"Nobody messes with Joe," he said of Biden and his role as overseer of expenditures from the $787-billion dollar economic stimulus package signed into law last week.
"The line came from the president," a senior White House official said. The source said Mr. Obama added it to the text of his speech while doing a rehearsal on Monday. "It is 100 percent Obama, not a staff-written line," the official insisted.
And nobody in the House Chamber seemed to get a bigger kick out of it than did Biden – laughing heartily in the seat occupied for eight years by Dick Cheney, who rarely cracked a smile during a presidential address.
And the vice president was quick to seize on the image of enforcer-in-chief when it comes to the massive amount of government funds contained in the stimulus package.
"I'm gonna be a bit of a pain in the neck," he served notice this morning to Cabinet members at the first round of talks on dispensing money from the stimulus.
"We have to make sure this is done by the numbers, man," Biden said during appearances today on each of the network morning shows. "We have to make sure we know where the money's going."
The Administration is promising unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in spending the stimulus funds. At every opportunity, officials are telling Americans they can check how much of their money is being spent and for what purpose by logging on to a special website. But this morning, Biden had some trouble remembering its name.
VP Biden Defends Stimulus
"You know, I am embarrassed," he said. "You know the website number?" he asked aloud. "You know, I should have it in front of me, and I don't. I'm actually embarrassed."
Rodriquez tried to help him out of the situation, saying she'd get it later – by which time an aide helped the Vice President out.
"It is recovery.gov," he said, "recovery.gov!" It's up and running, he assured us.
Nobody messes with Joe. Or his memory.