White House chief of staff John Sununu, not known for his comic wit, is turning to humor in an attempt to dispel the controversy surrounding his frequent trips on military aircraft.
President Bush did not mention the Sununu flap during a series of one-liners he delivered at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner Saturday, but his White House aide was bolder."What's the difference between Sununu and the Iraqi air force?" Sununu asked as he stopped to chat with one group of journalists.
"Sununu," he said, "had 30 more flights."
He then pointed to the lapel of his tuxedo, which was adorned with a silver pin in the shape of an airplane.
Sununu shrugged off the attention being paid to his use of government jets 77 times since 1989 for professional and personal trips, suggesting the dispute will blow over. At the president's request, White House counsel Boyden Gray is reviewing the policy that covers Sun-unu's travel practices.
And while Bush earned lots of laughs for the good-natured barbs he delivered at his press secretary, journalists and media organizations, others made clear that Bush does not consider Sununu's situation a laughing matter.
"I think you're going to see a sharply revised policy. I think you're going to see a tighter policy on the part of White House staff," Senate Republican Leader Robert Dole of Kansas said Sunday during an interview on ABC-TV's "This Week with David Brinkley." "It would be my guess the president is going to insist on that."