Q: Scott, the whole point of his book is he says that he did raise these concerns and he was not listened to by his superiors.

MR. McCLELLAN: Just like I'm not listening to you, Mike.

Q: You're really suggesting the president is looking for a scapegoat now. And that the administration will try to intimidate anyone who stands up to them.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going. Mike is a faggot, Mike is a faggot, homo, homo, Mike is a faggot .Go ahead, Jim. And keep it clean.

Q: What?

MR. McCLELLAN: I said keep it clean. You do, and I will.

Q: When --

MR. McCLELLAN: Excellent question, Jim. When? Succinct. To the point. I think all of the rest of you press creatures can learn a thing or two from Jim. When? Well, it was actually presented to the President -- or, actually, it was completed on September 4th, this new giant roast beef strategy. That was the timing of it. Certainly there were -- there was a problem with the cole slaw and the macaroni, but we are confident that they will still be found.

Q: Let me just clarify one thing. When did the administration begin its work on the salad?

MR. McCLELLAN: We began very early on. I think it was actually the day before the big barbecue. But there is one thing you need to understand. There was not, nor will there ever be, enough salad for everyone to get 'all they can eat'. And the roast beef is not for everyone, just for those who have earned it. And Jay Leno is a lying, unfunny traitor in the employee of the cowardly John Kerry, who will tax you all. And Condi Rice is not implicated, although Rice Pilaf surely is. And President Bush is the most popular man on television, and always will be. And 911 could happen again at any time, particularly during the Tonight Show. And we have your number. And you better be careful with what you say, even if you're not saying it, you know, even if you're writing it down and pretending it's a giant fucking roast beef. So that's where we are.

Q: Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

2004, Mark Hoback