Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez took the podium at the United Nations, where he launched his latest verbal salvo against President Bush and U.S. world influence. Making the sign of the cross, Chavez described Bush as "the devil" and decried Washington's misuse of its far-reaching power.
President Bush was not present to hear Chavez's speech to the General Assembly. U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said the remarks don't warrant a response.
Addressing the U.N. body Tuesday, President Bush spoke of promoting democracy in the Middle East. But other world leaders, like Chavez and Iran's President President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, used the U.N. podium to challenge America's influence in the world.
Speaking through an interpreter, Chavez called on nations to rise up against what he called America's hegemony. He even had some recommended reading for his colleagues: Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance.
"It's an excellent book to help us understand what's been happening in the world throughout the 20th century," Chavez said, "and what's happening now."
Chavez flipped through a transcript of President Bush's speech from Tuesday as he lambasted the president's talk of a freedom agenda in the world. The Venezuelan president got plenty of chuckles for making the sign of the cross and calling Bush the devil.
"And it smells of sulfur still today," Chavez said. "Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum — the president of the United States, the gentleman whom I refer to as 'the devil' — came here, talking as if he owned the world."
The United States had only a junior note-taker in the room to listen to the speech.
Relations between the United States and Venezuela — a key oil supplier — have been frosty for years, with Washington and Caracas often trading insults. Washington is also lobbying hard to keep Venezuela off the U.N. Security Council. Chavez is vying for an open seat on the council to have more clout in the U.N. system.