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A picture-perfect ex-governor

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A tear or two spilled down President Bush's cheek Friday as he saw his portrait unveiled in the Texas state Capitol and reflected on his "joyous six years" as governor.

"I'm going to take that can-do Texas spirit to Washington, for however long I'm there, and remind people that results are what matters," the president said.

On Monday, he closes a 12-day holiday at his central Texas ranch and returns to Washington to face a politically fractious election year.

But Friday was for nostalgia as his gubernatorial portrait took its prominent place on the first floor of the Capitol rotunda, beside that of Democrat Ann Richards, the incumbent Bush unseated in 1994 after a bitterly fought race.

"It is amazing for me to think — when I step back and think — that this will be hanging here forever," Bush said. "I just hope Governor Richards doesn't mind being my neighbor for eternity."

First lady Laura Bush, who helicoptered with her husband to Austin for the brief ceremony and a private reception, helped Fort Worth artist Scott Gentling lift the black velvet shroud from his $10,000 work.

Bush, who served as governor until the Election 2000 recount that made him president, shrugged sheepishly as the painting won applause. He then joked his way past the emotion that showed in his wet eyes.

He thanked the small crowd of Texas pols, old pals and longtime advisers for coming to "witness my hanging."

He thanked Gentling, for whom Bush sat on previous visits to his ranch, for "taking time to try to figure me out."

"Looks like you did me justice," Bush told the artist.

Against a smoke gray background, wearing a cheerful blue necktie, the painted Bush perches, with a casual slouch to his shoulders, on the corner of a desk.

It is Gentling's first Texas governor's portrait, and Bush said he was nervous at first when he learned that Gentling came from a family famous for painting birds.

"Pretty tough old bird here to paint, wasn't I," Bush cracked.

The first lady said the portrait "shows the president with his warmth and his resolve. This is the way I've always seen him and as America and the world are coming to know him."

Gov. Rick Perry, who succeeded Bush, said the portrait would be a reminder of "a man who governed with civility, passion and tremendous character."

Giving the ceremony a family-homecoming feel were several White House advisers, including Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, who worked for Bush when he was governor.

"We had fun, we got some positive things done for Texas. We worked hard, and it was the memories that I'll never forget," Bush said.

"I went up to Washington with a wonderful sense of being able to get things done," he added. "I still believe that can happen."

Before catching Marine One back to his secluded 1,600 acres in Crawford, Bush mused about a simpler future: "One of these days, I'll be back, settled in, sitting on my porch in Crawford, looking for somebody to come and recount old war stories with."