Fleischer feared 'nucular' reaction

— Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer admits lots of folks asked him to say something to the boss about his mangled pronunciation of "nuclear." But as for actually bearing the bad tidings ...

In an appearance Thursday on CBS's "The Late Show with David Letterman," Fleischer, who left the White House staff this week, was asked about President Bush's much-noted pronunciation of "nuclear." The pronouncer in chief says NU-cu-lar rather than NU-cle-ar when talking about weapons of mass destruction.

"That might be why we haven't found them yet," Fleischer quipped.

Letterman then asked, "has anybody ever said to him, 'Oh, by the way, it's not 'nucular'?"

"Well, I've actually gotten a lot of mail about that," Fleischer said. "And I've thought about should I go into the Oval Office and say to the president, 'Mr. President ...'. And I haven't."

Fleischer's last day as Bush's press secretary was Monday. He plans to speak publicly and he is considering writing a book on his White House experiences.

Letterman asked Fleischer about the recent controversy about the inclusion of a claim in Bush's State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium from an unnamed African country.

"We didn't have solid enough information for it to be made into the president's speech, but if ever there was an issue that has been dramatically, ridiculously exaggerated and overblown, it's this one," Fleischer said.

Fleischer told Letterman that being press secretary was "a job that takes its toll."

"I just want to read the sports section first again," he said.


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