I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the audacity of the fake press briefing FEMA staged last Tuesday, in which agency reps, pretending to be reporters, lobbed softball questions at Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson, allowing him to ramble on and on about the greatness of FEMA's response to the California wildfires. No media were actually at the event, though reporters had been given an 800 number to call in and listen on (but not ask questions), and part of the agency's live feed was aired on Fox News and MSNBC.

The White House has proclaimed itself shocked and appalled by FEMA's stunt. But odds are they're just miffed that the charade was so poorly handled that it was detected, thus ruining any chance of future use by an administration already famous for its willingness to dress up its PR efforts as legitimate news. I mean, just think of all the positive "press" that, handled shrewdly, having members of the administration interview each other could have yielded for the struggling Bushies in the coming months: Condi Rice questioning Karen Hughes about the brilliant success of Hughes' campaign to improve America's image in the Middle East. Michael Mukasey talking with Michael Chertoff about the glories of widespread warrantless wiretapping. Fred Barnes Josh Bolten grilling President Bush about his subtle, masterful handling of everything from immigration reform to Iraq. And, of course, Dick Cheney leveling with Dick Cheney about the urgent need for us to invade Iran. 

Thank God these clowns are as incompetent as they are ethically flexible.

--Michelle Cottle