There are not enough DC tour guides to tell stories like this, our team strives to share moments like this on a bus tour of Washington DC or private DC walking tour. 

A new documentary shows the length the elder Bush would go for a good ruse. 

President George H.W. Bush celebrates his 88th birthday following the HBO Documentary special screening of “41” in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2012.

By Nikki SchwabJune 12, 2014 | 4:25 p.m. EDT+ More

There’s George H.W. Bush the president, the diplomat, the lawmaker and the sky diver – a title he reclaimed Thursday for his 90th birthday with another jump. But in the new documentary, “41on41,” it’s President Bush the prankster that stands out.

While Bush’s daughter, Doro Bush Koch, makes the proclamation that, “what happens in Kennebunkport stays in Kennebunkport,” grandson Pierce revealed what was probably the most elaborate prank to ever go down on the Maine compound.

[READ: Film Honors George H.W. Bush]

“I’m gonna get some of my cousins in trouble,” Pierce Bush admitted, before explaining that an older cousin had downloaded some dirty photos on the former first lady’s computer.

“So Mrs. Bush discovers some pictures of scantily-clad women on her printer one day,” continued Jean Becker, President Bush’s chief-of-staff. “And she was extremely upset about it and, you know, couldn’t quit talking about it and all hell broke out, needless to say.”

A recreation of the letter President George H.W. Bush sent to his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, as part of an elaborate prank.

Instead of directly sniffing out the grandchild responsible, President Bush decided to punk his wife instead.

“So Grampy, to find the culprit, drafted this scheme where he pretended to be the district attorney in Portland, Maine, and he wrote a letter to my grandmother saying, you know, ‘Dear Mrs. Bush, this is very uncomfortable,’” Pierce Bush began.

“It has come to our attention that you have been using your computer to go on porn websites,” Becker recalled the letter saying, continuing the younger Bush’s story.

The letter was put on dummy stationary. Someone drove to Portland and mailed the letter so that it would have the correct postmark. And when it arrived back at the house, family members made sure Barbara Bush would open it in front of everyone.

“And sure enough, with a bunch of family in the bedroom, she opens the letter and she is beside herself,” Becker said.

When Mary Kate Cary, the executive producer of the documentary and a former Bush speechwriter, first heard the slightly scandalous tale she wasn’t sure if she should use it for the film. For it, she interviewed 41 individuals including Presidents Obama, Bush 43 and Clinton, Roger Ailes, Brit Hume, comedian Dana Carvey and many, many Bushes. But after Pierce Bush’s telling of the prank, four or five others talked to the film crew about it too.

[MARY KATE CARY: Congress Could Learn a Lesson in Bipartisanship From George H.W. Bush]

“So as I heard the story over and over, one of the cameramen said, ‘You know what, I have a nephew who’s dumb enough to do something like that.’ And we all laughed,” Cary said. “So this is a great story because it shows the human side of any family.”

And President Bush thought it was hysterical, when he watched the doc – which will debut on CNN for Father’s Day Sunday night.

“He didn’t mind, he was laughing away and Mrs. Bush, I think Mrs. Bush was not laughing probably when it happened, but she’s laughing about it now,” said Cary, who is also a contributor to U.S. News

As for the kid who’s responsible – that’s still a Bush family secret.

“They all have suspects – they all have a pretty good idea of who did it,” said Cary. “But nobody would tell me on camera.” 

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TAGS: Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barbara movies

  • Nikki Schwab is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow her on Twitteror reach her at