President Bush likes to drop a few words of Spanish in his speeches and act like he's proficient in the language. But he's really not that good, his spokesman said Thursday.

"The president can speak Spanish but not that well," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "He's not that good with his Spanish."

McClellan's comment was noticeable because presidential press secretaries usually boast about a president's ability rather than talk about any shortcomings. McClellan is in the last days of his job, leaving the White House next week.

McClellan made his remark in response to a report that Bush had sung the Star-Spangled Banner in Spanish during the 2000 campaign. Just last week Bush said the national anthem should be sung in English, not Spanish.

"It's absurd," McClellan said of the report, suggesting that Bush couldn't have sung it in Spanish even if he had wanted to.