Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Wanna Play Ball Scarecrowotty?
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan:

Q Just one thing. You just said, we would not be in this situation if Senate Democrats had not blocked the energy policy in May, 2001. Prove that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Senate Democrats are the ones that had been holding up, through their procedural moves, holding up the Senate moving forward. The House moved forward, and they moved forward quickly --

Q But how would that --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and so the Senate Democrats are the ones who are holding this up through procedural moves. You know that there's a very close balance in the Senate. You're very aware of that. And there are procedural moves that they can use. Some Senate Democrats didn't even show up to vote on this energy policy last summer, I might point out.

Q But how would passing the President's energy bill in May of 2001, have changed OPEC's mind in March of 2004?

MR. McCLELLAN: It would of -- what it would have done, it would have helped reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy; it would have increased domestic exploration and production; it would have expanded conservation; it would have increased energy efficiency. We need to take all those steps. That's why I said, we need a comprehensive plan. It would have also provided us a modern electric grid, as well, to address the electricity crisis that we faced last year.

Q When we talked about President Bush testifying before the 9/11 Commission last week, with you, and the length of time, you never mentioned the possibility of the Vice President testifying with him at the same time. This does seem to be recent shift that they would testify together.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't get into discussions that we have on an ongoing basis with the Chairman and Vice Chairman. Our Counsel's Office stays in close contact with the Chairman and Vice Chairman and commission on an ongoing basis to make sure that we're doing everything we can to help them move forward on their important work. So they've been in discussion with the Chairman -- our Counsel's Office has been in discussion with the Chairman and Vice Chairman for quite sometime on these issues in terms of the President's and the Vice President's meetings. And we always work in a way to make sure we are helpful to the commission so that they can get their work done.

Q For the two of them to testify together?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's -- we came to an agreement and that's where the discussions ended up.

Q And in terms of getting the information to the commission in a timely fashion, as important as that is, it seems that if the President testifies for an hour or two, which is what we talked about, and if the Vice President were to testify for an hour or two, we're only talking about a difference of two or three hours in the commission getting its information. So what difference does that make?

MR. McCLELLAN: You're talking about a sitting President and Vice President of the United States, as well. And this is -- this is a good way to help them get the information they need to do their job. And they -- and the commission, I might point out, unanimously welcomed the decision.

Q If they have different recollections, wouldn't it be more helpful to the commission to hear from them separately?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think this is a game of 'gotcha.' This is about making sure that they have the information they need to do their job. And that's the spirit in which we're working. They already have much of the information they need. This is a way for them to sit down with the President and Vice President and learn additional insights into how they go about piecing all this information together. And this is a good way to do it.
Q One more thing about the 9/11 Commission. In that same paragraph of Mr. Gonzalez's letter saying the President and Vice President will be able to testify together, it also stipulates that only one staff member on the commission, itself, could actually take notes. Why that stipulation?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's unusual. I think if you look back at all the meetings and interviews that have occurred with administration officials, I don't think there's anything unusual about that. All 10 members of the commission will be present, if they all show up, and be able to ask whatever questions they want. And the President and Vice President look forward to answering all of their questions.[Nitpicker emphasis]
Just when you think they might actually demand some answers ("prove it") ... not that Scotty answered what the significance was in terms of efficiency for Edgar and Mortimer to testify together either but it was entertaining nonetheless.


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