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George W. Bush is perhaps the most casual president in U.S. history. He was laid back, always had a smirk, and was quick with a laugh or a jibe, at himself or others. Hell, the guy set a record for vacation days taken by a president. One of the casual commander’s most admirable and hilarious qualities was his insistence on assigning everyone around him nicknames. Family, staff, politicians, journalists, and even world leaders were subject to W.’s odd but awesome talent.
I, for one, love that about the guy. It’s a real power move to give someone a nickname against their will. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re out and you meet some random guy, get his name, but then call him something like “Basket.” When he asks why don’t even give an explanation, just shrug and say, “Don’t worry about it, Basket.” Then constantly refer to him as Basket for the rest of the night. That guy will not get laid, will leave the bar/party in shame, and likely start plotting your murder once Basket catches on.
Perhaps no one better demonstrated Bush’s nickname giving ability, or the method (or lack thereof) behind it better than Will Ferrell in, You’re Welcome America – A Final Night With George W. Bush (possibly my favorite thing Will Ferrell has ever done).
That more or less had to be how all those nicknames were handed out.
The other day a helpful tipster sent us a link to a Wikipedia page listing all of the nicknames George W. Bush had given to various people throughout his presidency (and presumably before as well). It’s long, and it’s hilarious, and we’re going to break it down.
Poppy, 41, Old Man – George H. W. Bush
I don’t know how long W. has been referring to his dad as “Poppy,” but that very well could be the first nickname ever handed out by 43. I’m a big fan of 41. I hope they only refer to each other by numbers.
Bushie – Laura Bush (this is a mutual nickname)
Dino (short for Dinosaur) – Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada
Two options here: 1) W. thought Chrétien was old, and called him a dinosaur, or, 2) The Canadian prime minister had really short arms, and this amused W.
Pootie-Poot, Ostrich Legs – Vladimir Putin, President and former Prime Minister of Russia
This is one of, if not my absolute, favorite nickname W. gave out. Putin is a burly, vain man who prides himself on his masculinity, to the point where all Russian propaganda now revolves around how much a badass he supposedly is. Calling him something as emasculating as “Pootie-Poot” is a real power move. Ostrich Legs is great too. I like to imagine this is how Putin got the name “Ostrich Legs.”
Putin: Meezter Prezeedient, may I preezient to you my ripplink calf moosles soo thiat you may marvel iat thiem.
(*Putin rolls up pant legs*)
W.: Heh, takin’ your pants off ya weirdo European? Those aren’t that cool. They look skinny, like bird legs. I’m gonna call ya Ostrich Legs, Pootie-Poot.
Putin: GOD DIAM YOU! I iam a mian! A stronk, powerful mian! Like great Russian bear!
W.: Yeah, sure, whatever, Ostrich Legs.
(*Putin storms out in a rage*)
Bandar Bush – Bandar bin Sultan, ambassador to the United States from Saudi Arabia
He was like one of the family.
Landslide – Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
This made no sense to me at first, but on a hunch I did some Google investigating and came to find that the Dixie Chicks released their cover of the song Landslide not long after Tony Blair and W. met. Just sayin’, Tony Blair probably got his nickname from a Dixie Chicks song.
Man of Steel – John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia
No idea. Looked up John Howard, he’s a goon. What I do know is that this is the nickname Putin wanted. He probably tried to trade for it.
Shoes – Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy
I’m confident that were W. president in 2011 that nickname would’ve been changed to something like “Barley Legal” or “Hookers.”
Big Time, Vice – Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America
Would have preferred Cheney’s nickname having something to do with this.
Rummy – Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Easy, classic, fun.
Izzy, Altoid Boy – Special Assistant Israel Hernandez (for his role as provider of breath mints to the President on the campaign trail)
Altoid Boy is another favorite. You have to feel REAL special working for the President of the United States, right up until he starts referring to you as Altoid Boy. Another W. power move.
Boy Genius, Turd Blossom – Senior Advisor Karl Rove
Condy, Guru – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
He was already in his second term, and busy with two wars. I’m going to chalk these weak showings up to W. not having time to think of a good one. The guy shoots from the hip and sticks to his guns.
The World’s Greatest Hero – Secretary of State Colin Powell
Wordy, but awesome.
Big O (current), Pablo (former) – Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill
How did the guy who used to own a baseball team not give a player with the same name as a former New York Yankee a nickname like “Yankee” or “Slugger” or something?
