Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Hugh Hefner wasn't thrilled to discover Dubya in his family tree'

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Who knew that George W Bush and Hugh Hefner are cousins? The former leader of the free-love world and Mr Bush share the ancestry of a pilgrim who left Plymouth for Massachusetts in the 17th century.

The relationship may not be close, although for at least one of them – and no jackpot for guessing which – it is still too close to call for a bottle of celebratory champagne served by a buxom young woman in a bunny costume. The Hef, a long-term supporter of the Democrats, was less than thrilled to be informed of his cousinhood to the black sheep of that family. "I feel closer to Senator Kerry," he said. John Kerry, Bush's opponent in the 2004 election, is yet another ninth cousin of them both.

In fact, it seems that in the US, everyone is a ninth cousin of everyone else. Obama is the ninth cousin of Brad Pitt, for example, and Hillary Clinton has the same distant relationship to Angelina Jolie.

Yet while being related to Brangelina is one thing, having Dubya perched on an adjacent branch of the family tree is obviously something else. The Hef, however, seems to bear the stigma with typical restraint and dignity.

While Mr Bush is happily retired now (happily for us, at least) and living quietly in Dallas, Texas with wife Laura, the Hef – at 85, Bush's senior by 20 years – shows few signs of slowing up. Life in the Playboy Mansion in LA continues much as ever, and only last June he came within four days of marrying a Playmate of 25 before a certain Crystal Harris called it off.

Whether her last-minute change of heart had anything to do with the discovery of a particularly obnoxious skeleton in the genealogical closet isn't known and her indefatigable ex-fiancé responded by instantly resuming relations with his number one and number two ranked pre-engagement girlfriends, the identical 'Shannon Twins'.

Hef and Dubya have never met, so far as anyone is aware – a global tragedy. Had the young George been sent to live with his cousin Hugh, he would never have sobered up, and the world would be a very different place today.

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