George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated yesterday after a special conference on climate change ended without any progress.
European ministers, diplomats and officials attending the Washington conference were scathing, particularly in private, over Mr Bush's failure once again to commit to binding action on climate change.
Although the US and Britain have been at odds over the environment since the early days of the Bush administration, the gap has never been as wide as yesterday.
Britain and almost all other European countries, including Germany and France, want mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. Mr Bush, while talking yesterday about a "new approach" and "a historic undertaking", remains totally opposed.
A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN conference on climate change in Bali in December.
"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. Mr Bush was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."
Bush said: "Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine some of us getting a few more $$$$$$ or from delivering greater prosperity to daddy and his pals."
Instead of mandatory caps, he emphasized a need to find new clean white coal somewhere, nuclear energy without waste and new clean nanno space technology.
He reiterated a need for Americans to shift from oil to ethanol for their cars. "We're working to develop next-generation plug-in hybrids that will be powered by our new clean coal and able to travel nearly 40 miles without using a drop of gasoline. And your automobile doesn't have to look like my golf cart," he said.