I’m still reeling from Monday night’s House shocker, but I want to congratulate Kal Penn for coming up with the best excuse ever to violate the Jerry Orbach rule. Predictably, there’s been some grousing from the peanut gallery that Penn is another Hollywood liberal who’s unqualified to practice politics (funny how we never hear those complaints against Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, John Rich, Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, et al); such comments apparently come from people who confuse Penn’s pothead Kumar character for the real-life credentialed scholar that the actor happens to be. (By the same logic, however, he knows more about Guantanamo than all the politicians who denied we were committing torture there.) At least some of his ideological opponents are giving him credit for following through on his idealism (he campaigned for Obama in ’08; see video above) as well as for giving up a lucrative gig to do something he really believes in. Who knows whether the public at large will take him any more seriously in his new role as associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison than the comment-board crowd does, but the Obama White House has been a lot less tone-deaf in coming up with clever ways to reach out to young people than, oh, every previous White House in American history.