Earth Day Dispatch: First, You Pick Up A Shovel ...

Mark Knoller is a White House Correspondent for CBS News.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

It was a ceremony to mark Earth Day – and nearing the end of their summit - the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico were going to plant a tree.

In Lafayette Square in the city's business district, President Bush, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Felipe Calderon walked side-by-side towards a pile of dirt with three shovels standing upright in it - like the Excalibur sword-in-the-stone.

"So what do you want us to do?" asked Mr. Bush – although it seemed obvious.

"Take a little dirt and put it in the hole," the event organizer explained to the three leaders – who obediently did just that.

They filled their shovels with some dirt and emptied them into the hole where a young Oak had been positioned.

"I'm not used to shoveling this kind of dirt," said Harper – a not-so veiled reference to what politicians in all countries freely shovel to voters.

"One more," said Mr. Bush, clearly feeling that once was not enough.

And the leaders repeated their procedure.

"Very nice," said the organizer – and a small audience witnessing the ceremony burst into applause.

None of the leaders said a word about Earth Day or planting trees. But the organizer was impressed and told Mr. Bush: "When you leave the White House you can come plant some trees."

Well, a job offer is a job offer.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.