President Bush likes his books and his bike.
The leader of the free world was recently quoted as saying he likes to burn at least 1,000 calories during his daily workout. And he has a reading race going with former adviser Karl Rove to see who can log the most books in a year.
Rove told Rush Limbaugh that when Bush fell behind, 110 to 94, the president said it was because he was busy being the leader of the free world.
My question is this: How does the leader of the free world have time for daily two-hour workouts and to read 100 books?
Iraq is a mess, China holds all our paper, North Korea and Iran are having their own nuclear arms race and the U.S. economy is fading fast.
And the leader of the free world has more time on his hands than a society matron.
I can't find the time to pick up the dry cleaning, and my president is polishing off two books a week. Speed-reading queen Evelyn Wood would be impressed. I am worried.
I'm lucky if I can get to the gym twice a week, and the man in charge won't settle for burning less than 1,000 calories per workout, six days a week.
He wears one of those heart monitors that lets him know when he hits his targets. I have one, too. My son gave it to me for Christmas. If I wanted to burn up that many calories, I'd have to have my mail delivered to the gym.
Another worrisome thought: When he rides his bike, Bush loves to plug into his iPod, turn up the volume and leave his Secret Service pedalers in the dust.
Bush says he is at his best after a vigorous workout, and he believes in keeping balance in his life. He is probably the fittest president in our history, with a body mass index in the teens, a resting heart-rate in the Lance Armstrong range and a 10 p.m. bedtime.
That's all good news. We'd all be better off if we followed his example.
But I'd like to think the guy was putting in a full day at the Oval Office, if you know what I mean. I need to believe that being president is a lot of work, and that hobbies are what you do when you leave office - like President Dwight D. Eisenhower and golf.
And author Robert Draper, in his new book Dead Certain, revealed President Bush's 1,000- calorie workout goal and reported that he was so "gassed" after a mountain bike ride that he didn't ask a single question at a briefing about the approaching Hurricane Katrina.
See why I am worried?
I like my presidents serious and careworn, scholarly and with a complex intellect. Not seeing how many cheesy crime thrillers he and a buddy can chew through in a month. (Rove admitted to Limbaugh that he and Bush had sacrificed quality for speed in the book race.)
And I am not made more confident by the fact that my president has such a fearless temperament that he loves crashing down hillsides at breakneck speed. And I do mean breakneck. He took a nasty spill in Scotland.
"I like speed," he told reporters during a group ride at his ranch this summer, bragging that he once topped 32 mph down a hill at Camp David. (If you know mountain biking, you know that's fast.)
We are one broken bike chain away from a Dick Cheney presidency.
I understand that in the age of celebrity journalism, we cannot know too many details about the private lives of the rich and famous. And that goes for the first family, too.
But I'd sleep much better if I had a picture of President Bush in my head that resembled the famous picture of John F. Kennedy, alone, contemplative and leaning on his desk in the Oval Office, as if bent by the burdens of his job.
Not yahooing it down a mountainside with country music blasting in his ears.