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Jewish World Review June 3, 2004 / 14 Sivan, 5764

Roger Simon

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Heeeere's Laura! | According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, the George W. Bush campaign is "counting on" Laura Bush to "energize the party faithful and shore up the president's eroding support among suburban women and soccer moms by humanizing him as a caring family man, softening his tough-guy image while emphasizing his steady hand in scary times."

This might seem like a lot. After all, we rarely listen to vice presidents, let alone First Ladies.

But Laura Bush is a potent campaigner. And I am not talking about when she is giving speeches scripted by the East Wing (which is where First Ladies have their offices these days.)

As it turns out, Mrs. Bush does really well in live TV interviews, such as her appearance not long ago on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

She was very funny. How funny was she?

Here are some excerpts:

Leno: Now, you have discussions with your husband, obviously. Do you offer opinions?

Mrs. Bush: Actually, when he was running for Congress the very first time, his mother told me -- Barbara Bush said — never criticize George's speeches. So I really took her advice to heart and never criticized any of his speeches.

I knew there were plenty of other critics without me being one of them. Until one night, we were driving into our driveway and he said, "Tell me truth, how was my speech?" And I said, "Well, it wasn't that good."

And with that, he drove into the garage wall. (Laughter and applause.)

Leno: Wow.

Mrs. Bush: That's really true.

Leno: Now, you were in Las Vegas last night, I imagine partying until dawn? Did you gamble at all while you were there? Did you pull a slot machine? Did you go to a Chippendales show? (Laughter.)

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MRS. BUSH: Jay, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. (Laughter and applause.)

Leno: Wow, that's the last answer I expected to hear. (Laughter.) Let's hope the President went to bed early. (Laughter.)

Mrs. Bush: He did; he was in another time zone.

Leno: Sometimes the President will say something and do you ever say to him, why did you put that word in the speech or why did you say — because there were certain — like I remember there were a couple of phrases that really got to be — axis of evil and evildoers and these type of things.

What is your opinion on that? Do you ever say, that seems a little strident, that seems a little — you know?

Mrs. Bush: Sure. But not in time, usually. (Laughter.) He's already said it.

Leno: Wow. How does one unwind in the White House? Do you have a guilty pleasure? Have you ever watched a reality show?

Mrs. Bush: We watched the very first Survivor a lot during the 2000 campaign in motels across the United States, a lot of them in New Hampshire and Iowa and other places. But, no, we watch baseball.

Leno: Baseball, okay. Are you a big fan?

Mrs. Bush: I'm a huge fan. When he owned the team, we went to about 60 games a year, and I loved that. Baseball is very relaxing. It's long and it's slow and you have plenty of time to watch and daydream and do everything else. (Laughter.)

Leno: There you go. Now, obviously, the convention is coming. Is it me, or does this campaign seem like the nastiest in a while? It seems like they start earlier and earlier. It seems to me, where we are now would have been maybe July or August a number of years ago. I mean, the intensity, the amount of money. Does it seem that way to you? From your side, how does it seem?

Mrs. Bush: Well, you know, I don't know how to say that. I think the fact is, campaigns are always like this. They are always alike in one way which is, of course, you want to make your opponent look the worst you can possibly make them look, I guess. I think that's what happened. (Laughter.)

Leno: Well, thank you. I know you have to run. I want to thank you very much for coming by. I didn't even get a chance to ask you if George was a good salesman when he was at Sears.

Mrs. Bush: He was a very good salesman at Sears.

Leno: How far do you think he could have risen at Sears if he hadn't become President?

Mrs. Bush: President. (Laughter and applause.)

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