Of course he said nothing of the sort. Of course he was immediately Quaylized (as when Dan Quayle criticized the fictional TV character Murphy Brown for promoting single parenthood). And of course he will eventually be vindicated, as was Quayle (once safely removed from office) by an article titled, "Dan Quayle was right." But in the short run among those with short attention spans, the word went forth: Christian leaders are idiots.
The New York Times, unsurprisingly, led the way on this. Columnist Maureen Dowd's malicious megaphone shouted out the news that "Dobson outed SpongeBob," and then quoted a Nickelodeon spokesman as saying, "It's a sponge, for crying out loud." Lots of other journalists did the same.
But Dowd went on to use Dobson's remark as a way of renewing her attack on "Bush's brain," purportedly filled "with sugary visions of a quick and painless Iraq makeover." She described "the lovable and malleable president" who merely soaks up the ideas around him, "almost like a sponge. SpongeBush SquarePants ... lives in a bubble in D.C./absorbent and shallow and porous is he!"
Christians and conservatives can find good news and bad news in such mockery. The good news is political: As long as Dowdists are unable to engage arguments and instead depend on ridicule, the left will not rise again in American politics. The bad news is cultural: Those people who believe that people like Bush and Dobson are idiots are less likely to hear and absorb their message of personal and cultural renewal.
More people need to understand the games secular liberals play. Here's one rule-of-thumb: No matter how bad a story sounds -- particularly if it sounds bad -- recognize the pattern of defamation.