updated 3/8/2008 11:59:50 PM ET 2008-03-09T04:59:50

President Bush said an early farewell to political Washington on Saturday night, making his first appearance on the stage of the Gridiron Club of Washington journalists.

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Bush surprised the white-tie audience of more than 600, including Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members and lawmakers, by appearing as the final act of the club's annual revue. To the tune of "Green Green Grass of Home," he sang about looking forward to his return to Texas.

"As I step down from the plane and there to meet me is my mama and my papa, down the lane I look and here comes Barney, heart of gold and breath like honey," the president warbled.

The audience was surprised by Bush's appearance and rose to applaud his attempt at singing.

"Yes, you're gonna miss me, the way you used to quiz me," he sang to the reporters. "It's good to touch the brown brown grass of home."

Bush has spoken at the Gridiron Club dinner before, but this was the first time he sang, donning a cowboy hat and joining the chorus to say farewell. He appeared at the behest of Gridiron president Carl Leubsdorf, Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News.

Founded in 1885, the invitation-only Gridiron Club is the oldest organization for Washington journalists.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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