I missed the fun last week, but thanks to Ed, I can track the evolution of the talking point. First, Bolden told Al Jazeera that “perhaps foremost” among the duties Obama charged him with was making Islamic nations, specifically, “feel good” about their scientific achievements. Then came the day-after partial retreat with some deputy White House flack insisting that all The One meant was that NASA should continue to partner with other countries, including Muslim ones, in exploring space. Now here’s Gibbsy at today’s briefing, finally abandoning ship. In fairness, if you watch the AJ interview (the key exchange comes about a minute in), Bolden emphasizes that the outreach idea isn’t some diplomacy-for-diplomacy’s-sake measure a la Obama’s speech in Cairo but rather a self-interested attempt to boost Muslim contributions to collaborative international space endeavors from which the U.S. would benefit. That those contributions would be so valuable as to justify making this “perhaps foremost” among his duties seems … highly unlikely, but then as Ed noted, given the state of Obama’s space program, it’s not like we’re busy with more important projects at the moment. Exit question: Obama hasn’t spoken to Bolden yet to clarify his “perhaps foremost” duty?