Former President George W. Bush has finished clearing all the brush from his 1,600 acre ranch in Crawford, Texas.
During his presidency, Bush often sought refuge at the Prairie Chapel Ranch, considered the Western White House. He was often criticized for spending too much time at his ranch and not enough time attending to domestic problems and world matters. Among his favorite activities were biking and clearing brush.
At the insistence of former first lady Laura Bush, who prefers yoga and socializing to whacking down trees and torching them in solitude, the 43rd president bought a residence in the tony Preston Hollows Dallas neighborhood, where they spend most weekdays. But Bush is still able to spend considerably more time at the ranch than during his presidency.
"Now that he doesn't have to receive multiple daily briefings from the CIA, his chief of staff, economic advisers, etc., he has much more time to engage in activities near and dear to his heart," said a friend. "He's also very hard-working, and sometimes he'll even work right through lunch."
But after eight years of presidency and nearly six months of being an ex-president, there is no brush left to clear. "He just sits around and mopes and it's driving Laura crazy," the friend said. "It's getting so bad that he's started clearing trees that are young and shouldn't be cut down. It looks like those pictures of Brazilian rainforests that have been subject to slash and burn clear cutting."
The former first couple is considering buying another ranch or expanding their ranch by buying the adjoining land of their neighbors.
Bush is not the first ex-president to spend excessive amounts of time on a hobby. Bill Clinton reportedly filled his post-presidency hours by doing thousands of crossword puzzles.
Clinton had long been an avid fan of the New York Times crossword puzzle, even writing them in ink. But after his presidency he had to resort to TV Guide crossword puzzles and even got his aides who flew commercially to collect airline crossword puzzles in order to satiate his appetite for them.
During the filming of Wordplay, a movie about New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Schortz, the director even asked him to leave the set after he kept harassing Shortz to create him another crossword, complaining that "the ones in USA Today are crap."