Ok, all joking aside (and this is funny)…
Why does president Bush have to ask for permission to take a bathroom break?
Update: From a MeFi comment:
I don’t think anyone anticipated the levees breaking.
SHENANIGANS!!! Retracted, read on: On closer analysis, I call bullshit on the Reuters caption. I have a huge problem with this: Handwriting changes after question mark, this was likely passed from Condi (she is mentioned, so that’s the most logical) someone to Bush and he was replying (style seems to switch, one is hard capitals and moves to lazy cursive).
I have a feeling somebody’s gonna dig up the CSPAN video or whatever and nail Reuters to the wall (showing Bush never started a note pass or other such nonsense, I’m sure someone’s on that road already).
Don’t forget there’s other samples of Bush’s handwriting availiable in photo format (this is called evidence, natch): Let freedom reign, handwriting GIS.
How the caption should probably read:
U.S. President George W. Bush
writes a note to replies to a note from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice whoever
Again over at MeFi: kokogiak points out that neither looks like Rice’s handwriting either. Someone at Reuters may have either gotten punked by a photog or is just making up captions.
Update (9/15): I’m trying to get confirmation from Reuters on who provided the caption, was it edited, etc. Here’s an email I sent to Stephen Naru, the media contact who was mentioned in this Editor & Publisher article:
I am doing some investigating into the notorious Bush bathroom note and I was wondering if you could tell me who provided the caption. Was it printed verbatim as it was received from Wilking or was it edited by someone at Reuters before being sent across the wires?
Is there a way to get ahold of Wilking? I’d like to ask him to confirm some details if that’s a possibility.
Another Update: Snopes is on the case as well. It seems the truth is still getting its boots on.
Update (9/15 evening): Photo District News got a chance to talk to Rick Wilking and Reuters photo editor Gary Hershorn about the photograph. Based on the interview, it would appear that Bush actually did write the note:
The caption says that Bush was writing the note to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice; Hershorn says Wilking saw Bush write the note and hand the note to Rice.
Hershorn says heads of state seldom attend Security Council meetings, and it’s possible that Bush was simply asking his secretary of state what the proper protocol was to be excused.
I’d like to know whether Wilking saw him write the entire note (I’ll drop my shenanigans charge if he did), but I have a feeling there’s not going to be any more to this story.
MEA CULPA!!!: I retract my shenanigans call. Editor & Publisher follows up (via Wonkette):
The fact is, according to Reuters — and this has not been widely reported — President Bush did indeed take a bathroom break after passing the note to Rice.
This apparently raised some eyebrows around the room, because American representatives (among others) have a reputation for suddenly bolting, though normally for a far different reason than this latest one. Fair or not, the European press has already had a field day with the photo, often centering on the notion that Bush had to ask Rice for permission.
[...]“Rick had no idea what he was shooting, or what Bush was writing,” Hershorn said. “If Rick knew what he was writing we’d have 25 pictures of this, not two.”
[...]Gary Hershorn, news editor-photos for the Americas at Reuters, told E&P today that the photographer, Rick Wilking, informed him yesterday afternoon that he had observed Bush pass the note to Rice, and a little later, rise from his seat, leave the room, and then return.
Ok, everyone, you can go back to making jokes about the presidential poo now (I can’t wait to see The Daily Show on this tonight).