In this week's issue, Jon Ward tags along with George W. Bush on the former president's annual mountain bike ride at his Crawford, Texas, ranch.
Bush invites military veterans to join him on the three-day ride, known as Warrior 100K. Seventy-five riders, including 13 veterans, participated this year, trailing the man who initiated the wars that left many of them physically and psychologically wounded. As Ward writes, "It's a ritual of thanks and bonding that might seem fraught from the outside, but that everyone who takes part seems to enjoy."
The story, in many ways, provides a familiar glimpse of Bush. There's the same competitive spirit ("he takes great pleasure in smoking riders who think they can hang with him"), and the penchant for doling out nicknames. Yet we also see a more reflective side. "I don't long for [fame]," he says. "Nor do I long for power. I've come to realize that power can be corrosive if you've had it for too long."
As he rides through his 1,500-acre ranch -- along winding trails, beside ridges overlooking deep gorges -- with some of the men he ordered into combat, does he feel responsible for their injuries? Does he second-guess the decisions that led to the war in Iraq?
"Every one of these men were volunteers," he says. "None of them are angry. They themselves don't blame anybody. And so I believe strongly that the decisions I made were the right decisions, you know? I knew going in that there were bad consequences to war. That's why, if people study my decision, they would recognize I tried to solve the problems diplomatically."
Elsewhere in the issue, Mallika Rao looks at a subset of fans of Andy Kaufman who believe the comedian faked his death. These fans, who refer to themselves as "the disciples," are willing to look past certain things, including Kaufman's death certificate, dated May 16, 1984. Gathering in person, and online -- at AndyKaufmanLives.com -- they work through various conspiracy theories, rooted in the belief that a man so dedicated to upending expectations could not, and would not, have gone quietly.
Even among this community of death-hoax conspiracy theorists, there are those who acknowledge that the possibility that Andy Kaufman is alive out there somewhere, plotting a glorious return, is slim. Like Bob Pagani, who says, "I know people at the wake in Long Island literally leaned over the casket and said, 'Andy, if you're faking, please stop.' I wish he had been faking, but I just don't think it's possible."
Still, for many, the way Kaufman lived makes an ordinary, un-theatrical death seem somehow implausible. As Mallika writes, "Even a reasonable fan might have seen in the scope of Kaufman's lunacy a promise that he'd someday try the ultimate prank."
Finally, as part of our ongoing effort to put the spotlight on the destructive effects of stress, we tap into the wisdom of elderly Americans to learn about how they view the things that stressed them out in hindsight.
This story appears in Issue 53 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, June 14.