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.
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.
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."
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
"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?
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MR. McCLELLAN: Go
ahead, Mike. Saw you in the Bombay room with your little boyfriend. Is he
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.
MR. McCLELLAN: I said
keep it clean. You do, and I will.
Q: When --
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
Q: Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank