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Bush's Jesus joke: 'Santa, thanks for coming'

An the annual lighting of the National Christmas tree last night, President Bush made a remark alluding to Jesus Christ, which some feel compared Him with Santa Claus.

Flanked by the first lady, as well as members of Congress and the Cabinet, Bush told the public, “The lighting of the National Christmas tree is one of the great traditions in our nation’s capital. Each year, we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy – and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity. Santa, thanks for coming. Glad you made it.”

While alluding to Jesus, President Bush thanked Santa Claus for coming to National Christmas tree lighting a White House last night (White House photo by Paul Morse)

The remark received a few chuckles from those in attendance, as Bush continued to speak to a Santa Claus figure, stating, “I know you’ve got a lot of commitments this time of year. By the way, we have a lot of chimneys at the White House if you’re looking for something to do.”

While never saying Jesus by name, Bush did make a mention of God when he quoted President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 Christmas Eve address to the nation, when FDR said, “Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love, and in God’s care for us and all men everywhere.”

Bush added: “We ask for God to watch over our men and women in uniform who are serving overseas.”

(Video and text of President Bush’s remarks at the tree lighting are available here.)

In the ongoing national debate over the this month’s federal holiday, first lady Laura Bush went on the record on Wednesday by calling the giant evergreen inside the White House a “Christmas tree.”

The first lady was asked by a member of the media, “Mrs. Bush – on holiday tree versus Christmas tree? You have no problem calling this a Christmas tree?”

“Well, no, not really,” Mrs. Bush responded. “At this season, we know that Americans celebrate the season in a lot of different ways. We’ll have a Hanukkah party, Hanukkah reception here at the White House later during the month. But I think we’ve always called this the White House Christmas tree.”

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