On yesterday's Today show, Howard Dean did his best angry imitation of Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex" and/or Rafael Palmeiro's "I have never used steroids" performances. His voice rising, Dean insisted over Katie Couric's attempts to claim otherwise that:
"Katie, not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat. Not one dime."
Confronted by such intransigence, Katie politely observed that "we'll have to look into that and clarify that for our viewers." That's apparently just what the Today researchers did overnight, and Matt Lauer, with Tim Russert in tow, informed viewers this morning of their findings.
Said Lauer: "We went to the Center for Responsive Politics and technically Howard Dean may be correct but while 66% of the money in this situation went to Republicans, 34% of the money not from Abramoff but from associates and clients went to Democrats."
Lauer asked Russert whether Dems can turn this into strictly a Republican scandal and "wash their hands of this?"
Russert's response was unequivocal, and not good news for the DNC: "No. The issue is broad and wide."
The old adage says not to pick a fight with people who buy their ink by the barrel. The same might be said, Howard, of top-rated TV shows who count their viewers in the 5+ millions.