I'm probably the last lefty in the blogosphere to post something on Bush's AWOL past, but it's worth posting as many places as possible.(via Atrios)
The short version: In May 1968 the silver-spoon son of a U.S. congressman jumped to the top of a long waiting list despite mediocre scores on his pilot-aptitude test and was allowed to enlist in the Guard, a common way to avoid being drafted into combat in Vietnam.
In May 1972 he sought a transfer from Houston, where he flew F-102s on weekends, to a unit in Montgomery, Ala. There, he worked on the U.S. Senate campaign of a friend of his father's and, records indicate, blew off his military obligations.
Bush failed to take his annual flight physical in 1972 so Guard officials grounded him, the story went. He never flew again and received an early discharge to go to graduate school. His final officer-efficiency report from May 1973 noted only that supervisors hadn't seen him or heard from him.
Bush's campaign biography obscured or misrepresented these details. In the summer and fall of 2000, his spokesmen offered various and evolving explanations for what Democrats said represented a far bigger "character issue" than any of the windy exaggerations of their candidate, Vice President Al Gore.