The following is the transcript of a recent White House meeting of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove. The Justice Department is probing this leak.
HASTERT and FRIST (hereafter, H&F): Thanks for seeing us, Mr. President.
POTUS: Hastie! Billie! Wassup?
H&F: To put it bluntly, Mr. President, we're worried about November. Our members are getting lots of flak back in their states and districts. Some of our guys even want to distance themselves from you.
POTUS: Wha' flak?
H&F: People are saying Republicans aren't competent enough to govern the nation.
ROVE: Just remind them America is at war. We're tough on terrorism. Democrats are weaklings.
H&F: Some people are comparing it to the Katrina disaster. The White House knew the levees were breaking but didn't take action in time, and still can't deal with the aftermath. Even “Brownie” is now taking pot shots.
ROVE: Terrorists were planning to bomb New Orleans long before Katrina. We stopped 'em because we're tough on terrorism. Democrats don't have what it takes.
H&F: Then there's the Medicare drug-benefit fiasco. Seniors still can't get the drugs they need.
ROVE: Terrorists were planning to bomb Sarasota, Phoenix, and West Palm, but we stopped them. We've saved the lives of millions of seniors because we're so damned tough.
H&F: People say the economy is lousy. The budget deficit keeps growing. The trade deficit is at a record high. The Dow is still in the pits. Most peoples' wages are still dropping and their health-care costs are skyrocketing.
ROVE: One new terrorist attack and the whole economy would go to hell. We're saving the economy because we have the guts to do what it takes to fight terrorism. Democrats don't.
H&F: Voters think we're a bunch of crooks. They're still upset about the corporate welfare in those energy and highway bills last summer and all the no-bid contracts to our friends. No offense, Dick, but that includes Halliburton.
CHENEY: Fighting terrorism requires profitable American corporations, including Halliburton. We're doing what it takes to keep them profitable and tough.
H&F: What do we do when Abramoff squeals? That trial is gonna hurt, especially when the press starts printing chummy photos of him and you and every one of us. And when all the White House-DeLay connections come to light.
ROVE: Jack Abramoff got the Indian tribes to help root out terrorism. And the only gifts Tom DeLay ever received were from tough counterterrorists. That's because Republicans have the guts to fight terrorism. Democrats are lily-livered.
H&F: People back home are saying we abuse power, we trample on the Constitution. Lots of them don't want government spying on Americans. They're uncomfortable torturing war prisoners and force-feeding hunger strikers in Guantanamo. They don't think the White House should leak the names of cia operatives just because their spouses disagree with White House policy.
ROVE: We're doing whatever it takes to keep Americans safe from terrorism. Democrats don't have the stomach.
H&F: Is this really all we have to say to keep control of Congress next fall?
ROVE: Yes. Democrats are so weak they haven't figured out how to use all our incompetence, corruption, and abuses of power against us. And they're so gutless they don't know how to respond when we say we're tough on terrorism and they're not.
POTUS: Thanks for droppin' by, guys. Really enjoyed the discussion.