McClellan: Bush is OK with Cheney explanation, and you should be, too

The White House press secretary doesn't answer questions about alcohol use.

Published February 16, 2006 6:49PM (EST)

Scott McClellan says that the president is "satisfied" with Dick Cheney's explanation for how he came to shoot Harry Whittington, and he won't address questions -- including those about alcohol use -- that still linger about the incident.

At today's White House press briefing, McClellan told reporters that Cheney answered all the significant questions about the shooting during his appearance on Fox News Wednesday; that "average Americans" aren't interested in learning more about the shooting; and that only "the most partisan of people" and "conspiracy theorists" would suggest that the secrecy with which Cheney handled the shooting is somehow a metaphor for how the White House has stonewalled investigations on other fronts. At the same time, McClellan refused to say whether the president had pressured Cheney to make a public statement about the shooting. "Obviously there are internal discussions that we have, and I'll leave those internal," he said.

McClellan seemed eager today -- as he did earlier in the week -- to put the Cheney shooting behind him. As the AP's Ron Fournier notes, that may not be the best strategy: Some Republicans, Fournier says, are "pleasantly surprised" that media interest in the shooting has shifted attention away from the criminal case against Scooter Libby and claims that Cheney may have authorized some of his leaking.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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