All the world leaders at the G-8 Summit are supposed to be equal in stature. But in some ways, President George W. Bush is more equal than others.
It became evident as each of the leaders arrived for the opening-night dinner of the summit at a stately Baroque manor house dating back to the 18th century on an estate called Hohen Luckow.
First came Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, then Italy's Romano Prodi, Canada's Stephen Harper and Britain's Tony Blair. They were followed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Russia's Vladimir Putin. They each arrived in a chauffeur-driven minivan supplied by the German government.
But when Mr. Bush pulled up, it wasn't in a minivan: He and the First Lady stepped out of one of his familiar black Cadillac presidential limousines with D.C. license plates. It was a reminder that the U.S. Secret Service and the Pentagon spend a considerable fortune flying presidential vehicles all over the world.
Soviet leaders used to get that kind of treatment during the days of the Cold War: Mikhail Gorbachev was a familiar sight getting out of a lumbering Russian-made Zil limo. But at the G-8 dinner, it was a minivan like everyone else for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife.
But it's not just his ground ride that puts the American president a notch above the other leaders, at least in terms of transportation.
Of course, they each flew here aboard one of their country's government planes — some big and impressive, others less so. Putin arrived on an Ilyushin 96, a four-engine aircraft reminiscent of an old Boeing 707. But none of the aircraft came close to matching the grandeur of the 747 that serves as Air Force One.
To transport the leaders from the airport here in Rostock to the site of the summit at a luxury hotel on the Baltic Sea in the town of Heiligendamm, the German government provided a state police helicopter.
But not for President Bush: He flew on one of the familiar green-and white-top helicopters that serve as Marine One back home.
On this trip, the HMX-1 unit that provides presidential chopper service is flying the VH-60N Black Hawk. It's the smaller companion of the VH-3D Sea King that most frequently serves as Marine One.
President Bush is known to refer to the smaller chopper as "the Volkswagen" — so it seems somehow appropriate that that's what he's flying here in Germany.
By Mark Knoller