Via Mediaite, a longstanding mystery solved: Yes, things can get worse without Gibbs at the press briefings. There were three possible ways to answer this question. One: Burton could have taken the Jon Chait line and asked people to lay off Tony Hayward already. Hayward, after all, had a pretty busy few days last week too, no? But Burton can’t do that because Rahm Emanuel already demagogued Hayward for attending a yacht race over the weekend — on the very day, mind you, that Obama and Biden hit the links for a few hours — and besides, they need Hayward as their Snidely Whiplash to keep the public focused on blaming someone other than Obama for the spill.

Two: Burton could have insisted that Hayward deserves every bit of grief he gets but thrown conservatives a bone by admitting that the left’s criticism of Bush for spending time in Crawford or playing golf during the early days of the war was also overblown and unfair. The problem? Bush is an even bigger, more useful villain in the Hopenchange pageant than Hayward is, sort of an Emperor Palpatine to BP’s Darth Vader. Can’t go defending him, especially if it means knocking lefties who are already peeved with The One for not quite being the socialist of their dreams.

Three: Burton could have dodged the question and then said something smug and tin-eared about how much better off we all are when Obama gets to practice his putting. Any guesses which option he chose? Click play and watch this drive.