In her column today, Maureen Dowd refers to a cheeky, oft-cited line that Laura Bush (at the time still Laura Welch) fired off when, during her first visit to Kennebunkport, she was asked by then-Bush family matriarch Dorothy Walker Bush what she liked to do. "I read, I smoke, and I admire," Laura allegedly replied.

As Maureen notes, many people find this anecdote charming: They see it as a sign that Laura isn't the glassy-eyed Stepford figure she so often appears to be, but instead has a lively, subversive streak. For her part, Laura publicly has denied the incident--despite its having been spread by her own mother-in-law, Barbara.

I tend to think that at least part of this quote did indeed originate in Barbara's head. Why? Because it's just too darn similar to a description of her own life that Barbara, in 1974, sent to the Smith Alumnae Quarterly: "I play tennis, do vol. work and admire George Bush!" (I recall this quote because it appeared in Marjorie Williams' August 1992 Vanity Fair examination of Barbara Bush--one of the most memorable and moving magazine profiles I've ever read. The piece was included in Marjorie's posthumously published book, which, though a couple of years old, I still hawk every chance I get.)

Who uses that construction: I this, I that, and I admire? And what are the odds of Laura coming out with that line just a couple of years after Barbara had authored something so similar? Either some kind of brainwashing occurs the minute a woman considers joining the Bush tribe, or someone is indulging in a little historical revisionism.

Happily, in another few months, we can go back to ignoring the Bush clan and their strangely admiring women--at least until Jebbie runs for POTUS.  

--Michelle Cottle