By Coleen Smith, Staff Reporter

President Bush made several embarrassing gaffes in his recent visits to India and Pakistan. Once he referred to Pakistanis as Arabs, saying "I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbor for India and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world." The White House later said that he meant Muslim. I spoke to Jeffery Mathers, a White House aide who said, "You need to cut The President some slack. We only recently got him to say Arab correctly instead of pronouncing it 'Ay-rab'. He still hasn't grasped that all the people who pray to Allah and accept Muhammad as his prophet are Muslims, but not all Muslims are Arabs. We are confident that he will learn the difference soon. It wasn't quite as bad as what he did in India." Mathers explained that Bush held up his arm saying "How, Kemosabe!", greeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Bush said that he had learned that traditional Indian greeting by watching The Lone Ranger.  Mathers told me "The President hasn't gotten out of his regular social circle very often. Prime Minister Singh understands that. It is just like over there when the higher castes don't hang around with the untouchables. Who can blame him for being a little confused, asking why no one was wearing feathered headdresses and so many looked like Hare Krishnas at the airport."

Bush was there in the hopes of reaching a nuclear accord with New Delhi, a hard sell considering that India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. "America and India have become good friends," Bush said. "Where would our computer companies be without India? But we can be better friends if we can all agree about what to do with the nuculer stuff."

On his visit to Pakistan, calling them Arabs was not his only gaffe. He joined a cricket match with Pakistani youths, and said: "I've seen this game on TV. It is an English version of our baseball called beetle or grasshopper, some kind of bug name like that. Probably because the bats are so good for squishing bugs. It must be real easy with these big flat bats. The little round ones we use are harder to hit balls with." In spite of his claims that cricket must be easy, he didn't seem to take to it very well.

Bush briefly visited Afghanistan, but didn't seem to understand why he was there. A brief stop in Saudi Arabia was also part of his trip. Mathers said that The President wanted to personally assure "Bandar Bush", Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, that he really did not mean it when he announced his advanced energy initiative. It was just speechmaking, saying that the US would break its addiction to middle eastern oil and get serious about alternative energy sources like ethanol and hydrogen. "That was just some politicing, Bandar old buddy!" The President told him. "We have to tell people things like that. Some of the Congressmen and Senators in my party don't have paperless touch screen voting yet, and will have to fight hard to be re-elected. We will keep buying all the oil you have to sell as long as you have it. Don't worry. That's what friends are for."

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