George, George, George. Hasn't anyone ever taught you that when dealing with a woman's age, guess low?
President Bush lasted only about 14 minutes into the state arrival ceremony (for Queen Elizabeth) before implying that the British monarch was 300 years old.
"You've dined with 10 U.S. presidents," Bush said on the South Lawn with the 81-year-old sovereign at his side. "You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in seventeen s --" -- here the president caught himself -- "in nineteen seventy-six."
The crowd laughed. Bush looked sheepishly at Elizabeth, who glanced up from the text of her own speech, smiled politely, and said something that sounded like "some year," or "you're near," or even "oh, dear."
"She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child," a quick-thinking Bush reported back to the assembly.
At least he didn't credit her with signing the Magna Carta.
"Quick thinking," Dana? Um, okay. He used that famous Bush charm elsewhere too:
The informal Bush enjoyed the formality so much that he even took time out to torment an underdressed photographer. After his walk with the queen after lunch, Bush got the photographer, Newsweek's Charles Ommanney, to agree that it was "a special day" at the White House. "Then why," the president asked, "didn't you wear something other than hand-me-down clothes?"