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    New York – President George W. Bush has been named TIME magazine’s 2004 Person of the Year.

    “For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters this time around that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, we name George W. Bush as TIME’s Person of the Year for 2004,” writes managing editor Jim Kelly in a letter to readers.

    Bush has “had his highs and lows, with approval ratings at one point hitting 90% and then sinking to 46% as the war in Iraq kept claiming American lives. Even some of his strongest supporters never considered him the odds-on favorite to win a second term. But in the end, George W. Bush prevailed,” Kelly writes.

    TIME’s double issue on newsstands for two weeks beginning Monday, Dec. 20th.

    Oval Office Interview: In an interview with TIME’s Matt Cooper, John Dickerson and Nancy Gibbs in the oval office, Bush says he thinks “More highly” of all his White House predecessors. He says, “I’ve got a much better appreciation of what they’ve been through, some more than others. My appreciation for Lincoln has grown immeasurably. He is a President who was a visionary for the good of the country. I’ve got his painting right there. And he’s there because he had this great vision about a United States of America in incredibly difficult times.”

    Bush tells TIME, “Baseball now must get its act cleaned up (in regards to steroids). And they’ve heard a warning signal from Senator John McCain that said, “Clean it up in a meaningful way, or we will.” My hope is that they do. But I will sign legislation if McCain can get it to my desk.” The full interview transcript is available on TIME.com.

    Interview with Former President and First Lady: “Michael Moore’s got to be the worst for me,” former President George H.W. Bush tells TIME’s Hugh Sidey when asked about the low point of this last term. “I mean, he’s such a slimeball and so atrocious. But I love the fact now that the Democrats are not embracing him as theirs anymore. He might not get invited to sit in Jimmy Carter’s box (at the Democratic Convention) again. I wanted to get up my nerve to ask Jimmy Carter at the Clinton thing (the opening of Bill Clinton’s library), ‘How did it feel being there with that marvelous friend of yours, Michael Moore?’ and I didn’t dare do it.” See separate press release.

    The Bush Dynasty: TIME’s Matt Cooper examines how the Bush family has endured and who’s next in line.

    The Strategist: Karl Rove: TIME profiles Bush adviser Karl Rove who talks about his relationship with his boss and discusses his own mother’s suicide in 1981. He tells TIME’s Karen Tumulty, “It’s hard to figure out. You can speculate on what demons she just wasn’t able to overcome, but she couldn’t. And it’s very sad for my sisters, who were very close to her.” Rove recalls that Bush “was a certain way in 1988, and he was significantly different by 1990, 1992, 1994. I think it’s his own life experience, waking up and saying ‘I’m not going to drink because it saps my energy and drains my focus.’ I think it’s the freedom of being, ironically, his own self in the aftermath of his father’s defeat in ’92. I don’t know. You could psychoanalyze it. Clearly, he’s always had incredible abilities, (but) he had a stronger focus and a discipline. He brought all of his many talents to bear after he went through—I suspect like all of us do—something that changed his center of life,” Rove tells TIME. See separate press release.

    TIME Poll: In the first TIME Poll since November’s election, just under half of Americans (49%) approve of President George W. Bush’s performance, about the same as before the election. Bush’s election victory also has not brightened the nation’s outlook, according to the latest poll numbers. Half of Americans (50%) still think that the country is headed in the wrong direction, not much changed since the pre-election period. Only 40% see the country on the right track. See separate press release.

    JOE KLEIN: The Benetton-Ad Presidency: In his column, TIME’s Joe Klein writes, “In a way, President Bush is the beneficiary of 40 years of Democratic policy—not just affirmative action, which helped create a broader, deeper pool of successful nonwhite college graduates, but also the Democratic Party’s historic support for civil rights legislation, the feminist revolution and the easing of strict immigration policies in the 1960s, policies long opposed by many Republicans. But the Bush Cabinets have also been very much a reflection of who George W. Bush is and always has been.” See separate press release.

    The Filmakers: Mel Gibson and Michael Moore: While former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says that the ongoing struggle for the definition of America can be described as “Michael Moore vs. Mel Gibson.” It isn’t quite that simple, of course, writes TIME’s Richard Lacayo. Just ask Moore, who says that his film, too, resonates with Christ’s message. The Passion of the Christ emphasized Christ’s final hours and, for the most part, left out scenes of his ministry. “But my film dovetails with the rest of Jesus’ life,” Moore told TIME last week. “It connects to his message about questioning those in authority, of being a man of peace, of loving your neighbor.”

    Power Line Named Blog of the Year: TIME also names Power Line its Blog of the Year. “Before this year, blogs were a curiosity, a cult phenomenon, a faintly embarrassing hobby on the order of ham radio and stamp collecting. But in 2004, blogs unexpectedly vaulted into the pantheon of major media, alongside TV, radio and, yes, magazines, and it was Power Line, more than any other blog, that got them there,” writes TIME’s Lev Grossman. See separate press release.

    Power Line is the brainchild of two Minneapolis-based lawyers John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson and Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Paul Mirengoff. “My view,” Johnson says, “is that the mainstream media has acted as a means to obscure, as a kind of filter, a lens that makes it impossible to understand what’s going on in reality. We try to provide something that brings people closer to reality,” he tells TIME.

    The Insurgent: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: TIME’s Romesh Ratnest looks at how Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi transformed the Iraq insurgency into a holy war and became the world’s most dangerous man.

    TIME’s extensive Person of the Year package also includes a six-page photo act of exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of Bush visiting wounded soldiers at Bethesda Naval Hospital last week, a roundtable of presidential historians commenting on Bush’s presidency, and a closing essay by TIME contributor Andrew Sullivan. The Bethesda Naval Hospital photos were taken by Christopher Morris. TIME’s cover illustration is by Daniel Adel.

    People Who Mattered: TIME’s ‘People Who Mattered’ package includes exclusive photos of Nancy and Ron Reagan, Jr. in the first photo published of them together since the former president’s death and behind-the-scenes photos of Senator John Kerry and Apple CEO Steve Jobs by TIME’s Diana Walker.

    Media Contact: Ty Trippet, 212-522-3640