Published February 25, 2009
Vice President Joe Biden, tasked with overseeing the $787 billion stimulus package, has been having a little trouble with his "numbers."
During an interview on CBS' "Early Show" on Wednesday, Biden told viewers to check out a government-run Web site tracking stimulus spending, but admitted he was embarrassed because he couldn't remember the site's "number."
"You know, I'm embarrassed. Do you know the Web site number?" he asked an aide standing out of view. "I should have it in front of me and I don't. I'm actually embarrassed."
Biden, who seemed to indicate that he thought the Internet worked like a giant telephone, sounded an unusually Luddite note inside an administration often heralded for its mastery of the Web.
Web sites, as much of the "Early Show" audience may have been aware, are generally referred to by their URLs or addresses. The one Biden was searching for was Recovery.gov, which he announced moments later when reminded of the proper address.
Bloggers wondered aloud whether the vice president knew how to use the Web, though some correctly pointed out that Web sites do indeed use a number system, and are identified by their numeric Internet Protocol address.
A spokeswoman for the vice president had not offered comment by the time this article was published.
Biden isn't the first politician to make a serious flub concerning the ways of the Internet -- former Sen. Ted Stevens called it a "series of tubes" in a now-famous address on the floor of the Senate.
But this wasn't even Biden's first error involving the name of the Web site. During a nationally televised address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Feb. 20, he directed the assembled leaders to visit the stimulus site -- but sent them to the wrong one.
"We've already set up a Web site, Recovery.com, which will show where and how the money is being spent," he said, apparently unaware that the government has its own domain. Before a government tweak last Friday, Recovery.com directed Web users to a commercial research company.