Bush’s Foreign Exchange

When George W. Bush took office, 1,700 of his campaign contributors reportedly lined up for nominations as ambassadors. Bush has since awarded diplomatic posts to 24 Pioneers and Rangers– supporters who have helped his 2000 and 2004 campaigns by bundling contributions of at least $100,000 or $200,000, respectively. (Five of them, like Bush, happen to have been baseball team owners. See “Bush’s Baseball Ambassadors”, July/August 2004)

A 1980 federal law requires that campaign contributions “should not be a factor” in naming ambassadors. It also specifies that nominees should be able to speak the local language. By this standard, the credentials of Bush’s donors-turned-diplomats are particularly sparse. For instance, consider that our man in France — a country we’ve had our share of diplomatic tussles with lately — doesn’t speak French. Now, more of George W. Bush’s world-class ambassadors. — Benjamin Leslie

Mauritius. 2002 – present.


Skipped Mauritius’ presidential inauguration, prompting the country’s largest paper to call for his resignation. Also recently fined $8.1 million by Utah Supreme Court for cheating his business partners.

Ireland. 2001 – 2002.


Made a soft money contribution of $250,000 to the GOP in the summer of 2000, and was soon on his way to Dublin.


The billionaire former CEO of Lynch Capital didn’t speak any French when he was posted to Paris. He reportedly has been taking lessons, though.

Netherlands. 2001 – present.


Dutch-deficient Ambassador Sobel says he loves the Netherlands because “everybody speaks English.”

Portugal. 2001 – present.


Big supporter of Bush 41. Speaks no Portuguese.

Norway. 2001 – present.


Fined $15,000 by the Federal Election Commission for illegal fundraising in 1997 and 1999. Doesn’t speak Norwegian.

Jamaica. 2001 – present.


Married to Charles Cobb, who was appointed ambassador to Iceland after donating over $100,000 to George Bush Sr.

Austria. 2001 – present.


The former CEO of Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort, does speak German. Prost!

Hungary. 2001 – 2003.


Prior to posting, this Dallas socialite had no Eastern European experience.

Slovak Republic. 2001 – present.


Was the 2000 Bush campaign’s Michigan finance chair. Doesn’t speak Slovakian.

Uruguay. 2001 – present.


Buddies with homeland security chief Tom Ridge. Self-described as “professionally competent” in Spanish.

Malta. 2001 – present.


AKA “The Pasta Magnate.” Fortunately, Malta is English-speaking.

Belize. 2001 – present.


This North Dakota lawyer’s brother was a major investor in Bush’s business dealings. Speaks Belize’s official language — English.

Saudi Arabia. 2001 – 2003.


Represented Bush during SEC inquiries into possible insider trading in 1990. Also a law partner of Bush family consigliere and House of Saud pal James Baker.


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