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Credit I always say

Credit, I always say, where credit is due.

And with that in mind, tonight we're awarding Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) the first annual Heather Wilson "I think the American people are a bunch of god-forsaken idiots" Award.

Last night, Wilson was on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 show, carrying water for the president on the WMD shenanigans. Fair enough, I guess. Everyone's gotta try to make the best of a bad situation.

She would have at least gotten an Honorable Mention for a particularly loopy point about a connection between al Qaida and 'Iraq'. But she hit it out of the park with this one.

After detailing all the reasons why the president's pre-war rationales for war make sense in retrospect, she uncorked this beauty. "And to me," she told CNN's Heidi Collins, "the most important thing was his biological weapons program, which we've now confirmed he was continuing to pursue up to the day of the invasion, and the ability to deliver those biological weapons against Americans on American soil."

An on-going biological weapons program? Really ... Continuing research into delivery systems for biological weapons attacks on the United States mainland? She really needs to bring her data to David Kay and the president. The president, I think, would find Wilson's new findings really helpful right now.

In all seriousness, where do they get these jokers? Lie, lie, lie.

Then there's Condi Rice, who gets this year's Honorable Mention.

Condi was on Larry King last night. And I had really high hopes she would take home the big prize since with these two you pretty much know it's going to be a train wreck. Sort of like Barney Fife interviewing Dr. Evil.

As it happened, it was a pretty placid affair. But there was at least this. We'll call it the "certain stocks" defense. (itals added)

It is true that certain stocks of weapons that we thought were there that frankly the intelligence services around the world thought were there, that the United Nations, the inspectors, as late as March of 2003 believed that they were there saying that it wasn't credibility, that Iraq couldn't account for its weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, we've not found those stocks, but what we have found is hundreds of weapons of mass destruction related activities hidden from United Nations inspectors. We found and interviewed people who've talked about how they were hiding these programs from the United Nations.

If it's not immediately clear why this line from Condi represents the silliest and most shameless sort of mumbo-jumbo, see this excellent column by Fred Kaplan in Slate.

If you see statements from anyone who you think should knock Rep. Wilson off her throne, please drop me a line.

There are several new

There are several new story lines opening up tonight on the Guard issue. In addition to the bizarre dental records release noted below, a number of news outlets are running with the allegations of former Texas Guard official Bill Burkett, who has said for some time that the president's Guard records were "cleansed" by campaign staffers back in 1999.

The most detailed run-down seems to be in USAToday.

Kevin Drum notes how the authors of the piece have a (good) history with the source, Burkett, thus arguably lending his story more credibility.

In general, Drum's site, Calpundit.com, continues to be the invaluable source in making sense of all the different moving parts of this story -- which documents mean what, who says the president did what when, etc.

Can I say this

Can I say this is getting a little bizarre?

Thank you.

This is getting a little bizarre.

Scott McClellan says no blanket release of the president's military service records. No medical records. No disciplinary records, if they exist.

But dental records? Bring it on!

Late on Wednesday, according to this story in the Associated Press, the White House released "a copy of a dental evaluation President Bush had in the National Guard in Alabama during the Vietnam War to rebut suggestions from Democrats who have questioned whether the president ever showed up for duty there."

The White House says that this dental exam at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama on Jan. 6, 1973 provides further proof that the president completed his duties in Alabama. Why it proves that, I'm really not sure.

Then there's this: "The White House obtained the dental record, along with other medical records it did not release, from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colo., McClellan said. The record was accompanied by a statement from Dr. Richard J. Tubb, the president's current physician, who stated that he read Bush's records, which covered a period from 1968 to 1973, and concurred with the doctors' assertion that Bush was "fit" for service. "The records reflect no disqualifying medical information," Tubb said.

What's going on here?

White House gets in

White House gets in trouble on the National <$Ad$>Guard story.

White House can't get out ahead of the story.

White House starts to panic.

White House leaks the story that the president will endorse a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

A) Coincidence or B) An effort to change the subject?

We imply; you decide.

(Oh, by the way, a bunch of the reporters asking McClellan the questions think it's B. But don't let that influence your choice.)

On Meet the Press

On Meet the Press, President Bush promised Tim Russert he'd authorize the release of all his service records, right?

Not so, says Scott McClellan: "No, I think the question was payroll records, payroll records that would show you served. It was relating to the issue of whether or not you served."

So, those ambiguous payroll records are all he's going to release.

Is the president willing to release any medical or disciplinary records that might clear up the contradictions found in the attendance and payroll records? Thus McClellan ...

