Interviewing George Bush...All 25 of Them

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DALLAS -- Martha Boone Mattia grew up overseas and says she had only a vague sense of what it meant to be an American. She was even puzzled by the patriotic outburst that followed the September
11th terror attacks.

The former newspaper reporter and public relations executive decided she could better understand the American character by interviewing George Bush -- 25 of them.

The result is "Conversations with George Bush" -- published by Brown Books Publishing this spring. For it, Mattia crisscrossed the country for two years interviewing people who share the president's name.

She says she admired the resilience of her subjects. She found them thoughtful but not always well-informed about national or world events. She saw more optimism than pessimism -- and less cynicism. She says they may not read as much, but they think a lot.

Almost all the Bushes she interviewed owned guns, but most favored some gun control. Nearly all opposed same-sex marriages, although some supported civil unions for gay couples. They agonized over abortion.

Most of Mattia's subjects liked George W. Bush, the president. They considered him honest, devout and determined to protect the country. A few critics said he was charming but headstrong, and they opposed his decision to invade Iraq.