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Presidential Bus Prompts Pictures, Salutes

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Naturally, that's what Baskerville wondered when he saw the bus stop in front of a house he owns just a block or so from where he lives. He grabbed his new digital camera in case he caught a glimpse of the former prez.

"It looked like Air Force One just flew down the street," Baskerville recalls.

A host of keen-eyed motorists and pedestrians must have spied the multiblue-hued behemoth of a bus adorned with American flags, eagles and a presidential-looking seal as it made its way around the city that day. Or else on Wednesday when it ambled along Monument Avenue, cruised Carytown and dallied downtown. If you happened to get behind it, you could even spy the words "Motor Coach One" emblazoned across its back.

Surely a bus so marked with tinted windows carries very important people.

Oftentimes it does, says Mark Pounders, spokesman for Winn Transportation, which owns the bus. Frequently the White House, FBI and other federal government agencies use the bus.

But for security reasons Pounders can't say who rides it, when it's in use, or where it goes. "It's probably part of the antiterrorism effort," he says. "But we've made agreements not to disclose details of future or past trips."

When it's not in use by VIPs, other people can ride the bus.

So who was onboard Motor Coach One last week?

Thanks to a reporter's tailgating, it was uncovered that Wednesday's circuitous citywide trip was made by a group of tourists who ended up highly engaged by a reenactment of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech at St. John's Church. The former prez was not among them.

Pounders says reporters racing to follow the bus or people who snap pictures of it shouldn't feel stupid when regular folks step off. "It gets saluted all the time," he says. "Even when it's empty." — Brandon Walters

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