THE BLOG
06/03/2008 01:40 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Where Dick Cheney Gets His Sense of Humor: My Own Family "Bushism" Moment

Dick Cheney's recent joke about West Virginia being full of inbred citizens prompted the following response from Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat, according to The Charleston Gazette: "I truly cannot believe that any vice president of the United States, regardless of their political affiliation, would make such a derogatory statement about my state or any state, for that matter."

Vice President, hell! Joe Manchin, meet George W. Bush.

Back in 1991, my mother ran into the future governor and president waiting to pay at the car wash in their neighborhood. He was dressed in filthy clothes, his SUV covered in mud, and they recognized each other as secret service agents hovered. "Oh, hi," he said, adding self-consciously, "Sorry I look so awful, but I just drove in from the lake house outside Athens and haven't been home to clean up."

(You may remember news stories back then about his little fishing lodge in the country, where he'd relax with wealthy oil buddies who owned the nearby and racially-exclusive "Koon Kreek Klub" - yes, spelled that way.)

Anyway, mom replied, "Oh, that's fine, I understand returning from the lake, and by the way, George...." She was attempting to interject that she knows the area around the small East Texas town of Athens, having been born and raised not far away, but before she could finish, Bush cut her off, saying, "It's kinda rugged out there, know what I mean?"

She then tried to tell him - again - that she was originally from that area, but again he interrupted, this time saying "As a matter of fact, it's downright feral out there, wouldn't surprise me if they've all got the same grandparents, heh heh heh."

This stopped her cold. Now fully insulted, she gave him her best steely-eyed glare and responded: "You know, George, not everyone from East Texas shares the same grandparents. I've been trying to tell you I'm from that part of the state, but you haven't listened. And for the record, I bet inbreeding exists out in Midland, or even up in Connecticut."

With that the conversation ended, and while visibly chastened, George slunk away offering no apology for his rudeness.

Mom called that night to relate the story and we had a good laugh. She suggested he sure had work to do before he could ever be governor. Unfortunately, Texans were overly enamored with the family name at the time because Bush the Elder was the sitting president; the son would defeat Ann Richards in 1994.

By 2000, the mainstream media was belittling Al Gore incessantly for being a prissy know-it-all, while assuring us that Shrub, a prissy know-nothing, was the kind of guy we wanted to have a beer with while grilling in the backyard.

Cookout or car wash, W was always someone to be avoided, and plenty of people have long known it. He may have stopped drinking at 40, but the nature of a man/frat boy doesn't suddenly change at that age. This also goes for Dick Cheney, it turns out, but it's too late now.