Anne Applebaum tells it like it is in the current Spectator in London (sub req). Money quote:
By attending the G8 summit this month in St Petersburg, Illarionov said, Western leaders will show their approval of 'the nationalisation of private property, destruction of the rule of law, violation of human rights and liquidation of democracy'.
She's right, of course, as she often is (and has long been what Ramesh Ponnuru calls an "hysteric" on the Bush torture policy). But Hitch nails the Bush-Putin love-in more brutally here:
Out of a thesaurus of possible nominations, one would have to select George Bush's remarks about Vladimir Putin as the stupidest utterance of his entire presidency. Impressed beyond words by the fact that Putin was wearing a crucifix that had belonged to his mother and was thus a man of faith, our chief executive then burbled like a schoolgirl and said that he had looked into the man's eyes and knew he was the one to trust. (I have not checked, but surely someone can discover how many times Putin has worn that crucifix since. It could be a sort of emblem of the fatuity of the "faith-based.")
Since then, Putin has been noticeable for his efforts to protect Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, the Iranian mullahs, and the Sudanese racist cleansers from any concerted action by the United Nations and has instructed his troops in Chechnya to behave in a manner that would cause a storm of international outrage if emulated by coalition forces in Iraq.
But the president looked into Putin's soul. Why would he need actual empirical evidence after that?
(Hat tip: Iain Murray.)