White House counselor Dan Bartlett, the man who unwittingly confirmed that President Bush participated in discussions with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and political czar Karl Rove about firing U.S. Attorneys who weren’t sufficiently political in their prosecutions, is hightailing it out of the administration.

Bartlett made the traditional Friday announcement of his exit strategy, coupling it with the even more traditional announcement that when the going gets tough the tough suddenly recognize that they want to spend more time with their children.

What really made Bartlett, a veteran if not exceptionally competent presidential apologist, decide at this particular point to follow the rats over the side of the Bush battleship?

Could it be that even Bartlett – a man who has been at Bush’s side for 14 years – has tired of the boy king’s, er, gee, what’s the right word here, um, madness.

Syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer writes in Thursday’s editions of The Dallas Morning News: "[By] all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness. Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country’s destiny."

Geyer’s report echoes assessment by Chris Nelson, who edits The Nelson Report, a well-regarded daily review of national security issues that circulates among politicians and opinion makers in Washington. Nelson wrote earlier this month that: "[Big] money players up from Texas recently paid a visit to their friend in the White House. The story goes that they got out exactly one question, and the rest of the meeting consisted of The President in an extended whine, a rant, actually, about no one understands him, the critics are all messed up, if only people would see what he’s doing things would be OK… etc., etc. This is called a "bunker mentality" and it’s not attractive when a friend does it. When the friend is the President of the United States, it can be downright dangerous. Apparently the Texas friends were suitably appalled, hence the story now in circulation."

Let’s see: The commander-in-chief is "wild-eyed."

He’s whining about how "no one understands."

Taking his finger off the nuclear button and "thumping himself on the chest."

Ranting "I am the president!"

Calling Iraq "our country’s destiny."

Friends turn to Bartlett, the man they have always seen at Bush’s side, for an explanation of the president’s increasingly erratic behavior.

Bartlett checks his watch. "Oops, time to go! Gotta spend more time with the kids."