Bush's 'Hands-On' Diplomacy With German Chancellor Raises Eyebrows

Talk about hands-on diplomacy. A caught-on-tape moment at the recent G8 summit shows President Bush swooping in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to give her a quick shoulder rub before proceeding to his seat.

Merkel looks stunned and visibly recoils from Bush's touch.

The tabloids have pounced, and so have comedians like Jon Stewart.

"That is the chancellor of Germany disengaging herself from the president of the United States," Stewart said as the clip played on "The Daily Show" last night.

Comedian Hal Sparks said of the quickie massage, "Anybody with an ounce of sympathy was immediately creeped out for this woman, who you know is sitting trying to focus on some very important issues and Bush rolls by and goes, 'What's up girlfriend!'"

We've all had those moments -- when someone invades our personal space by getting too close.

On his hit sitcom, comedian Jerry Seinfeld gave that guy a name: the "close talker."

You would think world leaders might be more careful, but consider the challenge of being friendly across very different cultures.

"Personal space is completely different depending on the culture. It's very different across cultures, so you have to be respectful and knowledgeable," said body language expert Lillian Glass.

French President Jacques Chirac got a glare from first lady Laura Bush when he gave her a typically French kiss on her hand. President Bush once held hands with a Saudi Prince -- totally acceptable in Riyadh, a little less conventional in Crawford, Texas.

And let's face it. The president is known for being a friendly, Texas kind of guy. He planted a kiss on his nominee to head the education department just days after kissing Condi Rice.

So where do world leaders -- and the rest of us -- draw the line when it comes to respecting others' personal space?

That line seems to move depending on the situation and the person.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, was criticized a month ago when he kissed a young boy's belly, later explaining he felt an urge to "squeeze him like a kitten.''

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