Nov. 8, 2007 | Conventional wisdom has it that George W. Bush became a "born-again" Christian in the summer of 1985, after extended private talks with Reverend Billy Graham. As recounted by Bush himself in "A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House," a ghostwritten autobiography prepared for the 2000 presidential campaign, one evening at Walker's Point, the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, Graham, spiritual confidant to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan and a close friend of the Bush family, sat down by the fireplace and gave a talk. "I don't remember the exact words," Bush wrote. "It was more the power of his example. The Lord was so clearly reflected in his gentle and loving demeanor…"
"Over the course of that weekend, Reverend Graham planted a mustard seed in my soul, a seed that grew over the next year," [Bush] continued. "He led me to the path, and I began walking."
There's just one problem with Bush's account of his conversion experience: it's not true. For one thing, when Billy Graham was asked about the episode by NBC's Brian Williams, he declined to corroborate Bush's account. "I've heard others say that [I converted Bush], and people have written it, but I cannot say that," Graham said. "I was with him and I used to teach the Bible at Kennebunkport to the Bush family when he was a younger man, but I never feel that I in any way turned his life around."
Even if one doesn't accept Graham's candid response, there's another good reason to believe that the account in Bush's book is fiction. Mickey Herskowitz, a sportswriter for the Houston Chronicle who became close friends with the Bush family and was originally contracted to ghostwrite "A Charge to Keep," recalled interviewing Bush about it when he was doing research for the book. "I remember asking him about the famous meeting at Kennebunkport with the Reverend Billy Graham...." Herskowitz said. "And you know what? He couldn't remember a single word that passed between them."
Herskowitz was so stunned by Bush's memory lapse that he began prompting him. "It was so unlikely he wouldn't remember anything Billy Graham said, especially because that was a defining moment in his life. So I asked, 'Well, Governor, would he have said something like, "Have you gotten right with God?'"
According to Herskowitz, Bush was visibly taken aback and bristled at the suggestion. "No," Bush replied. "Billy Graham isn't going to ask you a question like that."
Herskowitz met with Bush about twenty times for the project and submitted about ten chapters before Bush's staff, working under director of communications Karen Hughes, took control of it. But when Herskowitz finally read "A Charge to Keep" he was stunned by its contents. "Anyone who is writing a memoir of George Bush for campaign purposes knew you had to have some glimpse of what passed between Bush and Billy Graham," he said. But Hughes and her team had changed a key part. "It had Graham asking Bush, 'George, are you right with God?'"
In other words, Herskowitz's question to Bush was now coming out of Billy Graham's mouth. "Karen Hughes picked it off the tape," said Herskowitz.
Only Karen Hughes and George W. Bush could tell a lie about finding the truth.
And don't forget: George W. Bush sent Karen Hughes, who happily lied about Billy Graham to a largely Christian country, to Muslim countries to convince those people of America's honesty.
These people could only exist in real life.
Writers of parody and satire, and ridiculous fiction would be too embarrassed to ask their readers to believe that such horrendously stupid and incompetent, and dishonest, and malevolent characters could actually impossibly wind up in The White House.