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Gibbs jokes about Boy Scouts' fight for survival

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today joked about his son’s Pinewood Derby competition in response to a question about the president’s opinion on how Boy Scouts in New York are fighting for their survival.

The question was raised by Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House.

“As the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America,” Kinsolving asked, “what is the president’s reaction to the New York Post report that because the Scouts have a policy similar to our armed forces, ‘New York institutions are barring Scouts from meeting or recruiting in all public schools’?”

Gibbs said he had not seen the report, and Kinsolving followed up: “Well, does he think that it’s fair for them to cut the Scouts out of this? How does he support – does he disagree with the Scouts or what?”

“Where are you on this, Lester?” Gibbs said.


“Yes, I do know where,” Gibbs said.

“I support the Scouts. Do you support the Scouts?” Kinsolving said.

“My son is – we’re constructing the Pinewood Derby car as we speak,” Gibbs said. “I think he’s going to be disappointed if his car doesn’t do well, but his father tends to be constructionally challenged.”

There was no direct response, however, to the issue raised by Kinsolving. According to the Post report, a legal victory for the Scouts, the right to exclude homosexuals from membership, has created a backlash in New York.

The report said institutions there are abandoning the Scouts, and authorities have barred them from meeting or recruiting in public schools.

While that doesn’t matter much for the rich, the Post said, the services the Scouts offered the less-affluent are sorely missed.

The paper cited Troop 759 in Harlem, where Scoutmaster Okpoti Sowah, a Ghanaian immigrant, has been leading children for three decades.

Sowah reported that if a boy has been with the Scouts five years, there is a 91 percent chance he’ll finish high school, and he is nearly twice as likely as a nonscout to earn a college degree.

In a second question, Kinsolving asked: “Chicago Tribune reports that five days after Scott Lee Cohen won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Illinois in the primary, Cohen withdrew after reports of beating his wife, using a knife to threaten a girlfriend prostitute, tax evasion, and use of anabolic steroids. And my question: Did the president ever have any concern about former lieutenant governor nominee Cohen being supported by Mayor Daley?”

“I don’t know who made what endorsements during the primary. Obviously the president, and many staffers here, were concerned about exactly what you read and think the right decision was made to leave the ticket,” Gibbs said.

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