George W. Bush (1946–) was the forty-third president of the United States. Bush’s two-term presidency was marked by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent American wars in the Middle East. The oldest son of former President George H. W. Bush, George W. served in the Texas Air National Guard and worked in the Texas oil industry before entering politics. He was elected as the Republican governor of Texas in 1994 and won reelection in 1998. In 2000, he ran for the presidency against Democratic nominee Al Gore. Though Gore won more popular votes than Bush, Bush won the 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266. Gore disputed the Florida election results, and the matter was eventually settled by a split Supreme Court ruling. In December 2000, more than a month after the election, Bush was declared the winner.

Just nine months into his presidency, Bush faced one of the most serious and devastating crises in American history: the September 11 terrorist attacks. Bush’s handling of the attacks earned him overwhelming public approval. The Bush administration passed the controversial USA PATRIOT Act of October 2001, invaded Afghanistan to track down Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and gained support for the invasion of Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003. Though the war accomplished the capture of Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration faced criticism when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Serious questions on the use of intelligence estimates were raised in Congressional hearings.

The Bush administration faced criticism as public opinion largely turned against the wars in the Middle East. Bush was re-elected over Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004, despite anti-war sentiment and scrutiny related to the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. Though Bush had found great support for his early handling of terrorism and war, his presidency proved to be a time of polarization in American politics. His presidency ended in the midst of the financial crisis of 2008. Bush returned to Texas after leaving office in 2009. Since then, he has declined to participate in politcal events.

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