— -- (French bistro music)
SNOW: Ahhhh French. The language of love. Required for diplomats. And the elite!!
(accordian music dramatically stops)
SNOW: Then came ... Freedom fries ...
US SERVICEMAN (delivering Letterman's "Top Ten" List): "If the French don't like us we must be doing something right."
SNOW: President Bush even scolded a reporter who posed a question to the French President ... en Francais.
BUSH (speaking to NBC's David Gregory in France): "The guy memorizes four words and he plays like he's intercontinental."
KERRY: "Laissez les bons temps roulez" (French for "let the good times roll")
SNOW: For John Kerry, it's become, how do you say? Un "problemme" in this feisty political season.
DELAY (Republican House Leader speaking to College Republicans): "Good afternoon. Or as John Kerry would say, Bon Jour!"
SNOW: Yes, it's true.
OFF-CAMERA REPORTER ASKING KERRY: "Parlez vous francais?"
SNOW: "John Kerry speaks almost perfect French."
SNOW: And President Bush's allies are making hay of it ... with Internet ads.
RNC's APRIL FOOL'S INTERNET AD: "all of it has his French cousin very upset!" LINK
SNOW: The Kerry campaign says the whole thing is ridiculous. And Kerry's French cousin agrees. He's the mayor of a town in Brittany where Kerry's grandparents bought a chateau.
KERRY'S COUSIN: "You don't become French because you spent a few holidays when you are a child, I mean, it's so silly."
SNOW: But ridiculous or not, Kerry won't speak much French in public. He did answer questions in French once. Broadcast all over France. But the French TV station wouldn't give us the tape because they-and the Kerry camp-worried it might end up in a Bush campaign ad.
(Video of Kerry playing guitar)
SNOW: It's not an unfounded fear. Bush aides say they love to play up Kerry's Euro flair.
TERRY HOLT (Bush Campaign): "I think the American people want to know that they can go have a cup of coffee with their President, or you know, go share a cheeseburger."
(Video of Bush speaking Spanish).
SNOW: But if it's OK for the President to speak Spanish. Why should Kerry have to hide his French?
REGIS LE SOMMIER (Paris Match): "I think John Kerry should, should relax about, about all that.
I mean a lot of Americans have European backgrounds."
SNOW: Even President George W. Bush.
Kate Snow, ABC News, Washington.