Bush Says He Is "Plenty Smart

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Republican presidential hopeful George W Bush says "America understands that a guy doesn't know the name of every single foreign leader," a reference to his inability to name the leaders of Chechnya, India, and Pakistan in a recent TV interview with a Boston reporter. Bush did name the leader of Taiwan - one of the four leaders he was asked to identify in what's become known as Bush's "pop quiz."

The interview has set off a debate over the validity of the reporter's question (an unfair ambush, many say), and whether it has damaged Bush's candidacy. "I don't really mind people picking on me," Bush said in a Time magazine interview released Sunday. "I know what I can do," he said. "I've never held myself out to be any great genius, but I'm plenty smart. And I've got good common sense and good instincts. And that's what people want in their leader."

Regardless of what American voters think, comedians love this sort of misstep, and they're expected to milk Bush's embarrassment for as long as they can. A cartoon in the Atlanta Constitution portrayed Bush as president, addressing the nation from the White House: "My fellow Americans," he is saying, "the bombing of the L-shaped country will continue, until its leader, what's-his-face with the mustache, agrees to something ..."

This isn't the first time Bush has fallen short on foreign policy questions. Earlier in his presidential campaign, he mixed up the European countries of Slovakia and Slovenia and he referred to the Greeks as "Grecians," the Kosovars as "Kosovarians," and the East Timorese as "East Timorians."

Some observers say the worst thing about Bush's inability to name the leaders of four of the world's hot spots isn't that he couldn't name them - but that he was videotaped in the process of not being able to name them. Some say that video clip could come back to haunt Bush, in the campaign ads of his political rivals.