Relaxing under an oak tree at his Crawford, Texas ranch with aides one August day in 2002, the talk turned to castrating bulls, dove hunting and which young man had the most robust love life. A few months later, the president was unnerved to learn that he had unknowingly gone swimming in a river frequented by poisonous snakes, following a mountain bike ride around the ranch.
It happened on the golf course in August 2001, as Bush prepared to tee off. He told a goofy joke that went over like a lead balloon. Long silence from the entourage of aides and agents.
A wisecracking presidential assistant let him twist in the wind for a few seconds, then piped up sarcastically: “Funny one, sir!” Bush teed off without further comment.