[Warning—links may take you to audio, video, or text in which the "F" in "F Word" is followed by other letters in such a way as to create a word that might offend.]
Let's say a Vice President drops the F-bomb while telling a President how awesome he thinks his new historic legislation is. Firstly: this is great. Secondly: this leaves news writers in something of a bind. Let's look at how a few of our favorite sources handled this tricky writing challenge:
The New York Times: "Mr. President, this is a big ... deal," [Biden] said, adding an adjective between big and deal, that begins with 'f.'
FOX News: "This is a big f—-ing deal," he informed the president, without shorthanding the adjective in the sentence.
The Los Angeles Times: Headline: Vice President Joe Biden embraces health care bill signing with profane term
Newsday "This is a — big deal," he apparently told Obama while shaking his hand. And where you see — in the quote above, imagine a word that starts with the letter F.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Biden then embraced the president and said in his ear — loud enough for the mikes to pick up — "This is a big [expletive] deal." And he didn't say Fargo.
And I must say I am proud and moved that NPR went with "f-ing": "This is a big f-ing deal," he said to President Barack Obama this morning at the White House. (We've cleaned up his language a bit.)
In the interest of simplicity, from now on, I'm going to go with: Biden said to President Obama, "This is a big :) deal," except instead of a smiley emoticon, imagine there's a word that in some contexts means "lovemaking," as in: "This is a big lovemaking deal, Mr.President."