Bush's actions over the past eight years have, at times, seemed more like a slapstick comedy routine than the serious business of leading the free world – and, for that, our senses of humour salute him.

At the 2006 G8 summit, Bush was accused of violating diplomatic protocol by “groping” a fellow world leader. In a gesture of friendliness, the tactile Texan was caught by Russian TV crews approaching German Chancellor Angela Merkel from behind, putting both hands on her shoulders and giving them a gentle squeeze. Merkel, caught off-guard by the impromptu massage, threw her hands into the air to shake off her unseen assailant. A year later, at the end of a joint news conference with Merkel, Bush promised there would be no repeat. “No back rubs,” he quipped to the smiling chancellor.

At the same summit, an open microphone recorded Bush swearing with his mouth full of food. After greeting our then prime minister with the words “Yo, Blair”, the president, unaware the conversation was being recorded (or, would later be broadcast), told his British counterpart that Syria should press Hezbollah to “stop doing this shit” in Lebanon. After George W’s colloquial greeting, Blair was widely mocked as “Bush’s poodle” – their relationship more that of a master and his dog than political equals.

A year earlier in 2005, Bush tried to make a quick exit from a press conference in China after a meeting with Chinese president Hu Jintao, but found himself thwarted by locked doors. After answering only a handful of questions from US reporters, the president strode towards the ornate doors and tugged at both handles unsuccessfully. Laughing, he said: “I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn’t work.”

While preparing to board Air Force One at a Texas airfield in 2003, Bush accidentally dropped the First Dog – a Scottish terrier called Barney – as a crowd of children watched in horror. The hapless president quickly scooped up the uninjured canine, but not before the incident had been captured on camera.

Despite the manufacturer’s claims of user-friendliness, a stand-on scooter proved too much of a challenge for Bush in 2003. Stepping onto the Segway outside his family’s Maine estate, the president lost his balance and toppled off the machine. Leaping to safety, he landed on both feet and successfully mastered the two-wheeled electric steed on his second attempt.

The call of nature occasionally comes at inopportune moments, as Bush discovered during a UN summit on terrorism in 2005. While other world leaders discussed weightier matters, Bush penned a note to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, apparently asking for permission to pee. “I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?”

One of Bush’s closest calls came in 2002 when he choked on a Pretzel and passed out, sliding off a couch and bruising his cheekbone. The president had been watching American football on TV when the salty snack became lodged in his throat, causing his heart rate to slow. Bush said he only realised what had happened when he regained consciousness and saw his two dogs looking down at him. He told reporters a few days later. “My mother always said when you're eating pretzels, chew before you swallow.” A French anti-war website later launched a campaign describing the Pretzel as “the US’s most wanted war criminal.” A statement on bretzelforbush.com said: “The Pretzel... is wanted for attempted murder of the President of the United States as the latter was peacefully watching a football match. It is a killing machine that knows no pity.” A visitor to Madame Tussaud’s in London also saw fit to add a Pretzel to Bush’s wax likeness (pictured).

On September 11 2001, 15 minutes after the first pictures of the burning World Trade Centre were broadcast and having been told America was under terrorist attack, Bush sat down with a classroom of second graders reading ‘The pet goat’ for a full seven minutes as part of a planned photo opportunity. His critics, including film-maker Michael Moore, have argued that Bush’s failure to react immediately indicated that he simply didn’t know what to do.
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Funny cartoon of the day

Funny cartoon of the day