The US president, George Bush, was transferred to the Alabama National Guard during the Vietnam war because his drunken behavior was a political liability to his father in Texas, the wife of one of his father's former confidants revealed yesterday.
Linda Allison told the political website Salon.com that throughout the time Mr Bush was in Alabama she never saw him in uniform and had no idea he was supposed to be in the National Guard.
"Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston." Asked if she had ever seen him in uniform Mrs Allison said: "Good Lord, no. I had no idea the National Guard was involved in his life."
Mrs Allison is the wife of the late Jimmy Allison, a former political consultant and newspaper owner from Midland, Texas and one time confidant of the Bush family. Motivated by pride in her husband and pique at the manner in which the Bush family discarded him once they believed he was no longer useful, the interview is the first she has ever given.
On Sunday the former lieutenant governor of Texas Ben Barnes will admit on the CBS primetime news program 60 Minutes that he pulled strings to enroll Mr Bush in a unit of the Texas National Guard known as the Champagne Unit, because it had so many sons of prominent Texas politicians and businessmen.
Mrs Allison said that in 1972 her husband received a call from Mr Bush's father asking whether he could find a place for his son on a Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama. Mr Bush Sr was the US ambassador to the UN at the time and his son's drunken and occasionally loutish behavior was becoming an embarrassment.
Mr Allison agreed to take the errant Bush son as his deputy in a Senate campaign to elect the Alabama Republican Winton "Red" Blount. Once he had an official reason to be in Alabama, Mr Bush Jr transferred from the Texas National Guard to its Alabama counterpart, although beyond one dental examination there is no proof that he showed up for any service even though it was only a part-time posting. Mr Bush was subsequently given an honorable discharge.
Most involved in the Senate campaign recall Mr Bush Jr turning up late, boasting about how much alcohol he had drunk the night before and then going home early. "After about a month I asked Jimmy what was Georgie's job, because I could never figure it out," recalled Mrs Allison. "I never saw him do anything."
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004