WASHINGTON – It might have seemed a way to thaw a sometimes chilly relationship between the Bush administration and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (search). The ousted judge would sit down with the first lady for a spot of tea.
But Laura Bush's (search) spokesman says she isn't attending Saturday's First Ladies Inaugural Tea (search), featuring Moore as the speaker, and wasn't even invited. The event's organizer insists she was invited and that the White House had told her Mrs. Bush would stop by.
"We're praying she'll be with us," said Merrie Turner (search) of Fairfax, Va., who is footing the bill for the event at a Washington hotel honoring congressional wives in addition to Mrs. Bush.
Although President Bush and Moore are both conservative Republicans, their somewhat cool relationship stems from Moore's refusal to follow a court order requiring him to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama judicial building. The standoff cost Moore his job.
Bush later appointed former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Pryor helped lead the legal effort to remove Moore from the bench, so the appointment enraged some backers of Moore.
Moore said he didn't interpret the invitation to speak at the tea as any kind of peace offering from the Bush administration.
"I don't think the president owes anybody anything except to be the president and do what's right," Moore said. "I don't know that there's anything else behind my invitation except to hear about what I have to say."