"You eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country. Takes him eight hours to fly home. Russia's big and so is China." - PRESIDENT BUSH
Story in full WORDS often fail George Bush, but yesterday the president of the United States added some new phrases to the language of international diplomacy.
A live microphone at the G8 summit picked up Mr Bush talking more like a teenager than leader of the free world. In a conversation with Tony Blair, the president said of the continuing strife in the Middle East that Syria should press Hezbollah to "stop doing this s***". Mr Bush had first attracted the Prime Minister's attention by saying: "Yo, Blair. How are you doing?"
This is not the first time Mr Bush has suffered the indignity of private communications becoming public. Last year, at a United Nations meeting, he passed a note to Condoleezza Rice, his secretary of state, saying: "I think I need a bathroom break. Is this possible?"
Yesterday's dialogue gave an insight into the president and the Prime Minister's personal relationship. Mr Bush thanked Mr Blair for his gift of a sweater, while the latter offered to visit the Middle East to lay the groundwork for a follow-up visit by Ms Rice.
The dialogue also revealed the president's preference for Diet Coke and his growing frustration with the UN. During the closing lunch at the G8 summit in St Petersburg in Russia, Mr Bush also expressed his disgust with the militant Islamic group and its backers in Syria. He told Mr Blair he felt like telling Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, to phone Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, to "make something happen".
Later, in a confused exchange with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, Mr Bush expressed his amazement that it will take Mr Putin just as long to fly home to Moscow as it will take him to fly back to Washington. Mr Putin's reply could not be heard.
Mr Bush said: "You eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country. Takes him eight hours to fly home. Russia's big and so is China."
Mr Bush is not the first US president to make a microphone faux pas. In 1984, Ronald Reagan, unaware a microphone was live, cracked a joke and said: "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?
Blair: I’m just...
Bush: You’re leaving?
Blair: No, no, no, not yet. On this trade thingy... (inaudible)
Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.
Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?
Bush: If you want me to.
Blair: Well, it’s just that if the discussion arises...
Bush: I just want some movement.
Bush: Yesterday we didn’t see much movement.
Blair: No, no, it may be that it’s not, it may be that it’s impossible.
Bush: I am prepared to say it.
Blair: But it’s just I think that we need to be an opposition...
Bush: Who is introducing the trade?
Blair: Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
Bush: Tell her to call ’em.
Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for [inaudible] it’s awfully thoughtful of you.
Blair: It’s a pleasure.
Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.
Blair: Oh, absolutely, in fact [inaudible].
Bush: What about Kofi? [inaudible] His attitude to ceasefire and everything else ... happens.
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [inaudible] is really difficult. We can’t stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
Blair: I don’t know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.
Bush: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon.
Blair: But that’s, that’s, that’s all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together.
Bush: Yeah, yeah.
Blair: But at least it gives people...
Bush: It’s a process, I agree. I told her your offer to...
Blair: Well...it’s only if I mean... you know. If she’s got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out, she’s got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
Bush: You see, the ... thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s*** and it’s over.
Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing.
Blair: What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way...
Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet.
Blair: He is honey. And that’s what the whole thing is about. It’s the same with Iraq.
Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.
Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.
Blair: Is this...? (At this point Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.)