Numb and Numbers: Bush's Vacation Days equal the Number of E-mails Shredded

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Bush isn't checking his e-mails. Or maybe he is.

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White House

Terrier strike on America: Bush and Barney show plenty of drive while on vacation in Crawford.

While George W. Bush has spent a record amount of time vacationing at his ranch, he hasn't been checking his e-mail. Or maybe his stooges did check it — in the sense of a hockey player checking an opponent by slamming him into the boards and destroying him — and thus prevented that flood of messages from ever seeing the light of day.

The numbers game for America's numbest president are eerie: A report released by watchdog congressman Henry Waxman — judging by his performance, Waxman works 24/7 — reveals that 473 days of White House e-mail are missing. At the same time, Bush is on pace to have spent 499 days on vacation during his two terms. Most of it has been spent hunkering down in his Crawford, Texas, bunker.

The Washington Post's Dan Eggen and Elizabeth Williamson report this morning:

The White House possesses no archived e-mail messages for many of its component offices, including the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President, for hundreds of days between 2003 and 2005, according to the summary of an internal White House study that was disclosed yesterday by a congressional Democrat.

The 2005 study — whose credibility the White House attacked this week — identified 473 separate days in which no electronic messages were stored for one or more White House offices, said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

Now go back to Julie Mason's story in the August 9, 2007, Houston Post:

President Bush tries to set an example for Americans whenever he can, in terms of physical fitness, faith, optimism and a certain overall moral rectitude. He also sets an excellent example on taking vacation.

Bush left [on August 9] for a weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine, and his family's summer compound, Walker's Point. On Monday, he heads to his Crawford retreat, where he has spent all or part of 418 days of his presidency, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS News White House correspondent and meticulous record-keeper.

Mason's smart story notes Bush's record-breaking non-performance:

The presidential vacation-time record holder is the late Ronald Reagan, who tallied 436 days in his two terms. At 418 days, and with 17 months to go in his presidency, Bush is going to beat that easily.

Even so, this year's August vacation for Bush is a contrast to previous years such as 2005, when he dragged out vacation in Texas to five weeks. That was also the year Bush remained on vacation immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit.

Do the math: Bush had taken 418 days of vacation in his first 6.7 years in office. That works out to 62.4 vacation days a year — a little more than 12 work weeks, which is probably slightly more vacation time than you get. On the other hand, think how much more damage Bush could have done if he hadn't taken so much vacation.

Anyway, multiply 62.4 days a year by eight and you get 499 total days of vacation.

Compare that with the 473 days of e-mail missing. All Bush's handlers have to do to keep pace is destroy 26 more days of e-mails. They can probably handle that.


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