Copyrighted material

In McClellan's Own Words...*

Excerpt from Scott McClellan's blockbuster expose,' "What Happened"
as told by Steve Young
*The entire book has yet to be released but one cannot help but surmise the above would be included

Steve Young columns

When we walked into the Rose Garden together, surrounded by roses and gardens, for the first time I knew that my dream had come true. I would be working for was the most powerful man in the world, the one who makes the decisions that could send America into years of peace and prosperity or decades of death and destruction.

But enough about Dick Cheney.

I'm kidding, of course. President Bush was my boss and the Commander-in-Chief. No lie. I mean, not about that.

First let me say that there were great arguments between myself and my publisher over the title of the book. We had played with others. "I'm The Luckiest Guy In The World, Except Maybe For Dane Cook," and "I'm No Ari Fleischer. Really I'm Not. He Was The Guy Before Me," but my editor felt that the shorter the title, the more room they'd have for the "30 percent OFF" sticker at Costco's and Sam's Club, which to me seem like the same place. I mean all you have to do is look at their food court signs. But they swear their different companies. I don't buy it.

I always felt that just plain "Scott," with my picture on it would have been fine, but my editor said people might think I was just telling a story about Scott Glenn or that I was Scottish and that the extra "t" was a cover typo, which I'm told could be devastating to sales.

I had a problem with just "What Happened." I felt left too many possibilities. It could be read as a question as in "What (The Hell) Happened?" like I was overwhelmingly intimidated and confused by the entire experience. Kind of like "shock and awe," but without the Fox News graphics. Or it might be construed as a preface to a longer title, as in "What Happened...To Integrity." Thank God for the Writers Strike. No telling what that scallywag Jon Stewart would do with it. At least when Leno makes it funny you know he doesn't hate the country.

As White House Press Secretary, I spent nearly three years as a confidante to President George Walker Bush. Not close confidante where he would tell me his inner truths, but confidante in the way he would tell me a kind of truth that he wanted me to pass on to the American people. Like the "truthiness" Stephen Colbert, who spoke at the White House Press dinner, speaks of. By the way, President Bush thought Mr. Colbert's speech was interesting and unique. See, that's not exactly the inner-truth, which would be that he thought the speech "left a smell that a thousand matches couldn't get rid of."

But it was the seven fateful words President Bush said when he introduced me as his new Press Secretary that I'll never forget.

"I've known Scott for a long time."

There was one problem. It was not true.

He really only knew me for about three years before I got the promotion.

He followed that with, "I look forward to working closely with him to make sure that the American people, and, of course, the press corps, gets the information that's needed to reflect the philosophy and the decision making of this administration. He'll be able to do the job like Ari (Fleischer, my predecessor) did."

Being an avid Monty Python fan I knew the expression, "a wink is as good as a nod," it was at that moment I knew exactly what my job was to be. I also knew "Does she go? Nudge, Nudge," and "That parrot is dead," and in case the President chose to use them, we would be on the same page.

There were trying times standing at that podium to be sure, but the most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility

There was one problem. It was not true.

It's really difficult to restore credibility when most of what I had to say had none.

Like when I said I never hear rendition allegations of sending prisoners to Syria for torture.

There was one problem. It was not true. Although, to be honest, I was pretty sure we actually sent the prisoners to Jordan, then they would send them to Syria. So, in a way, that one was true.

And there was the time the President said I should always make sure to show proper respect to Helen Thomas.

There was one problem. It was not true. I mean, he meant it. Sort of. He made the "quotes" gesture when he said "proper." Then he kind of snickered when he said it. He snickered a whole lot.

Or when he said that David Gregory had tighter abs than he had.

There was one problem. It was not true. I made that one up. No one has a tighter, sixty-year-old six-pack than my former boss.

There was one problem. It was not true. Maybe he has the tightest abs on a straight-sixty-year old.

Look, I know my editor told me that if I overused the "one problem" expression that the words would lose their power, but I'm the author and, besides the fact, those two sentences were so damn cool. And if they were so damn powerful, then using them as many times as I could would make them even more so. Kind of like "9/11 changed everything," or "undermining the troops," or when I used "Protocols were in place and followed," forty-five times in one briefing to explain the choice not to interrupt President Bush's bike ride to tell him that the Capital, and his home, might be under terrorist attack.

There was one problem. It was not true. I used it forty-four times.

Even works as a joke.

Now watch this...

So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

Very cool, right?

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself.

Unfortunately, that part was true.

Award-winning TV writer, Steve Young, is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" ( and his "All The News That's Fit To Spoof" appears in L.A. Daily News opeds every Sunday(, right next to Bill's...really

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Albion Monitor   November 23, 2007   (

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