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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 02:30 GMT 03:30 UK
Healthy Bush takes month-long break
President George W Bush waves goodbye as he boards Air Force One to his ranch in Texas
Bush's advisers say this is a working vacation
President George W Bush has begun a one-month holiday in Texas in good health and in good shape.

On Saturday, the president passed his first physical examination since taking office in January with flying colours, after 14 government doctors who checked him for six hours declared him to be in excellent health.

There'll be a decision on stem cells before Congress comes back in September

George W Bush
Before he was declared 100% fit, however, Mr Bush had three sun-induced lesions removed from his face.

By the end of this holiday, Mr Bush will have spent nearly two months of his presidency at his ranch, and an additional 14 weekends at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

This holiday, therefore, has been described by his advisers, who are sensitive to the possibility that the president might be perceived as lazy, as a working vacation - a "Home to the Heartland Tour."

The president has said himself that during this holiday, he will make a decision on whether to approve federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

"There'll be a decision before Congress comes back [in September]," he told reporters.

Top marks

Results of Mr Bush's medical tests showed that the 55-year-old president, an avid jogger, was in the top two percentile of men his age for cardiovascular fitness.

Mr Bush gave up drinking 15 years ago and he does not smoke, although he occasionally indulges in a cigar.

I feel pretty good. I think you'll find I'm in pretty good shape

George W Bush
"The president is in outstanding health and is fit for duty," the doctors said in a written statement released on the presidential plane, Air Force One, before it left Andrews Air Force base for Texas.

"All data suggest he will remain so for the duration of his presidency," the report said.

"I feel pretty good. I think you'll find I'm in pretty good shape," the president told reporters after his check-up at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Mr and Mrs Bush are taking their holiday at their 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas.

They plan to make several outings during their stay, to the states of Colorado, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

The BBC's Tom Carver
"Washington's turning out the lights for August"
See also:

29 Jun 01 | Americas
Cheney: Bush's elder statesman
30 Apr 01 | Americas
Who runs the Bush White House?
05 Mar 01 | Americas
Bush cabinet profiles
22 Nov 00 | Americas
Cheney suffers 'slight heart attack'
23 Jun 00 | G-I
Treatments - operations
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