After the swearing-in of Barack Obama, George Bush was a little at a loss. He couldn't go home to the White House, and he couldn't stick around and steal any of Obama's thunder. So his people bundled him off in the helicopter and sent him to Andrews Air Force Base, where he met up with a big gang of his friends and flew home on a posh jet. The gang, according to Mark McKinnon at the Daily Beast, included:
Jenna and Barbara, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Dan Bartlett, Josh Bolten, Joel Kaplan, Jared Weinstein, Mike Meece, Andy Card, Don and Susie Evans, Blake Gottesman, Clay and Ann Johnson, Ed Gillespie, Barry Jackson, Joe Hagin, Israel Hernandez, Jeanne Johnson Phillips, Margaret Spellings, Alberto Gonzales, Brad Freeman, Jim and Debbie Francis, and Roland and Lois Betts.
A pretty friendly group! And accordingly, Bush was in a great mood. "While I expected the president’s mood to be defiant, bitter, defensive, or vengeful toward his critics, he was anything but," McKinnon wrote. "As he toured the cabin of the airplane throughout the flight, visiting with old friends, family, and staffers, he was filled with equanimity, grace, and a generosity of spirit."
Bush also left with a "a genuine warmth" for Obama, apparently. The former president admires the new president's personality, character, and family loyalty — and what's more, he thinks he has what it takes to be a successful leader.
Then everybody played cards, Karl Rove won, and they all landed in Texas. Bush was greeted by a cheering crowd of 25,000, and gave a little address. "The presidency was a joyous experience, but as great as it was, nothing compares with Texas at sunset," he said. "Tonight I have the privilege of saying six words that I have been waiting to say for a while: It is good to be home."