Howard worthy of ten-gallon hat: Bush
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has received the highest honour President George W Bush could think of: "You're kind of like a Texan," Bush told Howard.
(Pardon me, but round these parts them's not words of praise, them's fightin' words.)
Mr Bush prides himself on being an early riser, so he was surprised to wake up early on Saturday, look out the window and found Howard up and ready for a stroll.
(George ... the man, if he had any sense, was trying to escape!)
"So I hustled and got dressed, and we went for a good walk," Mr Bush related at his Texas ranch. "And I'll tell you something, the guy - I'm a pretty good athlete. He walks a good clip. I was breathing hard."
(A spot of hustling and heavy breathing is it George? What ever roasts your chestnuts.)
Mr Bush has barred French President Jacques Chirac from his Texas hideaway over France's refusal to go along with attacking Iraq and Russian President Vladimir Putin probably will not be back any time soon for trying to thwart military action.
And Mr Bush has cancelled a trip planned for tomorrow to see war opponent Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Ottawa. Instead, he is going to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a speech on the economy.
(Little Rock's loss is Canada's gain.)
But for Australia's decision to support the war with 2,000 troops and aerial bombing raids, Mr Bush gave Mr Howard a ride on Air Force One and a ranch weekend.
(Not to mention a ride on the Roller Coaster of Death, a bag of lollies, a roll in the hay with Laura, a free bumper sticker and free unlimited sphinctorial parking rights for Little Johnny's tongue. Certainly not to mention that by the acceptance of this largesse Little Johnny will forego the free trade demands of Australian primary producers and formally hand over the making of Australian foreign policy to Unka Tom Powell.)
Mr Howard is the latest in an exclusive group of world leaders to have visited Bush's ranch in central Texas, joining fellow war supporters British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, as well as Mr Putin, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
Mr Bush and Mr Howard looked pretty casual and comfortable at a joint news conference, wearing matching blue blazers and no ties on a warm and humid day before a ranch scene of hay bales and a barn under overcast skies.
(Don't hold me to this until I've checked, but I think the *journalist* has plagiarised this prose from one of Barbara Cartland's romances.)
During the visit Mr Bush showed Mr Howard his favourite spot on the 547-hectare ranch: a limestone canyon with waterfall bubbling forth after a recent rain.
With Mr Bush behind the wheel, the two leaders drove up to the news conference site in the president's white pickup truck, wives Laura and Janette in the back seat.
(Where they swapped recipes and discussed the size of their respective spouse's brains and wedding tackle during a full and frank exchange on the art of bonsai.)
The Crawford ranch is the only place the Secret Service will let Mr Bush drive.
(Like the rest of the World, the SS has little confidence in the "Roadmap" George wants to use.)
Mr Bush and Mr Howard's mutual praise was as thick as the Texas cedar Mr Bush is constantly clearing away around his ranch in order to keep the trees from sucking up all the water from the other hardwoods.
(I'm sure there's an Amerkin Foreign Policy analogy in there somewhere. Shall attempt hunt it down and smoke it out.)
Mr Howard congratulated Bush "on the leadership that you gave to the world, at times under very great criticism, at times fighting very great obstruction. But you had a resolute, clear view of what had to be done."
"I love having him there, I can't tell you what a comfort it is to talk to him on the phone," President Mr Bush said. "He's steady. ... He was steady under fire." Mr Bush regretted only one part of the Mr Howard visit. "The only thing I regret is he didn't go fishing with me yesterday afternoon. He wanted a little rest."
( Yesiree, our Johnny is a dab hand at heavy breathing get your rocks off phone calls. Don't be so piscatorially demanding George, he's already been huntin' and shootin' with you.)
Mr Bush said he would like to visit Australia "as soon as possible." One opportunity might be later this year.
(As soon as George has a look at an atlas to see how far away Austria is.)
Mr Howard's visit was part of a campaign to thank those nations that helped the United States during the Iraqi conflict.
(And show those other kids that didn't come to George's party just what they've missed out on by being sooky la las.)
This midget of a Prime Minister has many, many, many Australians pulling pillows over their heads Kevorkian style to hide their embarrassment. He just can't help himself. His raison d'etre is to be tickled under the chin by those he sees as great and powerful. "I won't sack a flawed Governor General. I will rip the guts out of Medicare. I will plunge Australia into a dishonestly premised war. But George thinks I'm wonderful and shares his play lunch with me, so all you bastards can go get knotted."