Would you buy a used car from this man?

George W. Bush explains automotive pricing.

Tim Grieve
March 17, 2006 9:23PM (UTC)

When George H.W. Bush expressed minor amazement at some bit of grocery store technology back in 1992, it was widely viewed as proof that the president was out of touch with the concerns of average Americans. In what may be a sign of how far the son has fallen, George W. Bush had a more embarrassing encounter with reality this week, but not many people seemed to pay it much notice.

The president was pitching the Medicare prescription drug plan at an event in Maryland Wednesday when someone in the audience asked him a question about the different rates hospitals charge for patients with or without insurance.


Bush started strong. "This guy has got a great question," he said, "because, really, what he's talking about is transparency in pricing." But then the president tried to move into the world of metaphor, and the wheels started coming off pretty quickly. "When you go buy a car, you know exactly what they're going to charge you," Bush said. The comment drew laughs from seniors in the audience who've apparently spent more time at car dealerships than their commander in chief. "Well, sometimes you don't know," Bush said. The seniors laughed some more. "Well, you negotiate with them," Bush said. More laughs. "Well, " Bush said, "they put something on the window that says price."

"His point is, is that the more you know about price, the better you can make better decisions, and I appreciate that," Bush said. "Listen, you're paying me a lot of money to work, and so I think I'm going to have to head back home. But I'm honored. Got any more questions, I'll be glad to answer them."

Correction: Is it Friday yet? The former president's encounter with grocery-store technology happened in 1992, not in 1998 or 1988, as we reported earlier.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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