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Milbank: Karl Rove’s book ‘nearly made me choke on a pretzel’

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Every reporter loves a good quip. Some are better than others.

If an insta-poll were taken among mediaites at-large, seeking the best quips in mainstream press for Saturday, March 6, 2010, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank would probably take top honors.

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In his review of Karl Rove’s book “Courage and Consequence,” Milbank jokes that Rove’s apparent detachment from reality “nearly made me choke on a pretzel.”

Astute political observers may recall the January 2002 incident Milbank is referencing here: the time George W. Bush nearly choked to death on a pretzel.

But it’s not just a quip on the former commander-in-chief’s misfortune; Rove’s claims really are enough to make reasonable, cognizant observers do a double take.

That business about President George W. Bush misleading the nation about Iraq? Didn’t happen. “Did Bush lie us into war? Absolutely not,” Rove writes.

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Condoning torture? Wrong! “The president never authorized torture. He did just the opposite.”

Foot-dragging on global warming? Au contraire. “He was aggressive and smart on this front.”

Milbank also notes that Rove actually believes the Bush administration oversaw “the longest period of economic growth since President Reagan,” which is clearly not the case.

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It’s a claim that Rove has been peddling ever since voters kicked Republicans out of the White House and it has drawn the ire of even some Obama administration officials.

“The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus — with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion,” Obama adviser David Axelrod wrote in a Post op-ed published in January, jabbing back at Rove. “When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit — and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade.”

Milbank’s summary of Rove’s reality-challenging scroll goes on citing wild inaccuracies for a few more paragraphs before the writer sarcastically realizes that if Rove’s claims are indeed true, everything Milbank had ever written must be false.

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CORRECTION,” he writes with sarcasm. “Every article about George W. Bush ever written by Dana Milbank was wrong. The Post regrets the error.”

Milbank, who used to make regular appearances on the left-leaning news network MSNBC, is not exactly a favorite media figure for the political right. He made an appearance on the network in 2006 that particularly irked Bush supporters due to his bright orange hunting fatigues and eagerness to discuss the lawyer whose face had so recently cushioned a shotgun blast from former Vice President Dick Cheney. Fringe-right blogger Michelle Malkin labeled him a “clown” for the stunt and hit him for a lack of “objectivity” — although, in Milbank’s defense, he probably just didn’t want to get shot.

He’s since ceased appearances on MSNBC after a falling out with anchor Keith Olbermann in 2008 over a quote by President Obama that was apparently offered out-of-context.

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But the man sure can quip.

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