At Olympics, Bush Is 'First Fan'
By Michael Abramowitz
BEIJING, Aug. 10 - President Bush appeared to be enjoying himself immensely as he played First Fan over the weekend.
On Sunday, Bush was in the crowd, cheering and waving the American flag as Michael Phelps smashed the world record in the 400-meter individual medley. Afterwards Bush, his father George H.W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara met the swim team in the basement of the aquatic center, posing for pictures and glad-handing.
"God, what a thrill to cheer for you!" Bush gushed.
Later in the day, after dinner at the U.S. ambassador's house, Bush was planning to take in the big U.S.-China men's basketball game, accompanied by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, a long-time friend of the Bush family who served as his father's interpreter during a 1977 tour of Tibet. "He told me he's going to be yelling at the top of his lungs," Bush told reporters today.
Over the past three days, Bush has also gone on a mountain bike ride on the Olympic course, visited the women's softball team (where he declined the coach's invitation to take a few practice swings) and watched the U.S. women whack the Czech Republic in basketball. The first lady seemed a bit bored, yawning openly on several occasions; she was perhaps tired after her early morning private tour of the Forbidden City, the former Imperial Palace in the middle of Beijing.
Bush's exploits have been creating a bit of a buzz in Beijing, especially his widely captured tap on the back of a bikini-clad women's volleyball player Saturday. Indeed, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao brought the subject up when he sat down for a meeting with Bush on Sunday afternoon.
"You also spent some time with the beach volleyball players," noted Wen, followed by a moment of grinning silence and chuckling by Bush.
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