Unlike his glamorous predecessor, President Bush has never exactly twinkled among the stars. He is more a baseball-and-oil kind of guy. But the president's celebrity ratings have reached a new low. In the run-up to next week's global warming summit in Bonn, Robert Redford, the cinematic patron saint of the environment, has poured scorn on an "ignorant" leader who "doesn't have a clue".
The withering judgment appeared in the German magazine, Stern, and seems to be an opening salvo in a celebrity-rich campaign to persuade Mr Bush to rethink his rejection of the Kyoto treaty on climate change. Bianca Jagger also weighed in yesterday, accusing the US president of playing Russian roulette with the planet.
"He has refused to back the Kyoto protocol despite the fact that there has been a UN report written by 3,000 scientists that shows that unless we cut fossil fuel emissions, global warming will be inevitable," the ex-model, former Rolling Stone wife and global activist said, at the London launch of a Green Party campaign.
Mr Redford was far more scathing. He has been a constant critic of Mr Bush's environmental policies, even writing a column in the New York Times to attack the administration's energy policy, but this time the actor-director and environmentalist appears to have lost his patience.
He told Stern that Mr Bush was apparently unaware "we are all living in a global village" as he relied too much on advisers from the military-industrial complex. "They are blind and deaf to the changes over the last 40 years," he said. "It's a tragedy because we could really learn a lot from other countries."
The criticism is timed to raise the curtain at Monday's Bonn summit, which is due to restart stalled negotiations over the future of the 1997 Kyoto agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In March, the Bush administration said it considered the Kyoto agreement dead, arguing that the deal required the US to shoulder too much of the burden and asked too little of developing countries. At the time, US officials said they would come up with an alternative plan to address the global warming threat, but the White House has so far come up with little apart from vague endorsements of voluntary emissions targets.
This latest wave of high-wattage criticism is symptomatic of George Bush's longstanding celebrity-deficit. During the election campaign Al Gore was embraced by the Hollywood A-list: Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck and Warren Beatty.
George Bush, meanwhile, had to make do with such waning stars as Bo Derek and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even longstanding Republican supporters such as Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood, did not make much of an effort for the party's presidential candidate. Mr Willis confined his contribution to calling Mr Gore a "knucklehead".
The online magazine, Salon, summed up the problems of the Grand Old Party (GOP) as the Republicans are known with the headline: "GOP: Our Celebs suck!", pointing out that the main political dilemma in Hollywood in the last election was whether to back Mr Gore or his Green opponent, Ralph Nader.
The crisis came to a head at Mr Bush's presidential inauguration, where a string of leading acts turned down the opportunity to perform before the nation. Michael Levine, a Hollywood publicist told the Los Angeles Times that: "Booking entertainment for a Republican inaugural is like trying to push a wet mattress up a spiral staircase".
In the end, the Bush inaugural committee saved face by snagging Ricky Martin, but the Latino star fell out with the new administration soon afterwards over the use of Vieques in his native Puerto Rico as a US navy bombing range.
The president's standing in Hollywood is so dire that the White House has set up an informal taskforce to try to attract more celebrities. According to the latest edition of the conservative journal, National Review: "White House officials have been compiling lists of entertainment figures who might be persuaded to support some of the president's policies (and who might also lend a touch of glamour to state dinners and other White House events)."
The administration's strategy has been to point out the interests George Bush and the stars have in common. The president, for example, has significantly lowered the tax burden on the extremely wealthy and he is a forthright advocate of copyright enforcement.
But despite calling Hollywood's biggest talent agents "in the hope of making connections", the celebrity recruitment drive seems to be making little headway. The stars are less interested in "nickel-and-dime" issues such as tax and intellectual property laws, than in more emotive subjects such as the environment and abortion rights.
The celebrity-courting has also, on occasion, been woefully heavy handed. In May, the interior secretary, Gale Norton, invited Mr Redford to take part in a photo-opportunity in which endangered California condors would be released into the wild. Ms Norton was sure he would be interested in view of his starring role in the film Three Days of the Condor. It had to be pointed out that the film was about spies, not birds.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001