Fredo – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
He was watching The Godfather? I don’t know.
Danny Boy, Dan the Man – Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Bartlett
Ari-Bob – White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer
High Prophet, Hurricane Karen – Karen Hughes, Special Advisor; Director of Communications under Texas Governor George W. Bush
Hurricane Karen sounds like a real tough bitch.
The Blade, My Man Mitch – Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels
The Blade? Aaannndddd Mitch Daniels wins the nickname competition.
Big Country – Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh
This guy looks like he manages a Bass Pro Shop. Totally get the nickname.
Brownie – Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown
Would be cooler if this name was for all the brown sewage that was flowing through the streets of NOLA after Katrina.
Brother George – CIA Director George Tenet
They were Eskimo brothers.
Sit Room Guy – White House Situation Room Director James P. Wisecup
His last name was Wisecup and W. couldn’t think of anything other than “Sit Room Guy?” I’m pretty sure the president just couldn’t remember this guy’s name.
Tree Man – Bush’s unnamed Forest Services official
“HEY! Tree Man! How’s the forest?”
La Margarita – Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
They thought up No Child Left Behind shithoused on margaritas.
Tangent Man – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
I think this guy gave a lot of pissed off speeches.
Tiny – Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
Classic ironic nickname.
Light Bulb – National Energy Policy Development Group Executive Director Andrew D. Lundquist
Seriously, these are real and not from the Will Ferrell show.
Horny – White House Speechwriter Jonathan Horn
Better than “Words.”
Bullets – Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman
Again, no clue, but it sounds cool, so you have to roll with it.
Bama, Rock – Barack Obama, former Democratic Senator, Illinois, Bush’s successor as President of the United States
How pissed are all our readers from Alabama right now?
Boner – John Boehner, former Republican Majority Leader, current Speaker of the House
God I love you, W.
Big Boy – Chris Christie, former United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, current Governor of New Jersey
Was really hoping for Stay Puft, but I like it.
Pablo – Paul Wellstone, Democratic Senator, Minnesota
You already used Pablo, dammit! I get it, you’re a busy man.
Pedro – Peter King, Republican Congressman from New York
Spanish is tried and true.
Hogan – John McCain, Republican Senator, Arizona
Get it? Because McCain was a POW. Holy shit some of these are absolutely amazing.
Big George – George Miller, Democratic Congressman, California
Freddy Boy, Freddo – Fred Upton, Republican Congressman from Michigan
It doesn’t matter if some suck, because W. refers to John McCain as Hogan. Still laughing.
Congressman Kickass – John Sweeney, Republican Congressman, New York
Almost as good as The Blade.
Nellie (former), Benney (former), Benator (current) – Ben Nelson, Democratic Senator, Nebraska
Ellis – Charles Ellis “Chuck” Schumer, Democratic Senator, New York
Ali – Barbara Boxer, Democratic Senator, California
Frazier – Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator, California
I get the Ali thing, with Boxer. Not sure why Feinstein was Frazier. Were they just standing next to each other when he handed out these nicknames?
Sabertooth – Barney Frank, Democratic Congressman, Massachusetts
How’d Barney fucking Frank get such a sweet name?
Red – Adam Putnam, Republican Congressman, Florida
Oh man, this guy is as ginger as it gets. Bush was obligated to give him this nickname.
The Cobra – Maureen Dowd
I like to think the best W. nicknames formed a club. A sort of nickname elite. Maureen Dowd is in that club.
Stretch/Little Stretch – David Gregory, NBC
Stretch – Dick Kyle, Bloomberg News
Super Stretch – Bill Sammon, then of The Washington Times, now of The Washington Examiner
Do these three people look alike or something?
Mikey – Mike Emanuel, Fox News
Bush named him as he ate a bowl of Life cereal.
Shades – Peter Wallsten, blind reporter for the Los Angeles Times
Seriously, George W. Bush gives ZERO fucks.
Panchito – Frank Bruni, reporter who covered Bush campaign in 2000 for the New York Times
Kenny Boy – Kenneth Lay
Weadie, Weadnik – author Doug Wead
The Englishman – Peter McMahon, husband of Dana Perino
Flies on the Eyeballs Guy – Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center Cofer Black
Rosey – appointee Jack Rosen
I really want to hang out with this guy. Please give me a nickname W. I would force people to call me by it forever.