DETROIT Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan
Mulally is no longer laughing about his suggestion that he
saved President Bush's life during a recent White House visit.
The No. 2 U.S. automaker has apologised after Mulally said
his claim that he had intervened to prevent U.S. President
George W. Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the
hydrogen tank of an experimental Ford vehicle had been meant as
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said,
"The story wasn't accurate, and I'll just decline to comment
Ford said Mulally never expected the story he told
journalists in New York last week would be taken seriously.
The CEO found himself in an embarrassing situation when the
story was featured on blogs and even in mainstream media such
as the Financial Times, which said, "he may have saved the
incumbent of the Oval Office from blowing himself up."
Mulally said last Wednesday, recounting a meeting at the
White House on March 28, that he had noticed the president
appeared to be ready to plug a power cord into the wrong outlet
of a rechargeable vehicle that also runs on hydrogen.
"I violated all protocols. I grabbed his arm and I moved
him up to the front," Mulally told reporters at the New York
"I wanted to make sure he plugged into the electricity, not
into the hydrogen," he said to roars of laughter from the
media, before adding: "This is all off the record, right?"
Ford said Mulally's anecdote had been inspired by a video
spoof featured on ABC-TV's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" talk show that
suggested Bush blew himself up by plugging the cord in the
"I tried to tell a joke about it and proved I am no Jimmy
Kimmel," Mulally said in a statement that was released to
Reuters on Wednesday. "It never occurred to me that it would
get such wide play or be taken seriously."
Ford spokesman Tom Hoyt said Mulally thought Kimmel's joke
was funny and showed it to several Ford officials before his
remarks to reporters.
"He just meant it as a joke. He kind of embellished the
whole thing," Hoyt said. "There was no danger whatsoever."
Bush irritated U.S. automakers and allies last year when he
said they should build more relevant products. He has been
reaching out to them this year and promoting alternative fuel
technologies as part of a plan to reduce gasoline consumption
by 20 percent.
(Additional reporting by Toby Zakaria in Washington DC)