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A family tree analysis indicates that President Bush, at left, and his front-running Democratic challenger, John Kerry, are 16th cousins, three times removed. Such links aren't all that unusual, genealogy buffs say.
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updated 2/17/2004 1:29:02 PM ET 2004-02-17T18:29:02

Democratic presidential candidates are constantly being compared to the current commander in chief. Now, two genealogy buffs say they have proof President Bush and the current Democratic front-runner share similarities thicker than water.

Bruce and Kristine Harrison, Hawaii-based publishers of historical databases, traced back the family histories of Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

The result? They're cousins.

Well, 16th cousins, three times removed, to be exact. But cousins, nonetheless.

Truth be told, one might find such distant family ties between Bush and any of the four other major Democratic candidates.

The link between the president and the Rev. Al Sharpton might date back a bit further, Bruce Harrison said, but tracing ancestries helps illuminate a greater message on human interconnectedness.

"I believe everybody on the planet is related if you go back far enough," said Harrison, 51, whose Millisecond Publishing in Kamuela puts out a line of ancestral history CDs. He and his wife have spent the last eight years compiling information from hundreds of genealogical books and periodicals. "We're setting the stage for others to explore their curiosity," he said.

Other big-name ancestors
Harrison says the search through family trees also turned up other big-name ancestors of Kerry and Bush. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is the president's ninth cousin, twice removed, while Kerry can count Johnny Appleseed as his sixth cousin, six times removed. Both the president and the Massachusetts senator can claim ties to figures ranging from Charlemagne to Walt Disney to Marilyn Monroe, Harrison said.

For an average user of the Family Forest software, it could be more difficult to find such well-known links, but Harrison says he believes everyone can find some ancestral information in the database.

As for the political adversaries' kinship, the only reunion in store seems to be a debate, should Kerry win his party's nomination. A Bush campaign spokeswoman said she had no comment on the issue. A message left with Kerry's spokesman was not returned.

'Just bragging rights'
The Honolulu County Genealogical Society's Mary Ann Bolton said she wasn't too impressed with those who troll family trees looking for star-studded connections.

"I don't really put too much into that," she said. "That's just bragging rights."

Harrison said his motivation in finding the link wasn't political, nor was it purely curiosity. Since publicizing the Bush-Kerry relation, the number of daily visits to his Web site has more than tripled.

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