Jones' Resignation Raises Questions on 'Czar' Role

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WASHINGTON -- The White House hopes it dodged another political bullet with the resignation of Van Jones, President Barack Obama's adviser for green jobs.
    
It's the latest in a series of political controversies as the White House tries to focus on health care.
    
Out of a Job

Like millions of others in this recession, Jones is out of a job. But he's not the victim of a tough economy - rather his own words.
   
First it was an expletive he used to describe Republicans blocking the president's agenda.
    
Then another video surfaced with Jones offering commentary about the Columbine school shooting.

"You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. Now a black kid might shoot another black kid," Jones said.
    
The remarks were made before he joined the administration. But his name also appeared on a petition signed after the September 11 attacks, suggesting that high-level government officials allowed them to happen.
    
In the end, it all proved to be too much.

After quickly becoming a lightning rod for conservative critics both on the air and on the Web, Jones decided it was time to go.

"The president and the CEQ accepted his resignation because Van Jones, as he says in his statement, understood that he was going to get in the way of the president," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told ABC's "This Week."

A 'Smear Campain?'
    
For his part, Jones said the petition never reflected his views.

In his resignation letter, he claims he was a victim of "a vicious smear campaign" and that "they are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

Jones' resignation has some critics calling into question the role of White House czars - with a hand in everything from the auto industry to the environment.

It's the latest in a string of headaches for the White House - which is desperately trying to regain the upper hand on messaging as it prepares for Obama's address to Congress on healthcare reform.

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