George W. Bush "is the cockiest guy I have ever met," former Mexican President Vicente Fox says in an autobiography that pokes fun at the U.S. president's bad Spanish and false cowboy bravado.
Fox, who retired in December after a six-year term, worked closely with Bush on immigration and trade in the pair's first year in office in 2001.
The two leaders referred to each other publicly as "amigos" but their alliance soured after the September 11 attacks turned Washington's attention toward Iraq and Afghanistan and away from Latin America.
Fox, a conservative and a rancher like Bush, says in his book, "Revolution of Hope," that their first meeting in 1996 - when they were both state governors - left a mark.
"My first impression of George W. Bush was one of total self-confidence. He is quite simply the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life," Fox wrote, according to an advance copy of the book.
Except, perhaps, when it came to language skills. Fox said Bush was "a bit sheepish as he tried out his grade-school-level Spanish" at that meeting in Austin, Texas.
Bush raised hopes in Mexico when he said early in his presidency that there was no more important relationship for the United States than the one with Mexico.
Many Mexicans were disappointed when Bush failed to deliver on an immigration reform that would have favored the millions of Mexican illegal immigrants north of the border.
Bush had charmed the Mexican president by visiting his family ranch in the central state of Guanajuato in February, 2001 "on equal terms."
"This was the great honor George Bush paid to Mexico, the reason I will always be his friend, no matter how sharply we may disagree on Iraq," Fox said.
It was Bush's first foreign trip as president and came before Mexico, then a member of the U.N. Security Council, refused to support the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Fox, who often wore a trademark cowboy hat, was unimpressed when Bush turned down his offer to ride his favorite horse, a big palomino, during the Mexican ranch visit.
"Even now, George will be the first to admit that he's a "windshield cowboy," more comfortable driving his pickup truck around Crawford than he is on the back of a horse," Fox said.
© 2007 Reuters Limited.