Since George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign, journalists have been trying to verify reports that the president was once arrested on a cocaine posession charge. Now, for the first time, court records obtained by Radar may be able to shed some light on the mystery. Filed in 1986, the same year that the president claims to have given up drinking, the documents clearly show that a George W. Bush Jr. was convicted in a Midland, Texas court on a vague “unlawful practice of medicine” charge. Only thing is, it appears to be the wrong George W. Bush. Although they were born mere months apart, lived in the same town (the president grew up in Midland), and both have blue eyes and similar builds, only one was slapped with a $2000 fine and a year’s probation. The other became leader of the free world.
The arrest story stems from Texas journalist J.H. Hatfield’s much-maligned 1999 book Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. Hatfield, who committed suicide a year after his book was published, alleged that Bush was once arrested for drug possession in Texas but persuaded the judge to expunge his record by volunteering for an inner-city outreach program. It was rumored that the architect of the deal was legendary Texas lawyer Warren Burnett, who added further intrigue by cagily refusing to answer definitively whether or not he had represented George W. Bush. (The president has always vehemently denied the drug claim and a White House spokeperson did not return calls by press time.) Perhaps reporters should have specified which Bush they were talking about: The court documents list Burnett as George W. Bush Jr.’s lawyer in the 1986 arrest. Unfortunately, Burnett, who died in 2002, was unavailable to comment on his bizarro client.