I had the opportunity to meet and speak with GW at a fund raiser when he was running the first time (not a long conversation, over 5 min). And I found him to be smart, witty and very adept. But the mainstream liberal media hates republicans so they painted him a certain color and the public having little choice bought it.
The mischaracterization of Republicans has been going on for a long time. Keep in mind according to the MSLM,
Eisenhower was intellecually dull.
Nixon was a crook (okay that one was right)
Ford was stupid (He played football in College and they used to say he was hit in the head too many times, Nice huh?)
Reagan was stupid. (He was only an actor they said, what did he know?)
They destroyed Dan Quayle's reputation. This began on day one when he was announced as VP.
And they also destroyed Sarha Palin's reputation (but she seems to be getting revenge by never going away)
EDIT: I'm glad that people get a second look at GW. And at least part of the blame goes to his advisors who kept him away from this type of interview.