'Misunderestimated' Bushisms 'Resignate'

Don't "misunderestimate" President Bush's "embettered" English. Bushisms are big business and worthy of "analyzation."

A talking Bush doll, a Bushisms calendar and several best-selling books celebrate the president's unique gift of gab.

Whether it's pronouncing nuclear as "NOO-kyuh-luhr," botching speeches, or coining new words like "Hispanically," Bush just seems to "resignate" with Americans.

President Rivals Dilbert

The 2003 George W. Bush Quote Calendar has became a national sensation, selling more than 110,000 copies in the last two months, and joining such perennial powerhouses as Dilbert and The Far Side on Barnes & Noble and Calendars.com's Top 10 lists.

Bush's mangled words are even finding their way into the English language. "Misunderestimate" tops the list of 2002's new words, according to YourDictionary.com.

There are more than 10,000 references to "misunderestimate" on the Internet. Even if the word is often used as a joke, the president's impact is unmistakable, editors say.

For those of you not fluent in Bush-speak, the Web site offers these definitions. Examples of their usage are offered here as documented by Jacob Weisberg's best sellers Bushisms and More Bushisms.

• Misunderestimate: To seriously underestimate. Usage: "They misunderestimated me." (Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000)

• Embetter: To make better. Usage: "I want to thank the … people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves." (Washington, D.C., April 18, 2002)

• Resignate: To resonate. Usage: "This issue doesn't seem to resignate with the people." (Portland, Ore., Oct. 31, 2000)

• Foreign-handed: To understand foreign policy. Bush usage: "I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy." (Redwood, Calif., Sept. 27, 2000)

• Analyzation: Analysis. Bush usage: "This case has had full analyzation and has been looked at a lot. I understand the emotionality of death penalty cases." (June 23, 2000)

There's a blooper reel for every modern president — even those hailed as master communicators. It's no wonder. Every word they publicly utter is recorded and dissected. But Bush is on his way to become the Yogi Berra of American politics.

It's a talent that's been apparent since he set out on the campaign trail. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family," he told supporters in January 2000 at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, shortly before the New Hampshire primary.

Bush addressed education policy in South Carolina: "Rarely is the question asked, Is our children learning?"

Then, debating rival John McCain, Bush made overtures to unite his party. "I think we agree, the past is over," he said, after complaining that the Arizona senator "can't take the high horse and then claim the low road." How to Push the President’s Button

Toy merchant John Warnock and his family struck gold just before Christmas with a talking George W. Bush doll — a $30, 12 ½-inch action figure that demonstrates the president's way with words with 17 "powerful and patriotic phrases."

Push the plastic president's button and he says all your favorite things, such as, "I don't need to be 'sublim-in-able' about the differences between our views."

More than 12,000 Bush dolls sold in less than a week, when supplies ran out, Warnock says. In the days before Christmas, they were selling on eBay for $250, making the commander in chief this year's Tickle Me Elmo.

Through it all, Bush laughs off his critics. "You have to admit in my sentences, I have gone where no man has gone before," he joked at his own expense at the 2001 White House Correspondents Dinner.

But if we laugh at Bush, we should remember that he's not the only national politician who's been roasted for his malapropisms. Al Gore certainly has been known to trip over his tongue.

On the campaign trail in 1996, Gore visited a school in a largely Hispanic section of Albuquerque, N.M., and decided to use a little Spanish. He tried to say "muchas gracias" ("many thanks"). Instead he waved and told the crowd, "machismo gracias" ("manliness thanks").

Then, in 1998, after Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their sixth NBA championship, the vice president offered this assessment of the game: "I tell you that Michael Jackson is unbelievable, isn't he? He's just unbelievable."

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

Comments