The White House actually called Americablog to say that it wasn’t Bush’s ‘hostile' middle finger that the world saw extended on Jay Leno, rather it was his elongated thumb. If anyone takes this White House at its word, they haven’t been paying attention.
Everyone Together Now: First Finger Salute Experiment
The best evidence supporting the contention that Bush flipped off the press is at The Litter Box:
"Try a little experiment for yourself. It’s OK. No one is looking. Hold your right arm up and extend your thumb. The thumb goes up and the rest of the hand goes up and right at about a 45 degree angle. There is a distinct “V” between thumb and hand. Nothing is visible to the left of the thumb.
Now try your index finger. The index finger goes up and the rest of the hand is all on the right. Again, nothing is visible to the left of the index finger, except maybe a little thumb bump, if your hand is unnaturally rotated inward. (Normally, when your arm is raised, the palm of your hand faces out, not forward.)
Now try it again with the, um, social finger. Even with the palm turned outward, part of your hand (the part extending down from the index finger) is visible to the left of the upraised finger.If you look closely at the picture, this is exactly what you see when you look at President Bush’s hand. Scientifically proven. I don’t know why anyone is surprised. It is something he obviously likes to do.” (see First Finger Salute close-up here) but don’t miss the killer photos at the Litter Box.
John at Americablog responds that he has a problem with the First Thumb Theory:
“I have to say, I'm not real convinced by the thumbs up excuse. It's possible, of course, but the video doesn't look like his thumb, and Bush has a history of flipping off reporters (there's a video we posted last fall of him flipping off a reporter in Texas while governor). (photo also)
There are also unconfirmed reports of Bush flipping off protesters last year. Bush called a NYT reporter a "major league asshole," and let's not even talk about VP Cheney's mouth. And while, yes, it would be really stupid of him to flip off reporters while on the Hill, well, it would be pretty stupid to lie to the nation about going to war, and to keep Karl Rove and Scooter Libby on staff after it's already been proven that they outed a CIA agent. I'm not going to put it past Bush to do something really stupid. ”
Go here for more on: "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times."
White House denials have led some to go back to the video and view it again and again. Wonkette says: “Upon many, many viewings, we think it could be his thumb. His hideous, elongated thumb.”
The evidence for the thumbs up theory? Bush has a deformed hand? Keith Olbermann reports that while many of us got a good laugh from the episode, those who were there say it was the thumb. I like Keith, but he is not infallible. His report is at best vague and unconvincing; it falls far short of the evidence to the contrary.
There is one witness who claims it was the thumb, a reporter who works for the publisher of the ultra-Bush-friendly Wall Street Journal. Given that crossing Bush has resulted in lost jobs for many a man and at least one woman, this source, like the White House itself, is simply not enough to convince anyone other than militantly loyal Bush fans.
George W. Bush is not exactly a model for civility. For many of us the most telling evidence is that when all is said and done this President’s past behavior provides no reason whatsoever to believe that he would not stoop to unpresidential behavior. Whether Bush targets journalists or world leaders, civility is simply not his forte.