"These were all issues that came up four years ago," McClellan told the White House press corps this morning, "as I talked about yesterday, here in this room. I think what you are seeing is gutter politics. The American people deserve better. There are some who are not interested in their facts. They are simply trolling for trash. And there are great challenges facing this country, and the President is acting decisively to meet those challenges. Instead of talking about the choices we face when it comes to policy decisions about our nation's highest priorities, some are simply trolling for trash for political gain. And the American people deserve better. They deserve an honest debate about the choices we face. They deserve an honest discussion and look at what type of leadership the Commander-in-Chief is providing in a time of war, in a time when we are confronting dangerous new threats. It is very clear from the records that the President fulfilled his duties. He was honorably discharged. That's all documented."

I think that's a 'no', right?

That little speech was preceded by this exchange with one of the reporters in the room ...

Q: Quickly, Scott, National Guard records; supposedly there are additional documents in the President's personnel file. Are they being reviewed with an eye to possibly releasing additional documents?

Scott McClellan: Well, if there was new information that came to our attention, we would certainly let you know about that. Q: Has the President's file been forwarded to Washington for review?

Scott McClellan: I don't know the status of where it is. That was, I think, the Department of Defense. It's my understanding the Department of Defense asked that those records be sent here, and we expect that we will receive some information, as well.

Q: So they are reviewing it?

Scott McClellan: -- receive that information, as well. I'm sorry?

Q: So DOD is reviewing his file?

Scott McClellan: I don't know what they're doing with it. I'm just telling you it's my understanding that they have requested that that information be sent to the Department of Defense. We expect that we will have that information, as well.

Can't come clean. Won't release the records he said he would. Sorta seems like there's a problem lurking in there, don't it?

The president hits the

The president hits the 50% approval mark and he comes out for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.

What lever does he pull when he hits 45%?

Spin spin spin. Dodge

Spin, spin, spin. Dodge, dodge, dodge. Withhold, withhold, withhold.

Can you think of another verb? No? Me neither. So let's get started.

On Meet the Press, the president was asked if he'd authorize the release of all his service records.

All of them.

And he said, "Yes, absolutely."

He promised. But he keeps on not doing it. He's sure trying to make it look like he is. But he sure ain't.

For some reason he just can't quite bring himself to sign off on the release.

The idea here is that the president waives his rights under the Privacy Act and tells the relevant authorities, 'Release all my service records to whichever reporters or organizations want to see them.'

But he just refuses to do it.

The payment records out today do give some evidence of what the president was doing during the year in question. But to say they raise further questions is something of an understatement.

It's long been known, for instance, that in the late spring of 1973, Bush's commanding officers in Texas reported that they couldn't write an evaluation of him because "he has not been observed" at the base in Houston. That didn't raise any red flags because, though, because they believed he was then serving in Alabama.

Yet these new records seem to say that Bush actually was doing drills in Houston.

In fact, as the Washington Post notes, on the very day that his commanding officers were writing that he hadn't been seen on base -- May 2, 1973 -- these new payment records say he was actually on base logging in hours.

Go figure.

The president could clear this up by just authorizing the release of all his service records like he said he would. Now we're on to day three. But he still won't do it.

Drip, drip, drip.

Given the presidents record

Given the president's record as a businessman, and since he's now run the country hopelessly into debt, isn't it about time he sells the country off to some rich friends who will swallow the loss so he can move on to greener pastures?

A couple quick points.

A couple quick points. First, if you're following this Bush military <$NoAd$>service issue, you should be reading Kevin Drum's column. Kevin's all over the nitty-gritty details of the relevant documents. And while some of his points -- as he himself says -- remain speculative, he's on a trail that could turn this whole story upside-down.

In any case, be sure to visit his site.

Also, here's this morning's gaggle on the new limited, White House-selected records release ...

QUESTION: Scott, has the White House come up with any more documents or information to buttress the President's assertion that he fulfilled his obligations in the National Guard?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we have provided some additional information from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado. The records will be released shortly, and the records that we will be releasing include the annual retirement point summaries, which we previously made available during the 2000 campaign, and these payroll records documenting the dates on which he was paid for serving. The point summaries, as I have discussed with you all, document that he fulfilled his duties. These records clearly document the President fulfilling his duties, and we will be releasing those very shortly.

