As guest host of "Today," first lady Laura Bush proved she can be as chatty and genial as the broadcast pros.
Even better, she demonstrated how to keep it under control Tuesday. In the company of the NBC morning show's fawning, overeager veterans, Bush brought a welcome air of restraint _ while much of the time, her on-air companions might have seemed to the former teacher like schoolchildren on a sugar rush.
"You did that so well, it's obvious that WE are overpaid," news anchor Ann Curry marveled after Bush did a brief voiceover announcement.
"Well, it's been obvious we're overpaid for a long time," co-anchor Matt Lauer chimed in. "It didn't take Mrs. Bush to prove that."
In this unusual, much-promoted appearance, the first lady co-hosted the third hour of the four-hour "Today" sprawl, sharing her slot with Curry and Al Roker.
But her guest appearance was clearly pegged to the publication of "Read All About It," a new book she co-authored with daughter Jenna. They shared a more conventional interview segment earlier in the program, questioned by Curry. The book, aimed at youngsters, is intended to promote reading literacy, a favorite cause of Bush.
A bit later, once Bush had taken on the mantle of host, a segment on "life as twins" brought back Jenna with her twin sister Barbara.
"Jenna, how are you different from Barbara?" their mom asked.
Jenna Bush explained that, despite being very close to her sister, they were different in many ways _ "our parents raised us to be different," she said.
In a pretaped feature appropriate for Earth Day, the first lady gave Curry a tour of the Bush home in Crawford, Tex., which was designed to be eco-friendly. Curry gushed about the beauty of the residence and its pastoral setting.
Back in the studio, Curry and Roker plied Bush with up-close-and-personal questions like the songs on her iPod playlist. To that query, Bush responded not with titles, but a tip.
"A great place to take your iPod," she advised, "is to the dentist."
Then it was time to don aprons for a cooking segment under the direction of New Orleans chef John Besh.
Well, not exactly cooking. Besh officiated as Curry, Roker and Bush competed in a challenge to construct the best po-boy sandwich in 25 seconds. Bush was declared winner.
Finally, Laura and Jenna Bush jointly interviewed children's author R.L. Stine.
During the program, Jenna Bush emerged as a star in her own right, demonstrating a gift for a clever line. She fielded questions about her marriage next month to longtime boyfriend Henry Hager. But when trying to convey the close relationship she shares with her twin sister, she cracked, "We've already told him that on every Christmas Eve I plan to still sleep with Barbara."
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