Eyes are still rolling among the White House press corps four days after the President’s top spokesman answered a question from HUMAN EVENTS about why the Bush address on immigration May 15th is posted in Spanish on the official White House website.
At the Friday morning gaggle (early morning, off-camera briefing), I asked Tony Snow why, given the President’s strong support for immigrants learning English as a requirement for citizenship, the President’s nationally-televised address on immigration was featured in Spanish on the White House website. No other languages, I noted, "are used as languages to put things on the President’s website."
"John, that goes on the bupkis list," the press secretary replied, "I don’t know. Oh, by the way, b-u-p-k-i-s. We have to correct that, too." This is a running joke between Snow and the reporters he has been facing almost daily since succeeding Scott McClellan as White House press secretary and holding his first briefing May 12th. At one of his earliest sessions, as he faced a signature "attack" question from press room grande dame Helen Thomas, Snow dismissed her query as "bupkis" — "beans" translated loosely from Yiddish, but translated strictly, meaning "not worth the paper it is written on." Snow’s deployment of the phrase brought down the house, and has been dusted off at a few subsequent sessions.
Snow also uses the term "bupkis list" to describe questions he genuinely does not know the answer to but will try to get answers for. At the beginning of th Friday (May 19) gaggle, he announced that since there will be no on-air briefing, "we will publish the gaggle a bit later so you can all consult." To the question of whether there will be a "bupkis list" for gaggles, Snow said "if there’s a bupkis list, we will attach the answers in the form of footnotes."
Sure enough, when the transcript of the gaggle came out, there was a footnote to serve as an answer to my question about the Spanish translation of the immigration address: "Spanish translation on the White House website is guided by OMB policies for federal public websites and an EO [Executive Order] 13166 by President Clinton."
At the same gaggle, Snow voiced the White House’s endorsement for amendments by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) and Ken Salazar (D.-Col.) to make English the national language. "And I think — and we have supported both of these," he said.