“It’s Just a Little Surreal”

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I just read the WH briefing that Karen referred to in her “liger” post and, well, the Napoleon Dynamite parallel is born out many times in this remarkable presser. A slightly edited selection of highlights:

Q Okay. And just lastly, it’s a little surreal — I mean, how is it possible —

MS. PERINO: You’re telling me.

Q Well — that you can’t give an opinion about whether the Vice President is part of the executive branch or not?

MS. PERINO: All I know is that —

Q It’s a little bit like somebody saying, “I don’t know if this is my wife or not.” (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: I think it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

Q No, but honestly, I mean, there’s no —

MS. PERINO: No, honestly, I think it’s more complicated than that. I do.

Q Dana, for 200-plus years, everybody from civics class on up has had a certain understanding of the way our government works. And this EO clarifies more than 200 years of constitutional scholarship about the way our system works?

MS. PERINO: Maybe it’s me, but I think that everyone is making this a little bit more complicated than it needs to be. The President writes an executive order; he says —

Q I’m talking about the part where the Vice President says that there’s a question about whether or not he’s part of the executive branch.

MS. PERINO: And the point I was trying to make to you before is that I —

Q This really falls into “sky is blue” stuff.

MS. PERINO: For the past two centuries the Senate has provided payment to the Vice President for his duties as a member of the government. I understand that he has roles in both branches. I am — I don’t think that it’s as clear-cut as you’re trying to make it.

Q That the Vice President of the United States is —

MS. PERINO: I think there is no denying that he has functions in both the legislative and the executive branches. That is a fact.

Q But it seems like the Vice President is saying he’s not responsible for the rules of either of those —

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: It’s not an — that’s irrelevant because the President never intended for the Vice President to be subject to the executive order.

Q No, he introduced the topic. The Office of the Vice President introduces that into the argument, into the debate; “well, we’re not part of the executive branch.”

MS. PERINO: I think that that is also a fact — and as I said to Kelly, I’ll see if I can get more from the Vice President’s office to see if they — how they connected the two, or if they did.

Q He can argue he’s part of both, but he can’t possibly argue that he’s part of neither. And it seems like he’s saying he’s part of neither.

MS. PERINO: Okay, you have me thoroughly confused, as well.

And, cynically:

Q He did it for a couple of years before that. He just was doing that out of the good of his heart, or —

MS. PERINO: I think so. (Laughter.)

RELATED: I did a little bit for GMA this ayem about this, and the very pop-cult-savvy reporter included some nice illustrations of Cheney’s place in the American imagination:

So elusive is this vice president, the New Yorker magazine once ran a cartoon in which theologians debated the existence of Cheney.