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In memoir, Laura Bush reveals painful events during husband's presidency

Direct action

Here is a rare instance in which she reveals herself taking direct action:

When Dick Cheney accidentally shot a hunting partner during a quail-shooting expedition in Texas, it was nearly four days before the White House responded. Laura Bush, who was returning from Italy, asked her chief of staff to call White House Chief of Staff Andy Card in the middle of the night. "I wanted to urge the vice president's office to state the facts, to be open, and to answer all questions. There was no need to say anything but the truth. Silence, which was all that was coming from the West Wing, was worse."

Pilfering is a problem at the White House; guests sometimes walked out with hand towels stuffed in their jackets or purses; flatware disappeared from tables. "One prominent television personality [mmmm . . . who?!] was known for having a collection of White House paper hand towels, monogrammed with the presidential seal, in her powder room. She had 'accumulated' them when she came for interviews."

And here, too, are tales of security lapses and brazen misbehavior:

One woman shows up at the White House, placed on the guest list by a Senate office, and three federal bench warrants pop up with her Social Security number in the Secret Service database. The woman insists on draping her fur over her handcuffed hands as she is led away. A school aide touring the residence with a group of preschoolers is detained for being in the country illegally. Performers open up big black cases and start selling jewelry to other performers right in the Vermeil Room.

In 432 pages, there are three brief mentions of Barack Obama.

And there are only two sentences raising the curtain on the 44th presidency:

"As in so many years past, Inauguration Day 2009 was cold. It was also historic, as the nation swore in its first African-American president."

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