Last week, during the brouhaha over Bush saying "shit" in front of an open mic, I confess I was strangely pleased that the guy swears now and then.
He was talking to Tony ("Yo Blair") at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, and they were discussing the only news of the day that mattered - Israel and Hezbollah and that whole mess. Neither man knew that an open mic was capturing their conversation.
When Bush said "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit," it seemed like a reasonable sentiment. Everyone ought to stop "doing this shit," including Bush, who has played his part in worsening the Mideast quagmire.
But I'll tell you what did bother me. Bush's table manners. As we all saw clearly on CNN, he talks with his mouth full. Not only that, he makes smacking noises when he chews. Frankly, he must be disgusting to dine with.
You can tell a lot about a person from his table manners. If you're the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, acting civilized at the dinner table should be part of the job description. Graciousness goes a long way toward diplomacy and getting people to see things your way.
But his piggish dining behavior was only the beginning. At a meeting of the most important people in the world, George Bush repeatedly demonstrated the manners of a spoiled brat, first by loudly complaining that "some of these guys talk too long" - "these guys" being the other leaders of the world - and by grousing that he wanted to go for a run and then get to that pig roast instead of listening to all those windbags.
And then came the capstone of his loutish performance - his attempt to give a shoulder massage to the German chancellor who, by no great coincidence, was the only female world leader there.
If you haven't seen the video clip, Bush wandered up behind Chancellor Angela Merkel, put his hands on either side of her neck and then started rubbing her. Merkel, who threw her hands up in surprise, was "erschrocken" at what the "dumkoff" was doing.
If she'd had a pocketbook handy, she probably would have clocked him with it.
There's a guy in every office like that - the groper who's often called down to HR for a talking-to because women complain about his rude, condescending and presumptuous behavior. Like Bush, they don't get it. They roll their eyes at what they consider an "hysterical" over-reaction from humorless girls.
If Clinton had done that, the Republicans would have been calling for his head.
Actually, much of what's gone awry with this disastrous administration might well be seen as bad manners.
Eavesdropping on us? That's uncivil. It's polite to announce your presence when listening to a conversation that the participants assume is private.
Cronyism? Ill-bred. We all remember the snobby clique in school that favored its own kind.
Not sharing? Crass, but Bush has raised to a fine art the practice of not sharing tax breaks and no-bid contracts with us average folks.
Playground bully? You bet. Attacking a country unprovoked and starting a big brawl is boorish.
As everyone knows, if you've got a rude child, the parents are often to blame. Bush's mom, surely, is a swine in pearls as she illustrated in her contemptuous remarks about the lower classes after Katrina.
His father does better, despite puking on the prime minister of Japan. I can't help but think he's been embarrassed by his son now and then.
I know it was just a small moment in this presidency. And I know that shit happens. But after nearly six years of this vulgar behavior, it's a reminder that we have a vapid, towel-snapping frat boy in charge of the world. God help us.
There are 911 days left until Inauguration 2009.
Beth Quinn's column appears on Monday. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 Orange County Publications