Now will you believe us when we say we’re kidding about the Bush cabinet being as gay as an Ethel Merman fan club? Real gay men are more familiar with the Pottery Barn returns policy. In Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward quotes Colin Powell illustrating the consequences of invading Iraq with a mass-produced if tasteful metaphor: “[T]he Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.” This bit of bad publicity (who wants to be associated with the State Department these days?) has Pottery Barn’s 300 thread-count sheets in a bundle: “This is very, very far from a policy of ours,” said a flak to the St. Petersberg Times.
Now the State Department is trying to put the pieces back together. Yesterday, a rep told Lloyd Grove that “I don’t think anybody from the State Department would ever have intended to cast aspersions on Pottery Barn’s commitment to customer service.” In response, Pottery Barn invoked what might be called the “Powell Rule”: You said it, you own it. Says a spokesman: “Well, it’s out there.”
“It’s upsetting and absurd that that analogy has been put out there,” the rep said yesterday. “You’d think that somewhere along the line they would have checked.” Yes, well. You could say the same thing about a certain United Nations address.