WASHINGTON – Congress' investigative agency won't look at the costs of President Bush's (search) "Top Gun" flight to an aircraft carrier to declare an end to major fighting in Iraq.
Comptroller General David Walker, head of the General Accounting Office (search), said Tuesday it would cost too much and take too long to do the study.
He also would have to look at similar actions by other presidents and possibly federal lawmakers "in order to do this kind of work in a professional, objective, nonpartisan, fair and balanced manner," Walker said.
"In my view, it does not pass a cost-benefit test," he said.
The requests were submitted by Reps. Henry Waxman (search), D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, and Mark Souder, R-Ind., chairman of a Government Reform subcommittee. Waxman said the trip had "clear political overtones."
Bush, who was an officer with the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War, landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, at sea off San Diego, in an S-3B jet piloted by a Navy flier. Wearing a flight suit, with his flight helmet under his arm, Bush hopped onto the flight deck and walked among the gathered sailors, welcoming them home from the Iraq war.
Some Democrats, like Waxman, called the trip political rather than presidential.
"To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech," said the Senate's most senior member, Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer initially said Bush had to use a plane rather than his helicopter because the aircraft carrier was going to be hundreds of miles offshore. It turned out the ship was just 39 miles from shore at the time of Bush's visit, an easy flight for a helicopter.
Fleischer then said Bush wanted "to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing. He wanted to see it as realistically as possible."
A day after Bush's visit, Fleischer dismissed any suggestion the trip was designed to boost Bush's re-election.
"This is not about the president," he said. "This is about thanking the men and women who won a war."