Last night I finally caught up with Scott McClellan’s appearance on The Daily Show, and was particularly enthralled by the flashbacks to his days as Press Secretary, when he bestrode the White House briefing room like a gibbering, bipedal sweat gland.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy respect for craftsmanship, but there’s just something grimly fascinating about watching a bad liar lie for a living — lacking the fluent sociopathy of his predecessor, McClellan was reduced to glaze-eyed, stammering repetitions of the daily talking points — because even though you know what he’s going to say before he says it, there remains a certain Damoclean element of suspense. Unlike the glacial performance of Ari Fleischer, Scott’s briefings seemed to buzz with a constant threat — or promise — that things could go horribly wrong at any moment; that he was always just one unusually aggressive query away from a total freak-out or an irrecoverable fugue state. It was entertaining, but nerve-wracking, like watching a funambulist with an ear infection.
All of which reminded me of one of my favorite bits that s.z. wrote for the old site. So in honor of McClellan’s reflections on his tenure at the White House, here’s a little World o’ Crap flashback to February, 2004 (with slight updates):
Can This Marriage Be Saved? A One Act Play
[Scott, a White House Press Secretary, comes home from work unexpectedly to find his wife having sex with another man.]
Scott: Mary Lou! What is going on here? What are you doing naked, with my best friend Bob?
Mary Lou: Let me start by taking the second half of your question first. As to whether Bob is your “best friend,” we’ve heard numerous opinions, but this is not a controversy that your wife believes she should inject herself into at this point in the process, and therefore I would refer you to Bob, who is in a better position to make a determination on this subject.
Scott: I don’t care about him, I want to know why you’re having sex with another man?!
Mary Lou: Scott, marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. Bob is a man, and I’m a woman, and you weren’t home, so I thought you’d be okay with it.
Scott: I’m not okay with it! You broke your marriage vows!
MaryLou: Scott, honey, just calm down. You know that I’m focused on the issue of marriage and feel that marriage should be protected, because it is an enduring institution in this country. So, we’re in agreement, right? Now, what did you do with your paycheck — I need to pay some bikini wax bills.
Scott: But, but, you promised to forsake all others, but now I find you sleeping with another man…!
Mary Lou: I know there’s a lot of back-and-forthing, and finger-pointing, and blame-gaming going on, but the real issue is that our marriage ceremony — which, I would just point out, you fully supported at the time — legally entitled us to engage in marital relations, or “sex.” The right to sleep with a man is therefore inherent in my authority as your wife.
Scott: But — you can’t just decide on your own that it’s okay to sleep with someone else! What about me?
Mary Lou: Scott, rest assured that your wife fully recognizes that you are a co-equal branch of this marriage. But sex is not a popularity contest, and you can’t expect a group of people to participate in the decision-making about who I’m going to sleep with, especially in dangerous times like these, when swift and resolute action is required if we’re going to achieve our objectives before my husband gets home.
Scott: I am your husband! I am home!
Mary Lou: Scott, you can point fingers all you like, but I’m not going to play the blame game. There may be some people in this room who really believe that finger-pointing and blame-gaming are appropriate responses to this situation, but I would remind you that this marriage is facing very serious threats, and I for one am not going to go down that road to playing the blame game.
Scott: No! You’re playing Hide the Salami!
Mary Lou: Scott, as I’ve said before, I cannot comment on an on-going sex act. After my orgasm, there will be plenty of time to discuss this issue, but as long as the intercourse is on-going, I can’t discuss it. Now why don’t you just calm down, have a drink or something to pull yourself together, and then we can all deal with this like adults.
[Scott storms out of the room and mixes himself a Malibu Rum and Diet Coke. 10 minutes later, Scott returns to the bedroom to find Mary Lou and Bob at it again.]
Scott: Mary Lou! Bob! You — you gutter politicians! You trash trollers! Cheating on me in my own bed!
[Mary Lou sighs, rolls her eyes, and appears vexed.]
Mary Lou: This was addressed previously, Scott. I’m not going to continue to respond to something that was already dealt with. I think that, again, this goes to show that some are not interested in the facts of whether or not I am your wife, but are instead trying to invent issues for partisan political gain. The American people deserve better, and I’m focused on acting decisively to meet those challenges.
Scott: You can’t change the subject this way! You betrayed me! And with my best friend too! Why shouldn’t I get my gun and shoot you both right where you’re lying?
Mary Lou: At a time when we are confronting dangerous new threats, we have to focus on our highest priorities, which are combating terrorism and confronting the spread of weapons of mass destruction and sexually transmitted diseases. From very early on in my administration as your wife, I made it a high priority to confront the dangerous new threats we face in this day and age. Let’s have an honest discussion about the type of leadership people are providing to confront those threats. That’s what the American people deserve.
Scott: What the hell are you talking about? Speak English for just once, woman!
Mary Lou: I gave your gun away, Scott. No more gun. But I’m glad we were able to achieve a joint resolve to work together to strengthen this marriage, which is a sacred institution, and I look forward to four more years of marital happiness.
Scott: You bitch! Why should I stay married to you? You vowed to cleave only unto me, but you cleaved to Bob! Twice!
Mary Lou: There’s going to be plenty of time to talk about the choices we face and the statements people have made. Why don’t you take the dog for a walk, and when you get back, I will show you undeniable proof that I’ve been faithful to you.
Scott: How could you do that?
Mary Lou: Your wife certainly is someone who does what she says she is going to do and someone who means what she says. And I think that’s reflected in the actions she takes.
Scott: Well, okay.
[He leaves with the dog, and comes back an hour later. Mary Lou is now in bed with Scott's brother.]
Scott: You whore! Cheating on me with my own brother!
Mary Lou: You’re taking everything out of context. It is sad to see someone stoop to this level, to say anything or try to do anything for political gain. The American people deserve better.
Scott: Oh, just shut up, shut up! I thought you were going to show me proof that you had been faithful?
[MaryLou shows him a copy of her marriage certificate, and a calendar with some days checked off.]
Mary Lou: There. The certificate is proof that I am your lawful wife, and since marriage is an institution between one man and one woman, how could I be in this institution with anybody else? And those days I’ve checked on the calendar were days that I was having my period, and didn’t feel like sleeping with anybody. So, that proves that I have honorably fulfilled my duties, and am a good and faithful wife. Now, could you give us some privacy? Thanks.