President George W. Bush may have left office with a historically bad 22% approval rating, but he's still eager to impart his wisdom—for $150,000 a speech.
The former president will charge that hefty fee per pep talk - plus first-class or private jet transport for four—when he hits the lecture circuit next month with stopovers in Canada, the U.S. and other spots around the globe, sources told The News.
"There will always be people who want the prestige of a former President," said one public speaking expert.
Bargain hunters will be glad to know that for local talks near his new Dallas digs, Bush will cut his price - to a mere $100,000.
The ex-president's bookers at the Washington Speakers Bureau—where interested parties can also hire former First Lady Laura Bush—are pitching him as president "for eight of the most consequential years in American history."
"Faced with challenges from a terrorist attack to a global financial crisis," the bureau's Web site says, "he made difficult decisions that will shape the nation's course and world affairs for decades to come."
Bush isn't the first big-time political player to cash in on his resume, and experts said his fee is not out of line with others in his league.
Former President Bill Clinton earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, almost all of it from foreign companies, according to financial documents filed late last year by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton pulled in as much as $350,000 for a single speech, records show, although most gigs netted him about $125,000.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani also cashed in big-time on the lecture circuit after 9/11, amassing more than $11 million during one two-year-stretch.
A longtime Bush friend said 43 has decided to emulate his father's show-for-dough scenario: like 41, he plans to earn several million dollars in fees by frontloading his appearances for two or three years to "replenish the old coffers," as he said in one exit interview.
Then he'll have the luxury of cutting back if he wants - something big name speakers rarely do voluntarily, given the sky-high dollars to be reaped.
Bush, who moved to Dallas last week after unwinding for a month at his ranch in nearby Waco, Texas, is also working on a book about his presidency.
His first speech will be March 17 in Calgary, Alberta. The Canadian event is being promoted as "A conversation with George W. Bush," but is closed to the press.
"President during a period of great consequence, George W. Bush shares thoughts on his eight momentous years in the Oval Office and discusses the challenges facing the world in the 21st century," the brochure says. Link