- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

CRAWFORD, Texas President Bush returned to his beloved ranch here yesterday for his first extended vacation since the September 11 terrorist attacks, although he planned to spend at least part of his 12-day break visiting other parts of the country.
After celebrating Christmas at Camp David, Mr. Bush made a beeline for his rustic, 1,600-acre spread near Waco to relax with family and friends and prepare for 2002, which he had said would be a "war year."
Although he was expected to keep a low profile this week, the president might visit the West Coast next week before returning to the White House Jan. 6.
Mr. Bush carried one of his dogs, Barney, under his arm while walking the other, Spot, on a leash as he disembarked Air Force One with first lady Laura Bush and her mother, Jenna Welch.
They were accompanied by White House Counselor Karen Hughes, who headed to Austin with family members as her boss was driven to his ranch.
Before the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Mr. Bush had spent almost two months of his presidency at the Crawford ranch, including four weeks in August, during which he gave a nationally televised speech announcing his decision to partially fund some human stem-cell research.
Since then, he has been to the so-called "Western White House" just once, but not for a vacation. Mr. Bush played genial host to Vladimir Putin during the Russian president's visit to the United States.
Mr. Bush has said that visiting the ranch is therapeutic, a place where he is in his element and where "I can recharge my batteries."
Meanwhile yesterday, Mr. Bush's wartime standing reached historic proportions with the release of a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll of the most-admired living Americans.
In that poll, Mr. Bush was named by 39 percent of those surveyed, a record in the 53-year history of the poll.
The previous record had been 32 percent, which President Kennedy garnered in 1961.
Mr. Bush far outdistanced the field, with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell coming in second place with 5 percent of the vote, conducted Dec. 14-16 among 1,019 adults. New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani placed third in the poll with 4 percent, and Pope John Paul II was fourth with 3 percent.
Frank Newport, Gallup editor in chief, told USA Today that the president usually wins the survey, but called Mr. Bush's high marks "unusual."
Last year, President Clinton and the pope tied for first with 6 percent of poll respondents choosing each man.

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