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No winner yet in 'Doonesbury' Bush search

Bush during his time in the Texas Air National Guard
Bush during his time in the Texas Air National Guard

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A $10,000 reward offered by the "Doonesbury" comic strip for proof that U.S. President George W. Bush served in the Alabama National Guard during the Vietnam War has elicited over 1,300 responses but turned up no credible evidence yet, the cartoonist said on Friday.

With so much controversy surrounding Bush's National Guard service, a credible witness would have turned up by now if there was one, said Garry Trudeau.

"You can be sure some very motivated people have tried to find a witness who can establish Bush's presence at Dannelly Base beyond a reasonable doubt," said the creator of the politically irreverent and satirical daily cartoon. "Anyone who could do so would almost certainly have surfaced by now."

"Doonesbury" first posted the award on Monday.

The White House has released documents from Bush's Vietnam War-era service record in the Texas Air National Guard they say show the president fulfilled his duties at the Dannelly Base. But Democrats accuse him of skipping duty.

The documents offered no new evidence to show that Bush actually turned up for duty in Alabama during the latter part of 1972 -- a period when Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe says he was absent without leave.

Earlier this week, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee denounced the contest as a "silly stunt." Trudeau agreed.

"She's right," he said. "But as a simple investigative cartoonist, I don't have a very big tool kit."

Trudeau also said he doubted proof of Bush's service -- or lack thereof -- would affect his support in the November presidential election. "For me, stunt cartooning is mostly about keeping busy. If it tips a national election, well, that's just gravy," he said.

He said he planned to pay the $10,000 from his own money.

"What else am I going to do with a huge tax cut I didn't need? One of the unintended consequences of Mr. Bush's generosity toward the Great Un-needy is that I'm now a fat cat," he joked.

He also said he realized it was "counterintuitive" for him to support Democrats because he considered Bush to be "God's gift to cartoonists."

A Web site features a Witness Registration Form for submitting online testimony. The prize money will be paid by Trudeau in the form of a donation to the United Service Organization, or USO, which entertains U.S. troops.

A cutoff date is still in the works, he said.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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