Presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs seemed to have forgotten how much his boss enjoyed Wanda Sykes' acid comments about Rush Limbaugh and 9/11 when he said today that, "there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection, rather than comedy, no doubt 9/11 is part of that." The president also laughed when Sykes said she hoped Limbaugh's kidneys fail.

One might think that a black-tie dinner sponsored by the White House Correspondents' Association and attended by the president and much of the rest of the Washington political hierarchy would be an inappropriate forum for such "jokes." But such is the poisonous atmosphere in this Capitol these days that such dinners, and there are lot of such dinners, have more than once been the scene of such comments.

If a conservative comic had made such a joke about a liberal commentator — accusing him of being a drugged out terrorist and wishing him organ failure — the comments would immediately have been condemned as hate speech, a term no one seems to be applying to Wanda Sykes today.

Comics, though, are not famous for good taste, and the reaction to Sykes may be the most telling thing. Rush Limbaugh said not a word today. The president's reaction speaks for itself.

Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for FOX News Channel.