From Air Bud to Jesus: The 5 Inspirations for George W. Bush's Latest Batch of Paintings

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The pseudointellectual parsings of Dubya's most recent batch of hacked paintings are dumb. The screengrabs, the half-finished backings, the skewed perspectives -- all of these paintings' realities illustrate that Bush remains a novice, whose talent, while extant, still needs progress before he can convey whatever's truly happening in his Iraq-addled mind. The promise is there, but the quality still lacks. Let's leave all armchair analysis aside.

Still, while we all look at the paintings with some brew of chagrin and confusion -- the ache in his topless, thousand-yard shower scene is as palpable as the economic crater he left behind -- we can also see where Bush may have reached to for inspiration. Leaving Cheney and Rove and Rummy to influence his horrific policy decisions, Bush seems to have reached out to other sources to influence the subjects and styles of his paintings.

Again, while this is all reading the tea leaves, Hair Balls wanted to share five theories as to where Dubya may have looked for aesthetic inspiration. Because, hey, who knows -- it's entirely possible Bush spent most of his days in the White House examining different strains of artistic history. Guy certainly wasn't studying up on much else.

5. Ansel Adams Bush, who so effectively crafted a facetious image as a Western boot-strapper, is almost certainly familiar with the most seminal photographer of the American West. Capturing the austere majesty of the Montana Rockies and Alaskan plains, hooking a generation of Americans to Yellowstone's blisteringly beautiful scenery, Adams helped paint the romanticism of an untamable, unassailed West. And while Bush's attempts at cañons and West Texas outcroppings may fall a bit short of Adams's eye, it's clear that some of that wild freedom -- the kind of imagery that, from a distance, looks serene (a bird's-eye view of Afghanistan, if you will) -- has stuck.

4. The California Raisins There are few more ad campaigns as affable and beloved as Will Vinton's California Raisins, who serenaded American audiences into improving their fiber intake. While these Raisins have dried up -- there's only so much of a market remaining for stop-motion animation, unfortunately -- it appears that Bush has found a resonance with the pruney products. True, Bush's finest attempt consisted of grapes, but there's a certain parallel, a certain harkening, to the transition from Dubya's earliest days as the good-ol' guv to, a dozen years on, a shrunken, shriveled shell, hoping that those observing, and those who still care, can still see some of that affability shine through.

3. Air Bud Much like the Raisins before him, Air Bud presented one of the most dependable and delighting characters television has ever known. There was such trust conveyed through that initial appearance -- such a thread tying an audience and its dog -- that no blacktop defeat could ever break it. And while Bush squandered any such faith within his Administration's early phases, perhaps he feels that the clock's not yet run out. Like Air Bud before him -- like the dogs lounging and longing through 43's paintings -- Bush hopes to convey such musing, such hope, through his canvas canines.

Plus, for someone who struggled with such physical exertion -- Segways, anyone? -- there's a certain ring to Bush looking to someone so athletically successful for a bit of inspiration.

2. Barack Obama Probably a bit of a stretch, but, look: There are no golfers more well-known, more maligned and more tethered to Bush than Obama. The connection between the two is eternal; the expanse along the fairway stretches ad infinitum. Both characters within the frame stand, staring at pristine flag flapping brightly in well-tended wilderness.

Bush has surely seen footage of a beaming Barack shooting his ball along the green, free in the knowledge that he can claim economic recovery, an end in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a place rightly angled on expansive social issues. All it takes is a bit of a dab and a few moments of imagination to pair the two, putting the pain of those eight failed years into the hole of erasure.

1. Jesus An obvious choice, perhaps, and one that no compassionate conservative could potentially overlook. A golden cross, perched and shining. Potted plants, living, flowering, despite being severed from the root. A trio of raised objects -- a trinity of balance and unity -- captured within our field of vision, with little but blackness and confusion surrounding. Religion moved Bush's domestic policy. So, too, does it move his brush.

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