So, Why is this man laughing?
Karl Rove just may hold the key to George Bush's re-election bid
"A complete nerd." ^ Rove also has some surprises for the final weeks of the campaign. One is an interview Bush has taped with television counselor Phil McGraw, known as "Dr. Phil," on parenting. The relationship adviser is popular with female viewers, who could make the difference in several swing states, and the interview shows the president as a caring, sensitive father.
For his part, Bush enjoys playfully needling his counselor. His nicknames for Rove have included "Boy Genius," which the middle-aged Rove has outgrown, and "Turd Blossom," Texas slang for a flower that blooms in cowpies.
Born in Colorado on Christmas 1950, Rove moved with his family to various small towns in the West, such as Sparks, Nev.; Holladay, Utah; and Golden, Colo. His father was an oil company geologist.
Young Karl read widely, and in high school, he was, he admits, "a complete nerd" who wore a crewcut and a plastic pocket protector. But he developed an interest in conservatism, a rarity for young people amid the era's massive anti-Vietnam War protests. Friends trace his political interest to a college professor who required his students to participate in a campaign for a political science course. Rove was hooked. While still in college in Utah, Rove got to know Lee Atwater, a rising young conservative who eventually became the chief political adviser for George Herbert Walker Bush, the current president's father. Rove then dropped out of college to become a full-time Republican operative. In 1973, Rove became chairman of the College Republican National Committee with the help of Atwater, a South Carolinian who served as his southern coordinator. By the end of the 1970s, Rove had settled in Texas, where he saw the potential for remaking the state into the sort of Republican powerhouse it is today. He became an expert in direct mail and, emulating Atwater, attack politics.
Rove got to know George W. Bush in the course of helping Bush's father in Houston as he prepared for the 1980 presidential campaign. Rove ran Dubya's successful campaign for governor of Texas in 1994, and he has been Bush's chief political adviser ever since.
"Eggies." They remain an odd couple. Bush is the son of a family of privilege, of parents who gave him stability, while Rove, as the son of a geologist, was constantly on the move. The marriage of Bush's parents and his own union with Laura have lasted many years, while Rove's parents divorced, and his mother eventually committed suicide. Rove was divorced two decades ago. He married his current wife, Darby, in 1986, and they have a teenage son, Andrew. Bush has degrees from Yale and Harvard Business School; Rove attended three different universities and never graduated.
Yet Bush and Rove share a mutual irreverence, a deep conservatism, a belief in the individual and in America's moral superiority, a disdain for northeastern elitists, and a revulsion against the if-it-feels-good, do-it liberalism of the '60s and '70s. Rove consumes two or three books a week, mostly political science and history. He is currently reading Larry D. Kramer's The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review. He goes quail hunting in Texas two or three times annually. And he loves to cook, specializing in a breakfast of what he calls "eggies" --concoctions of eggs scrambled with cream, butter, and bacon grease--for his weekend political meetings at home. He bakes his own apple, berry, and other fruit pies from scratch, rolling the low-sugar dough himself. And he grills steak dinners for family and friends. "But politics is Karl's profession and his hobby," says a Republican strategist who knows him well.