(CNN) – It's been 145 years since he appeared on a ballot, but America's admiration for the man who saved the union and sparked the end of slavery is stronger than ever, according to a new presidential survey.
Abraham Lincoln finished first in a ranking by historians of the 42 former White House occupants released over Presidents Day weekend.
The news wasn't quite as good for the latest addition to the nation's most exclusive fraternity; George W. Bush finished 36th in the survey, narrowly edging out the likes of historical also-rans Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding and Franklin Pierce.
James Buchanan - the man who watched helplessly as the nation lurched toward civil war in the 1850s - finished last.
"As much as is possible, we created a poll that was non-partisan, judicious and fair minded," said Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley, who helped organize the survey of 65 historians for cable television network C-SPAN.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ed Gillespie, a longtime adviser to George W. Bush, announced Friday he will serve as general chairman of Republican Bob McDonnell’s campaign for governor in Virginia.
McDonnell said in a statement that Gillespie, who ran the Republican National Committee from 2003 to 2005, has “a record of winning tough campaigns and helping to develop and enact policies that make life better for our citizens.”
McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox said Gillespie “will be involved in every aspect of the campaign, from policy development to strategic decisions to fundraising.”
Gillespie’s ties to Bush extend back to the 2000 campaign, when he served as a senior communications adviser to the then-Texas governor. He went on to serve as RNC chairman during the administration and became a familiar face on Sunday talk shows. Gillespie is a founding party of the Washington lobbying firm Quinn, Gillespie and Associates, but he severed financial ties to the firm after he returned to serve in the White House in 2007. Cox said he is no longer a lobbyist.
Gillespie, a resident of Fairfax County, has also been a player in Virginia politics: He advised George Allen during his failed Senate re-election bid in 2006, and he briefly chaired the Republican Party of Virginia in 2006 and 2007.
Former President Bush and his family departed the Capitol earlier Tuesday for Andrews Air Force Base. (Mike Roselli/CNN)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – On President Bush's final day in office, painters and cleaning crews were still working in the West Wing press offices. Moving crews heaved boxes and delicately carried paintings bound in bubble wrap. Other moving trucks were unloading boxes and carting them into the White House.
George W. Bush spent Tuesday morning making calls. He rang outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
The former president also had a conversation with his good friend the Rev. T.D. Jakes.
Jakes is the chief pastor of the nondenominational megachurch Potter's House in Dallas, Texas. He was in Washington to give a sermon Tuesday at St. John's Church, a short walk from the White House.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As outgoing Press Secretary Dana Perino handed out presidential M & M’s to the White House press corps Tuesday morning, she said that President Bush went to the Oval Office at 6:50 this morning and spoke by phone to Condoleezza Rice, Andy Card, Stephen Hadley and Minister T.D. Jakes, who is a close friend of the outgoing president, and will be giving the sermon at the St. John’s service this morning.
Perino says the President took a last walk around the South Lawn and spent the rest of the morning with his family.
When asked how the president is feeling, Perino said that this is an emotional day for everyone.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - One night before their son turns the White House over to Barack Obama, a melancholy former President George Herbert Walker Bush and his wife Barbara made an impromptu visit to the press briefing room on Monday and chatted with reporters about how much they will miss the building they have called home on and off for a couple of decades.
"We will miss coming and going, but it's time to move on," said the former President, who has been a frequent visitor during his son's two terms in office. "The Bushes are going to a happy life."
When a reporter suggested perhaps former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will take the White House back someday, the former President smiled, "Maybe Jeb will do something. I'd like to see him try."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush is sharing his last dinner at the White House residence with his family tonight, according to White House spokesman Dana Perino. The president and the first lady will be joined by his parents, and their daughters Barbara and Jenna.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – There was a candid moment in President Bush's final news conference that was largely overlooked, but should not be completely ignored because it offers a window on why his domestic legacy is looking pretty thin as he readies a farewell address on Thursday evening.
When asked to reflect on his mistakes, Bush made a rare admission. "I believe that running the Social Security idea right after the '04 elections was a mistake," he said. "I should have - should have argued for immigration reform."
Let's take the Social Security part first, and deal with immigration in a moment.
What the president was really saying is that he - and top aides at the time like Karl Rove - made a major miscalculation immediately after the 2004 re-election, when Bush famously told reporters that he now had a lot of "political capital" to burn and he planned to spend it on a big idea like Social Security reform.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As George W. Bush spends his final days in office, a new national poll suggests that more than two-thirds of Americans see his presidency as a failure.
Sixty-eight percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation say they feel that Bush's eight years in the White House were a failure, with 44 percent saying this was due to his personal shortcomings and 22 percent blaming the failure on circumstances beyond his control.
Less than a third (31 percent) consider Bush's presidency a success.
Half of those polled say that the United States would be better off today had Al Gore been elected president in 2000 rather than Bush, with 27 percent saying the country would be worse off if the then-Vice President Gore had won.
The White House has released excerpts of President Bush's farewell address to the nation tonight, as prepared for delivery. The president will reflect on Barack Obama's inauguration, the response to 9/11 - and on "setbacks" he's faced over the past eight years. (Excerpts, as released by the White House, after the jump)
Watch the president's speech on CNN tonight at 8 pm.