Last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy promoted Eddy Mercx to a Commander the Legion d'Honneur.
Can you imagine any American President giving Lance or Greg LeMond the Presidential Medal of Freedom? As far as I know, the only Armstrong to win the medal was Neil. And he got it from Nixon! That's something like being given an ethics award by Bernie Madoff.
Anyway...I think Sarkozy making Eddy a Legionnaire begs the question of what kind of country we'd have with a President who was a cyclist, or who was at least cycling-conscious.
Monsieur Sarkozy is known to be something of a velo aficionado, and has been seen riding on holidays. I'm guessing that other French, and European, leaders liked to tour on two wheels.
During his campaign, Bill Clinton was seen astride his Merlin titanium bike (They were all the rage during the '90's.) but apparently he lost his time or appetite (or both) for riding once he was in office. Jimmy Carter became an avid rider and is often seen astride his Rivendell. However, I somehow can't imagine either of the Bushes, Reagan or Nixon in the saddle. Of course, FDR couldn't have ridden. But somehow I don't think it's much of a stretch to envision Teddy Roosevelt, or even Harry Truman or Eisenhower on two wheels, at least before they became President.
To my knowledge, none of the current Republican candidates for the Presidency is a cyclist. Nor, for that matter, is Obama.
Quite possibly the most famous thing any head of state did with or on a bicycle was when the King of Denmark abandoned his in Tivoli Square when the Nazis decreed that no Jew could own or ride one.
Would this, or any country be better off with a leader who rides a bicycle? I'd like to believe so.