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White House video shows Blair has gone to the dogs

By David Usborne in New York

Just when you thought you couldn't stand to watch another second of this year's Christmas video from the George Bush White House starring, as usual, his Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, the directors throw in a surprise celebrity guest. Three Kings alive, it's Tony Blair!

It is not clear whether the Blair cameo will be enough to ensure consideration of the six-minute film by the Oscar judges this year. A Golden Boneo nomination would probably be more fitting. Other leading cast members with doubtful acting abilities include the First Lady Laura and the Bush twins Jenna and Barbara.

For six years, Americans have been treated to new instalments of the Yuletide adventures of the two black pups as they scamper about the White House at tree-trimming time. This year there is an additional theme: the National Parks and Mr Bush's $1bn (£500m) plan to spruce them up.

"Hey Barney, I love the outdoors and there is nothing greater than our national parks," a thoroughly awkward President Bush declares in an early scene, informing us all that indeed the White House grounds are themselves a park. Cue Barney with expression of unbridled enthusiasm. You can tell he wants to be involved. "Sure Barney, you and Miss Beazley can be junior park rangers if you want to."

So the storyline is set. The pooches meet the Interior Secretary, who is in charge of the parks, and pop along to the appropriate office to apply for the job. They get encouragement along the way from the twins too, who do a lot of nervous stroking while on camera. (Their own hair that is, rather than the pets'.)

That Tony should suddenly show up almost propels us into Buddy Movie territory. Of course, he had to be given a part after all he had done for George over the years. And there is just the faint possibility that appearing on the screen with the terriers will erase from our memories all those "Bush's Poodle" jokes.

By then, the title of junior ranger has been conferred on both dogs and they are wearing specially tailored khaki vests to prove it. It falls upon the former British Prime Minister to congratulate them first.

"Well done," Mr Blair offers, staring down into a lens that somehow makes his ears expand alarmingly and his teeth glow brighter than tinsel. "As someone born in Edinburgh, Scotland, it's always good to see the Scots doing well."

An alumnus of The Simpsons – you may remember him in an episode in 2003 when Homer and Marge made a trip to London – Mr Blair is used to the hoopla of movie stardom. All right, so this one may not get an opening on Leicester Square. It won't even make the cinemas in the US.

But you can catch it right now online by clicking on the link below. And remember, it's worth getting to the end.

To watch the video visit:

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