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Evening At The White House Press Secretary Improv

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"I guess that last vestige of decency is gone." Ari Fleischer


He'll be here all week, folks. Or as long as the fall out from Scott McClellan's book continues to provide material for Bush apologists explaining why McClellan may not be a liar, but he has broken the press secretary comedy code.

He told the truth. Finally.

And with truth-speak comes an end to a fine standup career. Anyone who says that truth is funnier that fiction, probably has never seen a good comic or isn't familiar with what it takes to be a side-splitting White House press secretary.

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Good evening and welcome to the White House Press Secretary Improv.

"I think it's unethical to carry out a job and then turn around and kiss and tell," said Sheila "Shecky" Tate, former press secretary to George H.W. Bush.

Sure, if he's a terrible kisser.

BAM! There ya go. Whether a set-up or a punch line itself, it's funny. Great satire really. Though it could be irony. The comedic brilliance of the White House makes pinning down an exact designation difficult.

At the White House, or on their post see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, ignore the evil that will cause tens of thousands to lose their futures, tour, press secretaries are a droll sort. Sometimes, within satire, exists the approval of the very thing the satirist actually wishes to attack. In Shecky Tate's near perfect joke, she's actually saying that if you don't like the way the president is screwing up the country you should quit, shut up and continue to let American soldiers die.

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Funny? Sure. A little dark? Some of the best stuff is. Risky? Of course, but the great ones are always willing to take a chance.

"I'm not sure anything went wrong." - Bush Press Secretary, Tony Snow, on the pre-Iraq War planning.

Lie? Misinformed? Out of the Loop?

Nope. Just plain old biting wit.

The Washington Post reported that "both Fleischer and Joe Lockhart, press secretary during the Clinton administration, worry that the 300-page book might cause future presidents to be less candid with their press secretaries."

Less candid?! Who in the White House was ever straight with him? This is a guy who actually thought Karl Rove was telling him the truth. But that's why it's funny. Steven Wright or Ari Fliescher, take your pick. Using an absurdity and speaking it as if it's actually the truth is harder than it looks. Ask Dick Cheney how hard it was to keep a straight face when he did his "insurgency in their last throes" bit. You sound honest, but you're just feeding the public a line of crap. You know, sort of like Bill O'Reilly.

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