Dreaming of a White House Christmas

Barney the dog gets top billing in a video produced for this year's White House holiday greetings, one of many interactives available to Internet users who want to celebrate the season with the Bush administration.

The sights and sounds can be found on the White House's holiday Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/.

Online visitors to the White House can also watch first lady Laura Bush (search) giving a tour of the laboriously-decorated presidential mansion, decked out with 19 Christmas trees, 245 wreaths, 251 bows, 350 books under the tree and two antique sleighs.

The holiday tour offers 360-degree views of the state rooms, presidential greeting cards and historical White House photos, including images of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (search) with his family in 1943 and a picture of the 1960 Christmas party hosted by President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower (search).

Also in abundance around the White House are sculptures and other artworks fashioned after classic children's book characters. Curious George (search) and his "man with the yellow hat" greet visitors in the East Hall. Clifford the Big Red Dog, the Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter and the sisters from Little Women are among the many characters on display throughout the public areas.

"A Season for Stories," this year's holiday theme created by the first lady, a former librarian, leaves itself open to partisan snickering. But during this time of good will, the goal, according to Mrs. Bush, is to celebrate family time.

"Just like the holidays, great stories have a way of bringing families together," Mrs. Bush said in a statement. "This season, I have brought some favorite children's storybook characters to the White House to celebrate the holidays."

Not only are images and pictures of the stories carved out in artistic form, but high-ranking administration officials have been recorded reading nightly bedtime stories. Among those taking a break from their regular duties to read the holiday stories are Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Treasury Secretary John Snow, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten.

Their story-telling skills can be viewed on the White House Web site. President Bush's mother, Barbara Bush, was also expected to participate.

Choice readings so far have included "Olive, the Other Reindeer," recited by Snow, and "A Cowboy Night Before Christmas," read by Evans. 

But it's Barney, the president's three-year-old Scottish Terrier (search), who steals the show this year, starring in a sequel to last year's popular holiday feature. 

Barney Cam II: Barney Reloaded features Barney, who clearly has full run of the White House, neglecting his holiday chores, and at one point getting busted by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card for playing cards with former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer when he should be working.

In the five-and-a-half-minute video, senior White House officials, including political adviser Karl Rove (search), Press Secretary Scott McClellan and even Bush, chide the bearded little scamp for dereliction of duty.

"Everybody's looking for you, and you're supposed to be working, and here you are playing," Bush, wearing a long coat and cowboy hat, tells Barney, who is playing with a ball on the White House lawn after a snowfall.

"I know you've been out here a long time, because you've got snow everywhere," scolds the president, as the camera zooms in on Barney's furry face covered in snow. "You've got snow here on your leg. I mean, you need to be working and all you want to do is play ball."