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Bush jokes about skull and bones

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Nope, no weapons over there. (Laughter and applause.) Maybe under here. (Laughter.) Oops, this photo wasn't supposed to be in here. This is the Skull and Bones secret signal. (Laughter.)

Transcript of Remarks by President Bush at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner

3/24/2004 10:38:00 PM

To: National Desk

Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580

WASHINGTON, March 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner:

Washington Hilton Hotel

Washington, D.C.

9:55 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you. Thanks for inviting me -- finally. (Laughter.) And thank you for honoring David Bloom. It was a fantastic speech you gave for a man you loved.

I am sorry Laura couldn't be here. And I'm sorry Secretary Rumsfeld is not here, either. The guy constantly surprises me. Do you know what Rummy's favorite TV show is? "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." (Laughter.) My Cabinet could take some pointers from watching that show. In fact, I'm going to have the Fab Five do a make over on Ashcroft. (Laughter.)

Anyway, it's nice to be with you. A couple of years ago when I was here, I read from my book of "Misarticalations." (Laughter.) Fortunately, my verbal phonation and electricution -- (laughter) -- have improved. So tonight I'm going to do one of my slide shows. These are actual, unstaged photos pulled from the files of the White House Photo Office. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present a White House Election-Year Album. (Applause.)

As you know, the contest with my opponent is going to be a slugfest. I'm feeling good. (Laughter.) I'm feeling ready. (Laughter.) I'm psyching myself up for the fight. (Laughter.) I knew it was going to be a tough campaign when Karl Rove started dressing like this. (Laughter.) And this is Condi Rice, of course. Here I am trying to explain John Kerry's foreign policy. (Laughter.)

I have to admit it really ticked me off when Democrats questioned my National Guard service in Alabama. Here's a photo proving that I was in Alabama fulfilling my duties. (Laughter.) Political campaigns always have their unexpected moments. This next photo is when I heard that Senator McCain said he was considering being Kerry's running mate. (Laughter.) The next one was taken a couple of months ago. I had just gotten word that Howard Dean had lost Iowa. (Laughter and applause.)

In addition to campaign calls, I also spend a lot of time on the phone listening to our European allies. (Laughter.) The conversation went like this: "Hey, John, Kim Jung-il here." (Laughter.) "Just wanted to call and let you know you're my guy." (Laughter.)

Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere. (Laughter and applause.)

As you can tell from the look on Andy Card's face, we've become a little concerned about the Vice President lately. (Laughter.) Whenever you ask him a question, he replies, "Let's see what my little friend says." (Laughter.) But we get along well. Here I am saying, "Dick, if the Hunan Palace doesn't get lunch here in four minutes, we're going out." (Laughter.)

Nope, no weapons over there. (Laughter and applause.) Maybe under here. (Laughter.) Oops, this photo wasn't supposed to be in here. This is the Skull and Bones secret signal. (Laughter.)

I'm not paranoid. (Laughter.) But it was at this point in my presidency that I had a strange feeling somebody was following me. (Laughter.)

One thing about being President is you get lots of advice. Yes, Mother. (Laughter.) Yes, Mother. (Laughter.) Mother, would you just listen to us for once. (Laughter.)

I like this next picture a lot. It's hard to get Rumsfeld to laugh, but when he does, boy, it is worth it. (Laughter.) This photo was taken down at the ranch, and as you can tell, Barney is not very happy with me. This is the day I told him he'd been neutered. (Laughter.) And this is the day that Barney got his revenge. (Laughter.)

Now, on long flights, the staff and I often play cards. The key to playing Poker is keeping a straight face and never letting your opponent know what you're thinking. (Laughter.) Actually, this is on the way to the G8 summit. Once I got these trading cards, it's easy to remember the names of the foreign leaders. (Laughter and applause.)

All Presidents have dreams and aspirations of what their legacy will be. Here they are measuring me for Mt. Rushmore. (Laughter.)

But I do have a few serious photos to show you, in closing. It's photos like these that mean the most to me. Some of our Special Forces sent me this last picture. The faces are blurred in the slide because they remain in harm's way. The photo hangs in my private study next to the Oval Office.

To honor those who died on September the 11th, and to make a statement of their own commitment to this country's security, these Americans buried a piece of the World Trade Center in a place in Afghanistan where the al Qaeda once ran free. They wrote that they held a ceremony, which was far more emotional than they had expected. The team leader wrote a prayer and a dedication. Let me read you one sentence from that dedication.

"We consecrate this spot as an everlasting memorial to the brave Americans who died on September the 11th, so that all who would seek to do her harm will know that America will not stand by and watch terror prevail."

We will not stand by. The greatest honor being President is leading such men and women. We have the freedom we enjoy tonight because they protect that freedom. And may God protect them.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 10:05 P.M. EST


/ 2004 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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