Though he's been there for eight long years
And most of them spent prone,
He never left his Texas ranch
But left his brain at home. …
"How," he wondered "did we get here?"
This was at the "The buck stops here." meeting, in the middle of September 2008.
The story of how we got here is partly one of Mr. Bush's own making.
Bush chose to oversee them — an old prep school buddy who pronounced the companies sound as they headed toward insolvency.
Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming.
"No one wanted to stop that bubble," Mr. Lindsay said. "It would have conflicted with the president's own policies."
Fox News asked Mr. Bush if he was worried about being the Herbert Hoover of the 21st century.
"No," Mr. Bush replied. "I will be known as somebody who saw a problem and put the chips on the table to prevent the economy from collapsing."
This is FOX News?
Bush's banking regulators brandished a chain saw over a 9,000-page pile of regulations. States tried to use consumer protection laws to crack down on predatory lending, the comptroller of the currency blocked the effort, asserting that states had no authority over national banks.
North Carolina's attorney general, said, "They took 50 sheriffs off the beat at a time when lending was becoming the Wild West."
The president did push rules aimed at forcing lenders to more clearly explain loan terms. But the White House shelved them in 2004, after industry-friendly members of Congress threatened to block confirmation of his new housing secretary.
In the 2004 election cycle, mortgage bankers and brokers poured nearly $847,000 into Mr. Bush's re-election campaign, more than triple their contributions in 2000.
Among the Republican Party's top 10 donors in 2004 was Roland Arnall.
He founded Ameriquest, the nation's largest lender in the subprime market.
In July 2005, the company agreed to set aside $325 million to settle allegations in 30 states that it had preyed on borrowers with hidden fees and ballooning payments.
When Bush and his team met after the failure of Lehman Brothers and the emergency rescue of A.I.G., Mr. Paulson warned of economic calamity. Paulson spelled out a $700 billion plan.
"Is that enough?" Mr. Bush asked.
He said, "I don't think we can get more."
So that explains why the Detroit losers got a smaller cut -and where it had to come from.
Cheney played a leading role in economic policy, though housing was not a primary interest. Like Bush, he had a deep aversion to government intervention. Nonetheless, he backed the bailout.
Bush typically darts out of such meetings quickly. But this time, he lingered, patting people on the back and trying to soothe his downcast staff. "During times of adversity, he ucks everybody up," Mr. Paulson said.
It was not the end of the failures or government interventions; the administration stepped in to rescue Citigroup and the Detroit automakers.
With 31 days left in office, he will leave it to historians to analyze "what went right and what went wrong,. This isn't one of the presidencies where you ride off into the sunset waving goodbye."
That would depend how you define waving.