The former Soviet satellite nation of Albania paid homage to former United States president George W. Bush earlier this month with a statue in his likeness. It was dedicated to Bush on his 65th birthday in the underpopulated village of Fushe Kruje.
The 9.3 foot tall bronze monument to America’s second greatest George Bush-named commander in chief was built to commemorate his role in establishing that nation in the post-communist era. Dubs was in fact the first US president to visit the Eastern European country after it became a free-market democracy in 1991. While introducing the statue in a town square also named after Bush, Prime Minister Sali Berisha declared “Albanians’ pro-Americanism has its roots in our attempts… to build our deserved future as a free nation, as a free country.” Good thing nobody told Bush that Albania has oil. Then again, maybe he prefers the rare symbolic representation of himself that is not burned in effigy.
Bush visited this same town in June 2007 and controversy erupted when video of the president shaking hands with the crowd revealed what appeared to be the theft of his watch. But the White House admitted the then-president slipped his watch into his pocket while soaking in the admiration of the filthy masses. Albania is largely Muslim, but Bush must have feared that Eastern Europe is still teeming with those theiving Gypsies .
Given that most of Albania’s citizens practice Islam, it may seem ironic that they would salute the man who might have invaded a Muslim country or two in his day (Obama is still playing catch-up with his measly one). In light of this, let’s see how the statue has held up over the last few weeks since its unveiling:
Oh my. That didn’t last long.
Most ridiculous of all, Albania’s pro-American fervor is mainly a result of NATO’s 1999 intervention in neighboring Kosovo. Serbian troops were ethnic cleansing Albanians in that country until the US led an effort to stop the bloodshed. The only wrinkle is that the president who spearheaded the initiative was Bill Clinton. It was also during his administration that Albania was saved from its Cold War-era international isolation. Now it is a member of NATO itself and hoping to secure entrance into the European Union.
Clinton was rewarded in 2009 with his own statue in Kosovo. Conveniently, the bronze Bubba is clutching a book. Makes sense: Bill always wants an object handy in case he has to conceal an ill-timed boner.
In spite of these sculptural successes, one particular US president’s statue did not have such a positive response to its display in a Muslim country. Ironically enough, it is America’s very first Muslim President*! In honor of the man who lived in Jakarta from the ages of six through ten, Indonesia commissioned a bronze figure of Barack Obama as a young boy. However, angry protests from locals compelled officials to move the statue from a public park to an elementary school that Obama had once attended. The reasoning behind the outrage was that Indonesians believed a natural-born citizen should be venerated, not a foreigner. Birthers will no doubt object to stateside Obama tributes on the same grounds.
Most heartbreaking of all, Clinton’s statue might not last long either. Reportedly, the 42nd President is rather upset that in its current location his statue isn’t getting the same amount of action as Jimmy Carter’s:
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