Bush's Driving Ambition Realized

(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Watching the president welcome NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to the Bush ranch yesterday, it drove home one of the reasons Mr. Bush loves the place so much.

He gets to drive there.

Like a teenager showing off his first car, President Bush proudly drove up to the helicopter landing zone on his ranch in his honking big white Ford F250 pickup truck.

"A little slice of heaven," he proclaimed to reporters, presumably referring to his ranch on a warm spring day in central Texas.

And part of the heavenly appeal seems to be that the ranch is the only place where Mr. Bush gets to drive a real gas-powered motor vehicle.

He does get behind the wheel at Camp David, but only in a golf cart that runs on a rechargeable battery.

For six years as Texas governor, and for the last six and a half years as president, Mr. Bush has been relegated to the back seat of any vehicle he's in. For someone who likes to drive, that produces a strong yearning to put one's pedal to the metal.

He gets to do that at his ranch. He gets to drive the bouncy, unpaved roads all around his 1600 acres. And he gets to do it wearing the clothes he's most comfortable in. Yesterday, he was in cowboy mode wearing blue jeans, a short sleeve shirt and western boots. The NATO chief seemed positively overdressed as he arrived at the ranch wearing a european-cut blue blazer over an open collar dress shirt.

Mr. Bush escorted his guest and his wife over to the pickup. The spouse joined First Lady Laura Bush in the back seat of the expanded cab, and the NATO chief took the passenger seat next to the President.

Neither of them were seen to buckle their seat belts.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.