Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:41 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:41 | SYDNEY

Bush tries to break the tension


Sam Roggeveen


14 July 2008 14:47

Various bloggers have criticised President Bush for this:

George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan. The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

I'll grant it's a petty lame attempt at humour, but let's not get too huffy about the politics of it. Try to imagine the atmosphere around that G8 conference table during a long discussion on climate change. I would think the temptation to break that gloom and tension with a joke would be pretty strong.

Pretension and earnestness always deserve to be punctured, so the fact that Brown and Sarkozy were apparently scandalised by the remark goes to show Bush had the right idea. It's just a shame Bush's mastery of quips is weaker than his instinct for when to make them.