On Election Eve, Bush Huddles with Bishop...
But, no, it's not what you'd think.
Earlier today, the departing POTUS met with the new Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo -- the onetime "bishop of the poor" who resigned his see to run for the post, and was laicized by Rome shortly after winning election in April.
From the latter's Oval Office remarks:
Many people have asked, why now? And I think that it's particularly important to visit President Bush in his last days in the White House because we think it's very important to impress upon the world the importance of democratic institutions, and also because we believe that we, as individual people, pass. We have written that our personal history is not as important as the history of our respective peoples.
In Paraguay, I have entered politics in order to change the history of our country. We have not come into politics in order to get into the smokeless industry that is to steal from the people of the country. We came in as Christians, because our Christian duty is to serve the poorest and the neediest of our people. And today, as President of Paraguay, we're taking on all of the challenges with the greatest serenity possible so that we can help our people.
We are profoundly hurt in our souls by poverty, by the exodus of our young people, by the lack of education, by people who don't have roofs over their heads. We are profoundly moved by those people. But that pain is also impregnated with courage and decisiveness. And we have said since the very beginning that if there was anything that was to distinguish our government, it would be international solidarity.PHOTOS: Reuters(1); Eric Draper/The White House(2)
I'll never forget that when I talked to one of our agricultural people, one of the people out in the country, a farmer who said, "What we need is bread. We don't care if it comes from the left hand or from the right hand, we just need somebody to give us food." And that's why we're here, because the Paraguayans have asked us to be here as President to try to recover Paraguay's dignity as a nation.
And I told President Bush that we have a lot of dreams, collective dreams, but also my personal dream. And our dream is that Paraguay be known not for its corruption, but for its transparency and for its dignity as a people and as a country. And we believe, we're convinced, that we will be able to achieve that.