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Twin Bushes Appear in White House

By James Gerstenzang
Los Angeles Times


The president of the United States, in the privacy of his family quarters upstairs in the White House, picked up the phone night before last to call the ever-present Secret Service detail, ready to escort him wherever he chooses: "Feel like going jogging tonight. In the nude."


Not the president, that is. But the call did come down from the Lincoln bedroom, and it did sound just like the president.

Never mind. It was Dana Carvey.

The comedian, whose imitations of George Bush were a highlight of NBC's Saturday Night Live for four years, performed his hand-waving, goofy-grin routine Monday morning in the White House East Room -- and he kept President Bush, his target week after week, in stitches. The show was, after all, Bush's idea.

Carvey and his wife, Paula, were guests of President and Barbara Bush at the White House Sunday night, and Carvey stuck around Monday morning to perform his routine for the president, Mrs. Bush, and members of the White House staff. That's when he told of the telephone call he said he placed to the Secret Service.

"I was staying in the Lincoln bedroom last night and I couldn't resist getting on the phone and I called up the Secret Service as the president," he said in his own voice. Then, his just-too-real characterization of the gesticulating president took over. As a wide-mouthed grin spread across his face -- and across the president's face, too -- Carvey said: "Feel like going jogging tonight. In the nude."

Staff members had been summoned to the East Room for what they had been told would be a message of Christmas cheer from the president. At the appointed hour -- 9:30 a.m. -- the Marine Band heralded the president's arrival by playing "Hail to the Chief." And in walked the comedian -- followed a step or two later by President and Mrs. Bush.

The shenanigans, arranged by the president, suggested that Bush has swung into the spirit of the season, and the remaining demands of his job, with an esprit that contrasts with the downbeat reports that emerged after his election defeat.

"He's a very resilient man. He holds no grudges. He has no regrets," said Barbara Bush later in the morning. "Of course he wasn't happy about losing. But he was not despondent. And he doesn't look unhappy."

Indeed, at least in public, he does not.

There was the president Monday, grinning broadly at the comedian he had invited himself.

"Don't dare move my hands," he said, to laughter, as he made an effort to avoid the Bush-like gestures that Carvey perfected. "Dana's given me a lot of laughs. He said to me on the phone, `Are you sure you really want me to come there?' I said, `yes.' And he said I hope I've never crossed the line. And I knew exactly what he meant. And as far as I'm concerned, he never has."