It’s been a long time since the phrase “most transparent administration in history” has been regarded as anything but a punchline. Even a spokesman for the State Department couldn’t keep a straight face earlier this month while trying to make the claim in front of the assembled press corps.

It’s no surprise, then, that plenty got a good chuckle Wednesday when White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest himself had a letter to the editor published in the New York Times in which he complained that a recent opinion column “did not acknowledge the important and unprecedented steps that the Obama administration has taken to fulfill the president’s promise to lead the most transparent White House in history.”

This really is the most bizarre election cycle in recent memory: the White House press secretary is complaining to one of its biggest water carriers about journalists not giving credit to the Obama administration where it’s due. “If President Obama’s government transparency effort is not even noted by The Times’s media columnist,” he frets, “then why would future presidential candidates make it a priority?”

Why would future candidates make transparency a priority? Hopefully, because it’s the right thing to do, simple as that. If not that, then because the law compels them to, and the people and the press demand it. If not that, then only to cast themselves in sharp contrast against the current administration.

Sorry, no partial credit will be granted for “intentions” or “effort,” only results.