George W. Bush unveils his portrait of Stephen Harper
Being an ex-president is tough. You go from running the free world to being a regular joe in the blink of an eye. So what do you do when all the pomp and circumstance is over, when all the cheering stops?
Andrew Johnson returned to the senate. William Howard Taft became chief justice. Dwight D. Eisenhower raised cattle. Richard Nixon worked to rehabilitate his reputation. Jimmy Carter remained in public service, doing countless good works.
After leaving office, George W. Bush—happy to be out of the limelight, it seems—began painting.
First, it was portraits of family pets (most notably his dog, Barney) and landscapes, but since then the former president has graduated to portraiture.
In The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy, a new exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Bush displays his portraits of world leaders, most of whom he had the chance to know personally.
One in particular is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with whom Bush was famously chummy.
"I'm proud to have allies like Steve who understand the stakes of the 21st century," Bush said during a joint press conference in 2006.
Although the nickname is not Harper’s preferred nomenclature, the prime minister didn’t seem to mind.
"If a guy buys 85 percent of our exports, and wants to call me Steve, that's okay with me."
Does this era of good feelings still stand now that Bush is out of office? So far, Harper hasn’t commented on the portrait.