Bush doll offers tough talk and occasional 'Dubya' flub

Saturday, December 14, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- A new President Bush doll is talking tough on terrorism, but like the real president, it occasionally misspeaks, too.

"We're working hard to put food on your family," says the 12.5-inch-tall likeness, which features clips from Bush speeches and campaign stops. "I will not hold this nation hostile."

The $29.99 doll sold out a first shipment of 12,000 this week, and a second shipment won't arrive until after Christmas.

"We anticipated it being a very popular item but we just didn't think it was going to take off that quick," said Jim Wessling, co-founder of Irvine, Calif.-based Talking Presidents.com Inc.

Most of the 17 sound clips are straightforward quotes about the war on terrorism and other topics -- such as "Terrorism against our nation will not stand" -- but the doll also offers some of Bush's malapropisms.

"There's nothing derogatory, everything is complimentary, there's nothing to make fun of him ... (but) the doll is a good representation of the president. There are two or three of his Bushisms," Wessling said.

It's unclear what Bush the president thinks of Bush the doll. The White House press office did not immediately return a call for comment.

Wessling and son-in-law John Warnock, the other co-founder, are "staunch Republicans," Wessling said. Warnock came up with the idea partly out of admiration for Bush.

A picture of the Bush doll appeared on the Drudge Report Web site last week, and the company got 600,000 Web hits in a single day and media calls from around the world. It took its phone number off the Web site and posted a message cautioning that no more dolls were immediately available.

The next group of 12,000 should ship from Hong Kong on Dec. 30 with a third shipment on its heels.

The fledgling company isn't planning to stop with Bush. A talking Ronald Reagan is in the works for the spring. After that, Wessling and Warnock plan to manufacture talking Richard Nixons, Bill Clintons, John F. Kennedys and George H.W. Bushes.

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