(CORRECTION AT BOTTOM)
WASHINGTON — As former President George W. Bush's helicopter whisked him from the Capitol over the 2 million people on the National Mall to Andrews Air Force Base, parts of the crowd burst into a riff of "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye," a song usually reserved for losing sports teams.
Bush left the presidency with the lowest approval rating of any president except Richard Nixon, according to a new New York Times/CBS poll, which put Bush's final rating at 22 percent.
Bush nonetheless seemed relaxed during Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony. On his last day as president, he had a typical morning at the White House, according to departing White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. He spoke with outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other aides, then took a walk around the White House grounds.
"He's the president of the United States, the way he always is," Perino said. "He hasn't changed. He gave me a big kiss on the forehead."
Bush kept with presidential tradition, leaving new President Barack Obama a personal letter in the drawer of the desk in the Oval Office.
Bush was accompanied on his last day by first lady Laura Bush, by his parents, former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, daughters Barbara and Jenna and son-in-law Henry Hager.
The family members were part of the former president's entourage to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to board what had been Air Force One — now designated Special Air Mission 28000 — as he returned home to Texas, stopping first at a welcome celebration in Midland and then on to Waco and his nearby Crawford ranch.
The Bush team on board was a who's who of his former closest aides: Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Dan Bartlett, Joe Allbaugh and Ed Gillespie. Longtime Texas friends Don Evans, who was commerce secretary in Bush's first term; Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general who left under a cloud; Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel who withdrew as a Supreme Court nominee; and Tom Schieffer, Bush's former partner in the Texas Rangers, who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan and, earlier, to Australia.
The Bushes will live primarily in a new home in Dallas, near the future Bush presidential library, and also will spend time at the ranch, according to Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, a longtime friend who worked for Bush in the energy business and also was on the plane Tuesday.
CORRECTION: A story on President George W. Bush’s last hours in office incorrectly said that Bush left the presidency with the lowest approval rating of any president except Richard Nixon. In fact, Bush’s final approval rating of 22 percent was the lowest final rating for an outgoing president since polling on the topic began more than 70 years ago.
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