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Live from New York: It's Laura Bush!

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Video courtesy Today
Tuesday brought a round of firsts for first lady Laura Bush – including her launch as a first-time author, her providing the first public tour of the family’s Texas ranch, and her initial stint as a network morning-show host.

“And welcome back to another hour of Today,” Mrs. Bush said live from Studio A in New York’s Rockefeller Center. “A beautiful crowd here in our plaza in midtown Manhattan. I’m Laura Bush, and I’ll be your guest host today, Tuesday, April 22, 2008.”

“That’s something you don’t hear every day,” quipped the show’s co-anchor Matt Lauer – as the guest host’s daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush, observed their mother from the show’s in-studio news desk.

“Very good job,” critiqued Jenna.

Earlier in the broadcast – which Mrs. Bush said her husband was likely TiVo-ing – mother and daughter Jenna touted their collaborative effort, the newly published children’s book Read All About It!. The illustrated volume encourages youngsters to read – and features a teacher that bears a remarkable physical resemblance to former librarian Mrs. Bush, prompting Jenna to confirm that “in some ways, yes,” the character was modeled after mom.

The show’s Ann Curry also commented that with the couple’s May 10 wedding coming up very shortly, Jenna’s finacé Henry Hager was so “calm and good-looking.” “Well,” replied his soon-to-be mother-in-law, “he was an Eagle Scout.” Jenna called her intended “fantastic and smart.”

As for why she chose the family’s Crawford ranch over a White House wedding, Jenna said, “I’m not that glamorous. I’m more an outdoors type.” Mrs. Bush says the hope is that the wildflowers will be in bloom on the big day.

Recipes and Recreation

When it came to Mrs. Bush’s big job, as co-host, she helped participate in segments devoted to twins (see video clip), the tour of the Crawford house and its eco-friendly design, recipes for New Orleans po’ boy sandwiches and author R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps books. “I’ve been a fan for years,” Mrs. Bush said of the children’s scary series.

Among the revelations during the hour is that, like her daughter, Mrs. Bush prefers to be outside, which she admitted is sometimes a drawback to living in the confines of the White House.

Still, she confided, this spring she did don dark glasses and twice sneak out with friends to walk among the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. – surprised and relieved that passers by didn’t really recognize her.