Mock the Press

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Wednesday, July 11, 2007; 1:14 PM

At this morning's ribbon-cutting for the newly renovated White House Briefing Room, President Bush dropped in just long enough to rub reporters' noses in his cheerful refusal to take them seriously.

There would be no answering questions about the war, or Bush's recent assertions of executive privilege, or his role in the CIA leak case. Instead, the president was in full frat-boy mode, clowning around during introductory remarks by C-SPAN's Steve Scully. Despite Scully's effusive "thank you" from the press corps -- for letting them return to their West Wing space after a year of renovations -- Bush apparently felt Scully went on too long. "I like a good, short introduction," Bush jeered as soon as Scully gave up the podium.

Here's the transcript. "We missed you -- sort of," Bush said.

The president seemed most impressed by the improved air-conditioning in the previously overheated room, saying that the change means "a fellow like me would feel comfortable coming in here and answering a few questions without losing 20 pounds."

But of course he didn't. When reporters finally tried to ask questions, Bush waved them off.

"Maybe some other time," he said.

Then he came up with a little game: "Let me cut the ribbon -- are you going to cut it with me, Steve -- and then why don't you all yell simultaneously? (Laughter.) Like, really loudly. (Laughter.) And that way you might get noticed.

"Q It doesn't sound like you're going to answer --

"THE PRESIDENT: . . . I'll, like, listen --

"Q And leave?

"THE PRESIDENT: -- internalize, play like I'm going to answer the question, and then smile at you and just say, gosh -- (laughter) -- thanks, thanks for such a solid, sound question.

"Here we go, ready? I'm going to cut the ribbon. (Laughter.) Then you yell. I cogitate -- and then smile and wave. (Laughter.)"

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