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Bush Mimic ‘Marries’ Couple at Jefferson Memorial

April 18, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The bride shivered in the wind, a tuxedoed accordionist played ″Hail to the Chief″ and a make-believe George Bush arrived 20 minutes late to officiate Wednesday morning at a gag wedding outside the Jefferson Memorial.

The fake ceremony was staged by Gary Butler and his bride, Marilou Brown - who were married for real Tuesday night by a suburban Fairfax County, Va., magistrate - as a practical joke on about 50 of their friends.

The ″wedding″ guests gasped and then giggled as John Simmons, a Bush look-alike from Washington’s Gross National Product comedy troupe, stepped from a white stretch limousine surrounded by phony Secret Service agents in dark glasses, waved to the crowd and took his place behind a flower-bedecked altar on the lawn.

Over the roar of airplanes, helicopters and rush-hour traffic, the Bush mimic announced he was playing minister to the couple as ″captain of the ship of democracy.″

He called the newlyweds ″two points of light in this kinder and gentile nation of ours″ and led them in the Pledge of Allegiance. As Butler recited his vows, the bogus Bush advised the bride to ″read his lips.″ He wished them mutual fidelity in ″a perfectly monotonous relationship.″

It’s the second marriage for Butler, 41, and the third for Ms. Brown, 42. Both are bankers - and Republicans - who’ve been friends and drinking buddies since they met seven years ago. Butler said they decided to ″try something different, something novel″ this time around, for their friends’ amusement.

Butler is an ardent admirer of Thomas Jefferson, the former president. He and his new wife courted during evening strolls around the floodlit Jefferson Memorial. ″It’s very romantic,″ he said.

They decided to be married there, but the red tape of two Virginia residents getting a wedding license in the District of Columbia proved too much. So they were married privately in Virginia and invited friends to a public ″wedding″ the next morning at their favorite trysting place.

″We couldn’t get Tom Jefferson to marry us, so we got the next best thing, George Bush,″ said the bride.

After Wednesday’s reception, the Browns flew to a ski resort near Salt Lake City to spend their honeymoon at a three-day bankers’ conference.