QUESTION: Are the payroll -- we haven't seen the payroll records before, but we've seen the point --

MR. McCLELLAN: Nor had we, yes. QUESTION: We have not? MR. McCLELLAN: No. QUESTION: But we have seen the point summaries before; is that what you're saying? MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Well, we had made them available during the 2000 campaign to those who asked. QUESTION: So the payroll records include, like, where he was being paid and date and, like, the specifics -- MR. McCLELLAN: You will have them shortly and you'll be able to look at them; there are several pages of documents. I'm pulling them together. Yes, we will make them -- we will make them available. QUESTION: But they weren't -- it wasn't released -- MR. McCLELLAN: No, we did not have this. We were not aware that this information existed during the campaign, on the payroll records. QUESTION: Scott, those payroll records won't reflect whether he actually appeared for duty; is that right? I mean, they'll just show that he got paid, which there was an -- MR. McCLELLAN: You are paid for the days on which you serve in the National Guard -- QUESTION: But there was an -- MR. McCLELLAN: -- that's why I said these records clearly document that the President fulfilled his duties. QUESTION: Well, there was an opinion piece in the Post this morning in which the author said he didn't show up at all and he continued to get paid for several months. MR. McCLELLAN: I think the records clearly document otherwise. QUESTION: Can you tell us how you -- MR. McCLELLAN: And we also will include a statement from Mr. Lloyd, who's now retired from the Texas Air National Guard, who lays out some of the facts about the President's point summaries. QUESTION: Can you tell us how you came upon these documents, if they haven't been seen since -- the President said since 1994 people have been looking for this. MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, actually, we -- that's why I said it was new information that came to our attention. The Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado, it is my understanding, on their own went back and looked for these records. Now, during the 2000 campaign we had reached out to the Texas Air National Guard and it was our impression from the Texas Air National Guard that -- you know, they stated they didn't have them and it was also our impression from them that those records did not exist. QUESTION: -- on their own, or the Department of Defense requested them? MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, the -- QUESTION: Because the Department of Defense that they requested the records -- MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not familiar with what the Department of Defense has requested, but it is my understanding from -- we've talked with the Personnel Center, and the President has authorized the release of these records. We now have them. They did send them to us. But it is our understanding in talking with the Personnel Center in Denver that this issue -- that this was -- you know, as I talked about some of the outrageous accusations that were being made again this year, that had previously been made, they apparently on their own went back and looked for these records, when the issue was being raised again. QUESTION: The Department of Defense has said that they requested them. MR. McCLELLAN: You'd have to talk to the Department of Defense about it. QUESTION: Scott, how do you square the -- MR. McCLELLAN: But I think the Personnel Center may tell you that they went ahead and had gone back to look at these records. QUESTION: How do you square the records from the Texas Air National Guard with the idea that he was supposed to be attached to a unit in Alabama at the time? MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was still a member of the Texas Air National Guard. He was -- he received permission, or temporary permission to perform what is equivalent duty with the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Alabama, when he was there in the latter part of that year, the October-November time frame. QUESTION: Right, so he was actually -- MR. McCLELLAN: So he was still serving as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. QUESTION: So regardless of what state that he was performing his duty in, the records would still be issued by the Texas Air National Guard? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, these are records from the Personnel -- I mean, we're going to just make available exactly what they gave us from the Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado. QUESTION: But are these an indication that he served in Texas at that time, or in Alabama? MR. McCLELLAN: This documents that he was paid for the days on which he served. And you will have the dates -- QUESTION: But in which state -- MR. McCLELLAN: It will show the dates on which he was paid. QUESTION: But in which state? MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry? QUESTION: Which state was he serving at the time? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, we'll have the records here for you shortly, so you'll be able to look at those documents yourself. QUESTION: Are you asserting that these documents put the issue to rest? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I previously said it was a shame that this was brought up in 1994, it was a shame that it was brought up in 2000, and it is a shame that it was brought up again. I think you'd have to go and ask those who made these outrageous accusations if they stand by them in the face of this documentation that demonstrates he served and fulfilled his duties. The President was proud of his service in the National Guard. He was honorably discharged because he fulfilled his duties. QUESTION: Exactly how did the documents get to you that you said you were not aware existed? And how about the letter from Mr. Lloyd? Is that something that he voluntarily sent in, or did the White House ask for it? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we had a discussion -- we had a discussion with him, and he's previously been on record stating that -- stating some of these very facts, that the President met his -- met the requirements needed to fulfill his duties. So he's previously been stating that. But we had discussions -- I'll check the exact specifics on that. I think we may have reached out to him so that he could again say what he had said previously. QUESTION: Scott, if I could read you -- MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms of the personnel records, like I said, that was something that it came to our attention that the Personnel Center in Denver -- QUESTION: You did not request it, it came to you? