"You don't have to worry about this economy, because I am in charge of it," said Mr. Bush, touching off what some observers were calling a global financial panic.
Bush began his remarks about the economy at 10:30 am Eastern time, and by 10:31 markets around the world had already gone into a perilous freefall. According to Wall Street insiders, the markets were responding to the news that Bush was still president.
"Over the last few weeks, the markets have absorbed the news of the subprime crisis, the housing meltdown, and the Bear Stearns failure," said Logan Teasdale of Citigroup. "But the news that President Bush is still president was too much for the markets to shrug off." Over the past few months, Mr. Teasdale said, traders have tried hard to forget that Bush was still president, but his White House remarks today were "a painful reminder."
At the Federal Reserve, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke huddled with central bankers to find a way to calm the markets rattled by Bush's alarming appearance. One solution reportedly being pondered by the Fed would involve sending Bush to Disney World for the remainder of his time in office.
Elsewhere, in his first comment on the Eliot Spitzer scandal, Vice President Dick Cheney said he has never hired a prostitute because "I've been screwing the country the last seven years."