Laura Bush once said about her husband, "George didn't know much about ranches when we bought the place. Andover and Yale don't have a real strong ranching program. But I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse."
Maybe that would explain this bit of international wrangling over Bush's visit to Mongolia:
Mr. Bush did face one delicate diplomatic mission here. U.S. leaders on world tours arm themselves with a list of demands when they visit foreign countries. In preparing for Mongolia, the president needed to figure out how to tactfully refuse a gift horse.[ed. -Look it in the mouth?]
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got a horse -- a black-maned steed he named 'Montana' -- when he visited this visually stunning nation of desert steppes in October. Such gift horses aren't actually taken home; instead, they are kept around but not ridden, in anticipation of the next visit.
But White House aides say Mr. Bush was worried about the obligations of ownership. Would taxpayers be on the hook for upkeep? Was there any way to guarantee the horse's well-being down the road? The question occupied not one but several meetings at the National Security Council in the days leading up to Mr. Bush's trip, one participant said.
Eventually Mr. Bush's aides gently persuaded the Mongolians not to proffer a horse. What Mr. Bush wasn't able to avoid was a sip of the local specialty -- fermented mare's milk -- even though he's a teetotaler.
Well that's got to be the first time he's been worried about spending our tax dollars. More likely, the closest he'll ever get to a horse is its saddle -- as pictured above.
(Via Salon's War Room where they suggest that those several NSC meetings might have been put to better use, like talking about how to get out of Iraq.)