Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert, George Bush and Joe Lieberman

The president thanks the speaker. The senator warns the parties not to make the scandal "partisan."

By Tim Grieve

Published October 6, 2006 1:51PM (EDT)

There aren't a lot of people out there who think Dennis Hastert ought to be cut some slack on the Mark Foley scandal. But through hard work and dogged reporting, we've managed to find two of them, and we're pleased to introduce them to you now. Ladies and gentlemen, meet George W. Bush and Joseph Lieberman.

The White House says Bush called Hastert Thursday to thank him for how he's handling Foleygate. "The president thanked him for going out and making a clear public statement that said the House leadership takes responsibility and is accountable," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino tells the Associated Press. Of course, that's not what Hastert did, exactly. While the speaker did utter the words "We take responsibility," he made it clear that he thinks the media, the Democrats, his staff and other members' staffs are actually to blame.

Still, we can understand why the president is grateful. If House Republican leaders had dealt seriously with the Foley case last fall, it wouldn't be available now to blot out all those unpleasant disclosures in Bob Woodward's new book, the striking surge in U.S. deaths in Iraq or the pathetic new job numbers out today.

What's Joe Lieberman's excuse? We don't have an answer for that one. As the Hartford Courant reports, Lieberman is pushing back against calls for Hastert's resignation and warning both parties not to make Foleygate a partisan issue. "I know some people are calling for Hastert to resign, but the truth is that unless he knows what he saw and he saw something he should have acted on, he deserves to have essentially a fact-finder to come in," Lieberman said earlier this week. "If anyone thinks they can make this into another partisan flap, it's not. It's very real and human. The House Republican leaders and, frankly, the Democratic leadership should not make it partisan."

Tim Grieve

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

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2006 Elections George W. Bush Joe Lieberman Roy Ashburn War Room