THE BUSH BULGE….I know that this whole “Bush Bulge” thing seems like a bit of a joke, and I suppose in a way it is. But I’ve got a dead serious question anyway: what the hell is it?

After the bulge initially appeared in the first debate (top photo), the White House simply denied anything was there. “There was nothing under his suit jacket,” Nicolle Devenish, the Bush campaign’s communications director, told the New York Times. His tailor was trotted out to say it was just a seam pucker.

But in the second debate (middle photo), the bulge was still there, and it was no seam pucker. It was clearly a square about six inches on a side. Salon wrote about it and included a picture that indicates Bush wears the device when he’s dressed casually too.

Then, in the third debate, it was still there (bottom photo). Same deal, a square about six inches on a side ? and drawing a pretty quizzical look from Vanessa Kerry.

Look, I don’t think it’s a transmitter beaming secret prompts into Bush’s ear. But as these pictures from each of the three debates shows, there’s very clearly something there. The White House can’t just blandly write it off as a weird internet rumor when photos from three separate debates all show it.

So what’s going on? The Bush campaign has denied it’s a bulletproof vest but hasn’t otherwise commented. Is it a back brace? A medical contraption? A secret security device of some kind? (If so, it’s not a secret anymore.) Why hasn’t the White House press corps asked Scott McClellan about this and demanded a straight answer? How can they allow themselves to be blown off about something this peculiar?

Shouldn’t someone get a serious answer to this question? He is the president of the United States, after all.

UPDATE: More bulge pictures here. Lots more.

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