TONY SNOW, WHAT WOULD THEY DO WITHOUT YOU. I know he has a good reputation among the Beltway Cool Kids -- how good is it? Check this out -- so the question naturally arises as to when it was that Tony Snow took on the role of Mr. Stupid. First, there was the nasty shot at Helen Thomas. Then, he got up and told the world that the president believed that stem-cell research was "murder," which he had to walk back yesterday, probably because, in the internal White House polling, the answer "C: No, because this administration is as dumb as a box of rocks" scored in the mid-90s. Then, there was this little tidbit from today's gaggle:

Well, I think -- I don't want to characterize satisfied or dissatisfied. It is clear that there is -- that there is work to do to secure Baghdad. And General Casey has made no secret of that, and other spokesmen in Baghdad have made no secret of that. So now we're working with the government to say, okay, what can we do. What can we do to go ahead and get into those neighborhoods, deal with sectarian violence, but also deal with the fact that in some cases, there really is just gangs of rowdies?

"Gangs of rowdies"? Even if it's true, yowzah. You will recall that there was manufactured hell to pay when John Kerry used the word "nuisance" in a complicated context during a discussion of terrorism. Now, we have the official spokesman for a White House that insists its war in Iraq is the central front in the fight against an existential threat to the country talking as though our troops are chasing down a bunch of kids who just knocked over a fruit stand. I sure hope what they're paying him for this gig is worth it.

--Charles P. Pierce