When George W. Bush was asked the other day about Jack Abramoff, the president suggested that the disgraced GOP lobbyist was just another face on the presidential rope line. Bush acknowledged that he'd been photographed with Abramoff, but he said that he has been photographed with a lot of people. "Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with them or know them very well," Bush said.
A new report from the Center for American Progress suggests that Bush may have known Abramoff just a little better than he's letting on. Think Progress says it has seen e-mail messages Abramoff sent to Kim Eisler, the national editor of Washingtonian magazine -- e-mail messages in which the lobbyist claims to have met Bush "in almost a dozen settings" over the years.
In one of the messages, Think Progress says that Abramoff says that he was invited to a party for fundraisers at the Bush compound in Crawford, Texas, but that he couldn't attend because it would have required him to travel on a Saturday. In another message, Abramoff reportedly says that Bush has "one of the best memories of any politician I have ever met" and suggests that he's puzzled by the president's seeming inability to remember more about him. "The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and he joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids," Abramoff is said to have written. "Perhaps he has forgotten everything. Who knows?"