Former President George W. Bush is now on the lecture circuit as a motivational speaker -- and he has a message for America's unemployed: The marketplace is "fair."
Speaking in Forth Worth, Texas in his debut as a motivational speaker, Bush's speech echoed some of his themes as president. But his comments on the economy are sure to rankle the millions of Americans who've been laid off.
“The marketplace works," Bush remarked. "It is fair. It is equitable. It is a fair form of democracy.”
Bush addressed a crowd of 11,000 who paid for a verbal injection of enthusiasm from the former president.
“Every single day I was honored to be your president by bringing honor and dignity to the office,” a local newspaper quoted Bush as saying during the day-long "Get Motivated" seminar.
His message to those whose decisions have made them unpopular?
“It’s so simple in life to chase popularity, but popularity is fleeting," Bush quipped. "It’s not real."
Bush also sought to mollify critics who've argued that politics played too much of a role in his decisionmaking in going to war, saying he'd never sell out "their loved ones for the sake of pure politics."
"And let me tell you," he added. "I never did.”
Also in the crowd was Bush's first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who praised the president's legacy, positing that Bush had kept America safe after 9/11.
Bush also highlighted his faith in God as contributing to the success of his presidency.
"I don't see how you can be president without relying on the Almighty," the ex-president declared. "Now when I was 21, I wouldn't have told you that, but at age 63, I can tell you that one of the most amazing surprises of the presidency was the fact that people's prayers affected me. I can't prove it to you. But I can tell you some days were great, some days not so great. But every day was joyous."
The Washington Post, who had a reporter at the event, said Bush looked "younger than his 63 years and relaxed."
"Many people interviewed afterward said they liked Bush, perhaps even because he wasn't the best speaker of the day," the Post reported added. "He could have said a thesaurus was a big scaly creature that roamed the planet millions of years ago and they would have applauded."