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This administration is corrupt. Corrupt!

In response to Tony Snow's use of the sarcastic phrase, "I'm shocked. Shocked," while covering up for Bush's inappropriate (and probably illegal) briefings of diplomats, Last Plane to Jakarta reminds us of the phrase's origins:

It is spoken by Captain Renault, played by the immortal Claude Rains. Captain Renault is a corrupt Vichy official on the take. When he closes down Rick's Cafe Americain, he states loudly that he's "shocked, shocked" to learn that gambling is going on there. The punch line of the scene is that as soon as Renault has delivered the line, a croupier hands him a wad of cash: "Your winnings, sir."

The ongoing simplification of this nifty little exchange - to dumb it down so that it means "well, duh!" - is perhaps not surprising, but something kinda awesome happens in the process. We now have the President's press secretary using the words of a corrupt Nazi-sympathizing police captain - fictional, to be sure, but drawn from real life - as a way of rebuffing allegations of impropriety within the administration. It is as if the speaker were chastising the press for not taking administrative corruption as a given, like the sun rising in the east. This is one of those situations where the irony seems both subtle and too broad to be true.

These briefings clearly violated the Hatch Act, which bars partisan political activity by diplomats. And the administration doesn't give a flying fuck. They are, after all, above the law.

Hopefully the Dems will sic the Sergeant-at-Arms on their asses!

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