George W. Bush Gushes About His “Genuine” Bond With Michelle Obama

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Considering the giant mess that was left at the foot of the White House lawn when Barack Obama took office in 2009, a bond between the Obama family and their predecessors, the Bush family, doesn’t seem that obvious. But politics aside, both parties are in fact real-life friends. In a recent interview with PEOPLE, former president George W. Bush spilled just how close they are, and dished about his affection for Michelle Obama.

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We’ve all seen the viral pics of the former first lady and Bush sitting next to each other or sharing a laugh during a hymn sing-a-long. Apparently, it was their regular seating arrangements that nurtured their friendship. “I can’t remember where I’ve sat next to her, but I probably have a few wise cracks and she seemed to like it okay,” Bush told PEOPLE of joking with Mrs. Obama. “She kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.”

The 43rd president of the United States also mentioned that she brings out his fun spirit. “I needle her a little bit and around her, I’m fairly lighthearted. [The Obamas] are around serious people all the time and we just took to each other,” Bush added, noting that the two have sat by each other at Nancy Reagan’s memorial service and at the opening ceremony of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photos of them holding hands and smiling instantly went viral. “When I saw her, it was a genuine expression of affection,” he said of the cute moment.

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In addition to sharing a couple of good laughs, Bush stated that he is also an admirer of Mrs. Obama’s efforts to help military families and veterans through her Joined Forces initiative with Dr. Jill Biden. He’s also dedicated to ensuring the wellness and employment of U.S. vets in his post-presidency “after-life,” and hopes to work with both the Obamas in the future. It looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more snapshots of these two.