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Dazed Bush forgets what country he's in, what summit he's at
David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Friday September 7, 2007


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President Bush's trademark struggles with the finer points of public speaking were on full display Friday, when he thanked his "Austrian" hosts for inviting him to this year's "OPEC" summit.

The "Language Mangler-in-Chief" was in Australia attending the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit. Along with misidentifying his host country and the name of the summit, Bush struggled to leave the lectern, trying to exit the stage the wrong way.

"Thank you for being such a fine host of the OPEC summit," Bush said to Australian prime minister John Howard. He quickly corrected himself, "APEC summit," and joked Howard "invited me to the OPEC summit next year. (Such an invitation would be impossible because neither the US or Australia are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.)

Later in the speech, Bush can clearly be heard on tape thanking Howard for visiting "Austrian troops" in Iraq last year, but White House scrubbers fixed that gaffe for him, changing the official government transcript to "Australian," the Associated Press reported.

As Reuters notes, "There are, in fact, no Austrian troops there. But Australia has about 1,500 Australian military personnel in and around" Iraq.

Bush's struggles from the lectern didn't end when he stopped talking either. Press reports indicate he tried to leave the stage through the wrong door, and the Australian prime minister had to point him toward the proper exit, according to the Herald Sun newspaper.

The scene was reminiscent of a 2005 Bush appearance in Beijing, when Bush was thwarted by a locked door after stepping off stage and had to be redirected.

The following video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast on September 7.