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Now, wee wouldn't be forgettin' what day 'tis

March 17, 2008 | 11:44 pm

In case you hadn't noticed, today was March 17, which is St. Patrick's Day. Which means everybody is supposed to be wearing a wee bit of something green. And paying tribute to the Emerald Isle. And all of that.

So before the clock strikes midnight, we need to tell this Irish tale. No doubt by total coincidence, the prime minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, happened to be visiting the White House today, and everybody was expressing appreciation to everybody else for the successful peace process there and for so many Americans -- some 35 million, according to President Bush -- claiming some kind of Irish heritage.

Bush noted that America's first St. Patrick's Day was observed in 1737 and that at least nine of the 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence "were inked by Irish hands."

Then, the president couldn't resist slipping in a little plug for a fellow Republican. "America," Bush said, "is richer for every Murphy, Kelly and O'Sullivan. I should have said McCain." And the crowd in the jolly East Room laughed and applauded. "Well, I just did," Bush added. More laughter.

Meanwhile in Scranton, Pa., in Whistles Pub, Barack O'Bama offered, jokingly, to buy everyone a round of drinks. The Illinois senator, who was wearing a very blue tie, made the rounds, greeting customers and posing for pictures with happy folks.

A reporter asked why he wasn't wearing any green. And O'Bama replied, "I sort of lost track." He promised to get a green tie for his dinner engagement.

Sure enough, later at the Society for Irish Women's St. Patrick's Day Dinner, there he was in a mint-green tie borrowed from a local supporter.

-- Andrew Malcolm