This was a big get. And I’m really not sure how it happened. My phone rings last night, and it’s The Man. Below the jump is a transcript.
SQ – Hello?
BO – Hey.
SQ – (Long pause). Come on!
BO – No, really.
SQ – Um, congratulations, sir?
BO – Thanks, man. Hey, listen, can you come over to the White House starting tomorrow? I’d like you to be there. It would mean a lot to Michelle and me.
SQ – This isn’t really happening, is it?
BO – Of course it’s real, and it’s me.* For one thing, my Treasury Department and I are announcing a cap on executive compensation for financial institutions receiving government assistance tomorrow. You should be there.
SQ – What’s the cap?
BO – Bonuses can’t exceed $500,000, and if part of the compensation is in stock, it can’t vest until taxpayers are paid back. I’m gonna call it “shameful” again.
SQ – First of all, you wouldn’t say “gonna”; you’d say “going to.” Second, does that really work when it’s a shameless practice? I mean, where’s the teeth? Journalists catching and shaming these execs? I bet Chuck Todd will wryly note on camera that journalists aren’t getting any stimulus and later stump Gibbs for a moment.
BO – Well, T-Geith and I, and our whole team, feel that we’ll put enough public pressure and force enough sunlight with our new rules that companies won’t be able to get away anymore with the excesses that have Americans so outraged. Remember that whole “era of responsibility” part of my inaugural speech?
SQ – Yeah, I was there.
BO – Purple Tunnel of Doom?
SQ – No, Yellow. It was nice. I ran into Paul Begala walking to the gate and accosted him for calling us “90210” before the Oxford debate. But the Purple Tunnel disaster was epic. I can’t tell you how many of your organizers who worked for you for two years didn’t get to attend your inauguration because of that.
BO – You can tell me, I’m a doctor.
SQ – Now you’re stealing my standard Airplane! quotes.
BO – Cillizza stole your line about Daschle’s Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.
SQ – Which I in turn stole from Dave Oberembt, one of your rockstar organizers. You should have put him and maybe two other organizers on the job for a week before the inauguration, no Purple Tunnel fiasco. But speaking of Daschle, can’t believe you brought that up. Today was a tough day, huh?
BO – That was a rough one. We set the stage, we even get Max Baucus to come out in solidarity, everyone was ready for the battle, except Tom in the end didn’t want to go through with it. He’s a friend. I screwed up.
SQ – That’s the second Cabinet misfire. This Richardson thing looks like it could get bigger, too.
BO – Yeah, Bill didn’t do me any favors on that.
SQ – Can I quote you on that?
BO – Yes.
SQ – Awesome. Halperin will link to it. O’Reilly will even think it’s real.
BO – Yeah, that guy’s a sucker.
SQ – You charmed him when you went on. That line about spotting him 14 in a one-on-one game to 15 was great.
BO – The guy’s in his 70s. Are you kidding?
SQ – What about your new foil, Rush Limbaugh? How many would you spot him?
BO – Does it matter?
SQ – Well let me ask you something that does. Who’ll be the new head of HHS? Health care is probably your biggest fight this year.
BO – Gingrich. Definitely.
SQ – (silence)
BO – Newt’s got a lot of good ideas, and we need to be bipartisan.
SQ – (silence)
BO – What’s wrong with that idea?
SQ – It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
BO – Even worse than when N.C State point guard Chris Corchiani said during the 89-90 season, “You know, Coach Valvano... he’s been accused of a lot of allegations...”?
SQ – Why don’t you just get Dick Cheney?
BO – Look, a really big part of my brand is showing the country how above partisanship my new administration will be.
SQ – Dude.
BO – All right, all right, no Newt.
SQ – You know, I thought you’d be a lot more eloquent. In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope and all that.
BO – The gimmick works better this way.
SQ – So, will I get a seat in the press room?
BO – If you guys had gotten Indiana right, I think that would have happened.
SQ – I knew you’d win Indiana. We were there.
BO – Doesn’t count. You’ll have to stand. There’s always 2012.
SQ – When will Gibbs take my first question?
BO – July?
SQ – Well, I want to ask why you have a mandate and all this political capital and you’re not seeming to use it. Aren’t you going overboard? I’m a blogger. All the bloggers want to know what you’re doing. The signal you’re sending is that bipartisanship is more important than using the bully pulpit, but there’s a lot of worry you’re diluting the stimulus bill, that you’re chasing a false idea that the Republican caucus will see the light if you keep appealing to their patriotism. Take a look at Josh Marshall today.
BO – Tomorrow. The premise is I called you last night.
SQ – Look at what Josh Marshall will write tomorrow. That’s what I want to ask Gibbs – how close are we to Plan B, given that Republicans are insisting on tax cuts at the expense of job-creating things like infrastructure?
BO – Infrastructure? Trying to get on Maddow? Look, Gibbs has this whole baseball analogy. Tomorrow he’s going to say we’re in the bottom of the fifth inning and there’s a sausage race coming up. Milwaukee is the reference, I think.
SQ – You carried Wisconsin by 14 points, after it was the closest state in 2004. People in Wisconsin decided the Bush tax cuts policy, escalating the income gap while chasing after a trickle-down mirage, sucked. If they liked it, they’d have voted for McCain.
BO – How about if I say when I sign the reauthorization for CHIP tomorrow afternoon: “Now, in the past few days I’ve heard criticisms of this plan that echo the very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis – the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can address this enormous crisis with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges like the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive. I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.”
SQ – Great. Let’s see more of that muscle.
BO – So, will you swing by the White House tomorrow?
SQ – Twist my arm. Fine. Let me ask you this. What if I don’t realize that when you walk in the first door under the awning, it’s actually the Briefing Room, and if there’s already a press conference going on with a full room of reporters asking questions and you’re right near the front and people start looking at you, and you’ve never been in there before, how would you lean against the wall?
BO – Nonchalantly.
SQ – How often do you think we can have this conversation?
BO – It depends. Maybe once a week.
SQ – Well, thanks for the invite.
BO – Sometimes, just sometimes, there are nights like this.
SQ – Iowa! Calloused hand by calloused hand.
BO – See you tomorrow.
* No, it isn’t.