The Odd Couple

The elder Bush and Clinton meet as friends, not foes, in New Hampshire.

May 19, 2007— -- Fifteen years ago, then-Gov. Bill Clinton got him fired from his job as "leader of the free world." But that doesn't seem to bother former President George H.W. Bush too much these days.

The political odd couple -- one a gregarious baby boomer, the other a genteel guardian of the greatest generation and both members of the world's most exclusive club of former American presidents -- was on the road again this weekend.

They've helped raise more than $1 billion in U.S. aid for tsunami victims and more than $130 million for those devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but on Saturday, 42 (a.k.a. Clinton) and 41 (a.k.a. Bush) took on perhaps the most politically-charged challenge of their friendship to date: venturing into New Hampshire, the heart of presidential politics and home to the nation's first primary in 2008.

Bygones for Bush, Madame President for Clinton

Appearing as dual commencement speakers at the University of New Hampshire's graduation, team Bush-Clinton kept things bipartisan.

Bush spoke first, and quickly keyed off a spirited introduction that took note of his recent penchant for skydiving.

"I love the sensation of free falling at one hundred and twenty miles per hour," the octogenarian told the crowd of eager grads, "but Barbara, my Barbara, was not quite as keen on the entire undertaking."

Bush continued to the delight of the crowd.

"I finished strong and down by myself landed on the sands of Mesa [Arizona] and turned to Barbara and said, 'What'd you think about that one?' She said, 'I haven't seen a freefall like that since the '92 election,'" he said.

At 82, former President Bush holds the distinction of being the country's oldest living president -- notably only a few years older than the University's eldest member of the class of 2007 at a spry 79.

Clinton -- at 60, a tad closer to the school's youngest grad, age 17 -- picked up on his predecessor's theme.

"My great curse in life for winning the '92 election," Clinton said, "is that God has ordained that I spend the rest of it being George Bush's straight man."

Clinton came nearest to mentioning the unmentionable -- namely the 2008 election. The former President made a not-so-subtle reference to his wife's aspirations when thanking the female president of the University of New Hampshire.

"Madame President Newman, that has a nice ring to it," Clinton joked, timing a pause just right as to allow the crowd a moment before adding, "I've decided women should run everything; George and I can spend more time playing golf."

Bush-Clinton Dynasty

For the past 26 years, a member of either the Bush or Clinton family has been in the White House -- and, as Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., makes her historic bid for the Oval Office, it's clear the Clintons would like to extend that streak to 32 if not 36 years.

But will Americans grow tired of Bush-Clinton dynasty?

"I think the public is quite ambivalent about this," opines Robert Dallek, a historian who has studied and taught on the presidency at Boston University, Columbia and Oxford. "On one hand, they are drawn to the familiar and the Bushes and Clintons are quite familiar."

But there is a downside to a double family dynasty, says Dallek: "On the other hand, there is a kind of desultory mood and I think there is a yearning to move on."

Transcending Politics

No matter what the future may hold for either the Bush or Clinton clan, it's clear the friendship struck between two formal rivals is not just for show.

"I cannot tell you the selfish pleasure I get out of working with President Clinton," Bush told the near graduates of the University of New Hampshire. "It's a very selfish feeling I have in my heart that we can be out there transcending politics, doing something to help others."

Clinton returned the compliment.

"Our differences are important; they matter. They make life more interesting and they aid the search for truth," he said, "but our common humanity matters more."

On the eve of the first election since 1928 without a sitting president or vice president in the race, in a state that well may determine the longevity of their shared dynasty -- both presidents spoke of giving back.

President Clinton, who spoke of "seeing" and recognizing ourselves in others, said, "There's nothing beyond the reach of our common endeavor because it's our common endeavor."

"You don't have to be a president to be a leader and to touch the lives of your fellow countrymen," former President Bush said.

"Unless you're Shirley MacLaine," Bush concluded, "you only get one shot at this life," before later adding, "Be bold in your caring, be bold in your dreaming and above all else, always do your best."

ABC News' Liz Marlantes and Quiana Burns contributed to this report.