Vest wing puns strip away summit boredom

IT was the vest of times, it was the worst of times.

George W Bush came to Ireland to make friends, influence people and show the world than when America wants something, its President isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves

Show the EU who's boss? Check. Reinforce good guy image? Done. Strengthen the role of NATO? Yup. Secure a few more trillion dollars worth of business? Got that too.

It was all going swimmingly, if predictably, until he went on to remove the entire shirt. At a bare window. With the world's media outside.

All of sudden, headlines like "EU and US push for Middle East reforms" and "Bush wins EU support for NATO role in Iraqi security" became "Bush vest is summit to savour" and a timeless anecdote was born.

Hungry for any morsel to put a little drama into Dromoland, the world's media leapt upon the incident, dubbed "The Vest Wing" by the Melbourne Herald Sun, a paper which also couldn't resist: "Bush wins with vested interests".

The sauce on the dish was the Government's attempt to ban the images a surefire recipe for turning it into a full-scale international incident.

"TV crews in Ireland catch Bush changing clothes," reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "News cameras zoom a bit too close to Bush," declared the Seattle Times.

Even the BBC was tempted out of its much-prided staidness, announcing: "Bush filmed in underwear" before giving in to giddiness and suggesting he might be the US's "vest-dressed man".

Much of the international coverage focused on the Irish Government's embarrassment although the only reason Bertie should be red-faced is the assertion that he has copyright to the recording. Just where he'll stack it is anyone's guess.

As for Bush, he isn't the first US president who couldn't keep his clothes on and the habit didn't dent his predecessors' popularity. Chin up, George. And vest foot forward.

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