When George W. Bush summoned reporters into the room of the White House where he was watching election results come in, the news anchors could only speculate on why. It's not protocol for candidates to brief reporters mid-Election Night. It wasn't even 10 p.m. yet on the East Coast. The race wasn't even close to being called. What could Bush want? On ABC, Peter Jennings and George Stephanopoulos remembered that in 2000, Bush took the upper hand early on, claiming victory and giving Al Gore the aura of a loser, a power play that served Bush well during the recount battle. Would Bush, before polls were even closed in the West tonight, cast himself as the early winner again? We were wondering if Bush wanted to influence voters who had yet to cast their votes. Or even more dramatically, announce that he had finally caught Osama bin Laden.
But what actually happened turned out to be much more bizarre and anti-climactic. When CNN rolled the videotape, the cameras captured Bush and his family sprawled onto couches, and the president looking nervous and strained. With so many lightbulbs popping in the room, the scene had the look of a splotchy antique movie reel. And then there was Jenna. For reasons we can only chalk up to nerves, the excited twin was yelling over and over again "Barney, Barney!" -- and if you didn't remember the name of the first dog, since the cameras never showed the little beast, you would have thought the First Family was sitting around watching children's TV rather than Fox News.
And then we got our much-anticipated message from Bush: "I believe I will win, I feel good about it. Watching the returns with my family and friends. Going to be an exciting evening," he said, finally.
Well, we couldn't agree more. And now, after that non-event, we return to our originally scheduled programming, Wolf and his wall of 72 television screens.