Speed Reads

a bipartisan bond

George W. Bush explains his unlikely friendship with Michelle Obama

It started with a little good-natured ribbing, and blossomed into a real friendship.

Like his father before him, former President George W. Bush became close to the person who occupied the White House after his presidency — although unlike his father, who became friends with former President Bill Clinton, Bush 43 has formed a bond with former first lady Michelle Obama. "She kind of likes my sense of humor," he told People. "Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like."

Bush is making the rounds publicizing his new book and an art exhibit featuring his paintings of veterans, and he opened up about how he became friendly with Obama after sitting next to her at several official events. He said he made "a few wisecracks and she seemed to like it okay. I needle her a bit and around her, I'm fairly lighthearted." The Obamas were "around serious people all the time," he added, "and we just took to each other."

At the opening last year of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Bush and Obama were photographed hugging, and it was "a genuine expression of affection," Bush said. Along with his wife, Laura, he hopes to work with the Obamas to get veterans health and career assistance as they transition back to civilian life. "It's going to take them a while to find their footing and figure out how they're going to do what they want to do," he said. "But if there's a way to be symbiotic, we'll do so."