WASHINGTON, April 11, 2005 — -- President Bush is not exactly known for his dance moves or musical tastes, but he is now a frequent iPod user.
His daughters gave him the popular, portable digital music player for his birthday, and presidential media adviser Mark McKinnon says the president is never more of a "pod person" than when exercising.
"It's heart-thumping music," McKinnon said. "This is music to mountain-bike ride by. He likes to get the heart beat up to 170."
Although it can store up to 10,000 songs, the president's iPod currently only contains about 250 -- lots of country, of course, like George Jones, but also Joni Mitchell's "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care" and Stevie Ray Vaughn's "The House Is Rockin'," as first reported in The New York Times.
If the iPod is a mirror into the soul, what do these songs say about the commander in chief?
"It's consistent with Bush's image as plain-spoken Texan and man of the people," said Dave Itzkoff, a senior associate editor of Spin magazine. "It seems to be the playlist of somebody who stopped listening to popular music in the 1980s."
The president does not exactly surf the Net, hunting for tight tunes. The songs are purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Web site by either Bush's personal aide Blake Gottesman or McKinnon, a former songwriter for Kris Kristofferson.
Not every song on the presidential playlist is as "on message" as Alan Jackson's "Gone Country." It also includes musicians who campaigned against him, such as John Fogerty.
"The fact is that any president who would limit themselves to pro-establishment musicians would have a pretty slim collection," McKinnon said.
Also on the "First iPod" is the rather naughty 1979 song "My Sharona" by the Knack, about a man pursuing a much younger woman.
Among the song's lyrics: "Keeping it in a mystery, it gets to me, running down the length of my thighs, Sharona."
Said Itzkoff: "This wouldn't be consistent with Bush's image as protector of conservative values."
"No one should psychoanalyze the playlist," said McKinnon. "It's really just great songs designed to for a great workout. And if there any songs in there with controversial lyrics, I'll take the heat for that."