Andrew Butcher from the Asia New Zealand Foundation watched Michael Fullilove's interview with Senator Joe Lieberman, and asks via Twitter how the Brits will feel about Lieberman's characterisation of the US-Australia relationship.

Describing the US-Australia relationship as 'closest' would indeed have been a diplomatic gaffe with the potential to upset not only the Brits but Israel, Canada and perhaps all of NATO. But what Lieberman actually said is that 'we don't have a better bilateral relationship in the world today than the one between the United States and Australia.'

That's subtly but crucially different, since it means there can be more than one country at the top of the podium. In fact, as Crikey has shown, quite a few countries merit this formulation from Americans, most often expressed as 'America has no better friend/ally than (fill in the blank)'. Presumably, speechwriters around Washington have a shortcut on their keyboards for this bromide, so regularly is it trotted out.

Here's a compilation put together for Danish TV (which we've featured once before) that makes the point rather well: