Now that George W. Bush is more concerned with putting bombs on Afghans than he is about putting “food on your family,” the media have stopped laughing at his inarticulate ramblings. But last week’s Kansas City visit from White House communications director Karen Hughes persuaded us that the president just might have been taking the fall for her all along.

Hughes was the featured attraction at a March 6 kickoff luncheon of a group called “Women for Talent.” More than 200 women — some allegedly from Johnson County, Kansas, according to protesters and license plates outside — gathered at the Uptown Theatre to anoint Missouri Republican Jim Talent with their estrogen for his challenge of Jean Carnahan for her senate seat.

“President Bush likes to say, ‘Listen to your mom,'” said master of ceremonies Sandra Doolin Aust. “But he also listens to Karen Hughes.”

We gave that a try ourselves:

· Bush once told Hughes he’d entered politics “so his daughters could grow up in a more peaceful world,” she said. So far, so good, Mr. President.

· “We have captured, arrested or brought to justice thousands of terrorists,” Hughes reported. Really? Prove it.

· “One of the best reasons to elect George W. Bush as president was to have Laura Bush as first lady,” Hughes said. No argument here.

· “The president wants to capture and preserve” the cooperative spirit seen at New York’s ground zero by expanding national volunteer programs, Hughes said. She then advised the faithful Republican women that one way they could carry on the spirit of September 11 was “by helping get Jim Talent elected to the United States Senate!”

When it was his turn to speak, Talent unveiled an antipoverty program calling on poor women to be more like his own mom.

“She worked very hard,” Talent said, “and she married a man who worked very hard. That’s how she got out of poverty.”

Marrying right, like Jim Talent’s mom did, ought to satisfy every gal’s needs — after all, what woman doesn’t want talent?

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