(Washingion D.C) Fortune -- On a wretchedly hot August day outside the Caterpillar tractor plant in Montgomery, Ill., President Bush and the state's congressional delegation gather for the signing of the massive transportation bill. This is 2005, the calm before the Katrina storm, and a rigorous mountain-biking schedule has the President in top shape.
In off-camera chitchat with the shirt-sleeved lawmakers, Bush takes note of Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel's deep tan, prompting the 46-year-old Emanuel to boast about the miles of swimming and biking in his triathlon training schedule. Testosterone oozes into the humid air space between the two men. Bush invites Emanuel down to Texas to do some real biking. "So I said, 'I'll make you a deal, Mr. President. I'll bike if you swim.' Now he didn't exactly say swimming was a wussy sport, but you could tell.... So I said, 'Mr. President, Laura can put your water wings next to the lake. You can have your water wings.' "
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