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, when we reached -- I'm trying to -- let me double-check, but we found out that they had some additional records and contacted them and the President is the only one that can authorize a release of his records. And we received those records and the President has authorized the release of those records. As he said, he wants to make everything available. QUESTION: When did you receive the records? When? MR. McCLELLAN: Late yesterday. QUESTION: Scott, if I read you correctly, this is not going to answer the question of where he was serving at that time. MR. McCLELLAN: Well, during -- he received -- it was, like I said, in the October-November time period he was in Alabama. He was performing equivalent duty in Alabama. QUESTION: But you seemed to indicate, though, that these records will not indicate where he was. MR. McCLELLAN: But he was still a member of the Texas Air National Guard. QUESTION: Right, but you seemed to indicated -- MR. McCLELLAN: They'll indicate the dates on which he was paid for his service. QUESTION: But they won't indicate where -- MR. McCLELLAN: I wouldn't read anything into it until we release the records, which will be very shortly. Then you'll have them, then we can talk about them. QUESTION: But they will not stipulate where he was serving? MR. McCLELLAN: We can be clear on it when we release the records, John. That's what I'm trying to tell you. We're going to release the records. You'll see that he was paid for the dates on which he served -- QUESTION: Somehow I don't think those records are going to tell us where he was serving. MR. McCLELLAN: They will show that he was paid for his service. And you get paid for the days on which you serve. QUESTION: Right, but they won't say where he was. MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we're going to release the records shortly. Just hang on. QUESTION: Who in the White House has been handling it? Is it the Counsel's Office, or who -- MR. McCLELLAN: Dan Bartlett has been involved in this. QUESTION: He reviewed the documents last night? MR. McCLELLAN: He previously, during the 2000 campaign, tried to gather as much information as was available. QUESTION: And has he been the one who has been dealing with it now? In other words, if these came to the White House last night, Dan Bartlett was burning the midnight oil reading these last night? MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that he was burning the midnight oil. He received the information. QUESTION: Scott, when does "soon" mean? Does it mean -- MR. McCLELLAN: Very soon. QUESTION: Like in an hour? Or are we talking about -- MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if I can get off this podium, then I can get all that information together for you and we can release it. QUESTION: Can you tell us once again -- MR. McCLELLAN: Several documents to release. QUESTION: Can you tell us once again Lloyd's name and what his objective is? MR. McCLELLAN: I'll have that for you. You'll have his statement, it'll have his exact name, you'll have everything here shortly. QUESTION: Any explanation as to why he served the minimum hours required? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, you have to look at the different time periods. And it showed that he fulfilled his duties, John. QUESTION: But, still, it's the minimum requirement. You can go to college, you can get a C, or you can go to college and get a 4.0. MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know which time period you're referring to. I mean, the President fulfilled his duties. He was proud of his service, John. He fulfilled his duties. And there are some that have made outrageous accusations. And I think you need to ask those individuals if they want to continue to stand by those outrageous accusations in the face of documentation that clearly demonstrates the President fulfilled his duties. QUESTION: Was he just busy doing other things, or -- MR. McCLELLAN: John, the President fulfilled his duties. And if you want to question other people who fulfilled their duties, that's your prerogative. I won't -- QUESTION: Do you know of any other documents that exist that are pertinent to this subject? MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry? QUESTION: Are there any other known documents -- MR. McCLELLAN: This is what we know that is available. And that's why we're making it available to you. QUESTION: Is there anything else that you know that exists? MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said, this is what we know that is available that exists. QUESTION: I know you know it's available, but is -- MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't. No, I don't. QUESTION: In other words, you don't know if there's anything available from -- QUESTION: Anything else? QUESTION: -- that would have come from Alabama, that would be in the Personnel Center? MR. McCLELLAN: No. QUESTION: You don't know of anything else that's pertinent to the subject -- MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said yesterday that if there's additional information that we would keep you posted. And that's exactly what I'm doing here today. QUESTION: Scott, if there is additional information, will the President release it? Does he want it all out? MR. McCLELLAN: He said -- he answered that question on Saturday, when it aired on Sunday.

More to come ...

Late word from the

Late word from the White House is that they're releasing some pay stubs which will verify the president's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama.

We'll see what they say. But as Richard Cohen notes in his column today, it wasn't that hard at the time to play hooky and still get paid.

More to the point, this is still the White House selectively releasing records. As nearly as I can tell the president is still refusing to waive his Privacy Act rights and allow the government to release all his military service records to the press, without having them filtered through the White House.

We should have more information on this shortly. Check back soon.