As Trump marked 100 days in office, Nancy Pelosi let this one slip: 'I never thought I'd pray for the day' when George W. Bush was president again
When Bush left office in 2009, he was one of the least popular presidents in recent history
Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi has admitted something of a Freudian slip.
In a conversation with host Jonathan Karl on ABC’s This Week, the US House Minority Leader discussed US President Donald Trump’s 100 days in office and whether the Democratic Party could work with him.
“I see everything as an opportunity. And I’ve never have seen so much willingness to help win. And winning means winning for the American people, that either we win or whoever wins understands the priorities of the American people,” Pelosi said.
“And they are not with President Bush.”
She caught her mistake right away.
“Oh, excuse me,” Pelosi said, looking surprised and putting a hand over her heart.
“I’m so sorry, President Bush! I never thought I’d pray for the day that you were president again.”
WATCH: Nancy Pelosi admits something about George W. Bush
She was referring to George W. Bush, the 43rd US president. Democrats famously opposed him on numerous fronts, including the Iraq War and the privatisation of Social Security.
Pelosi acknowledged as much - but, well, what a difference several years and two administration changes make.
“And so you asked the question, how would I work with a Republican president? The way we worked with President Bush,” Pelosi told Karl.
“We got a great deal accomplished. ... Biggest energy bill in the history of our country, a tax bill that helped low-income working families that we wanted and we wanted to be big and we found our common ground. The list goes on and on.”
When Bush left office in 2009, he was one of the least popular presidents in recent history, particularly among Democrats. According to Gallup, Bush’s approval ratings steadily declined over his two terms, ending with a second-term average of just 37 per cent.
After office, Bush remained largely out of the political spotlight, taking up painting and appearing to maintain a tenuous but respectful relationship with Barack and Michelle Obama after they moved into the White House.
Many contrasted Trump’s hardline rhetoric against Muslims with Bush’s actions in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Many have pointed out that, within a week of the attacks, then-President Bush publicly urged people not to conflate the terrorists’ actions with the Islamic faith, even quoting from the Koran to make his point.
“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war,” Bush said in a speech at the Islamic Centre of Washington.
“America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”
The curious re-imagining of Bush 43 continued throughout a contentious election - bolstered by a photo of a warm embrace between Bush and Michelle Obama in September that went viral - and into the early weeks of Trump’s presidency.
After the Ellen show posted a video of the former president joking about his inner “Rembrandt” and learning to paint, viewers flooded the comments with unexpected praise.
At a Saturday event billed as “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” comedian Will Ferrell captured some of this sentiment when he emerged on stage in character as George W. Bush - and was met with cheers and applause.
WATCH: Will Ferrell as George W. Bush
Ferrell ambled slowly to the front of the stage, smoking a cigarette and soaking in the reception. He let a brief pause fill the room before holding out his arms to the audience.
“How do you like me now, huh?” he said in Bush’s characteristic drawl, grinning.
“Quick presidential update: I’m doing quite well, thank you,” Ferrell-as-Bush said.
“History’s proven kinder to me than many of you thought.”