Bush: We will be even stronger

President Bush forged a vision of an America advancing toward an "unknown shore" of steadfast global commitment, energy independence and a solid domestic environment in his State of the Union address Tuesday night .

After a few words of remembrance for Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights activist in her own right who died that morning, Bush launched into a speech that, while consistently optimistic in its forecasts, acknowledged his critics and touched on many of the thorniest issues in current events.

"Tonight, the state of our union is strong, and together we will make it stronger," Bush said. That theme of cooperation continued later in the speech when Bush said his administration had "adjusted" its tactics for nurturing democracy in the Middle East. He told members of Congress his administration had "benefited from responsible criticism and counsel."

"In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice," he said.

No love was lost, however, for those critics who met Bush's policies with "defeatism."

"Hindsight alone is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy," he said.

That strong condemnation underscores the importance Bush placed on terrorism and the war against it being staged in the Middle East. He emphasized the "commitments" the United States has abroad and railed against isolation, a political tactic he condemned at least three separate times in his address.

"The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will not surrender to evil," he said. "We cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating into our borders. There is no peace in retreat. There is no honor in retreat."

While terrorism was a safe bet as a dominant theme in Bush's speech, energy independence emerged as a surprise hot topic.

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," he said.

Bush called for a 22 percent increase in funding for "clean energy research" into fields like zero-emission coal plants , nuclear energy and wind and solar power. He also plugged funding for research into hydrogen-powered and hybrid cars and championed a "practical, competitive" method for producing ethanol, a fossil fuel alternative produced from organic sources like corn . Additionally, he said he hopes to cut importation of Middle Eastern oil by 75 percent by 2025 .

On the domestic front, Bush lobbied for tougher education standards for teachers and students alike in the hopes of shoring up America's scores in standardized math and science tests.

"If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world," he said.

Bush also touched on a number of issues at the forefront of public debate, including immigration ("We must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally and reduces smuggling and crime at the borders"), the economy ("Our economy is healthy and vigorous and growing faster than any other industrialized nation's") and restoration of the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast ("We have contributed $85 billion to rebuild this area").

Bush ended his address on a typically upbeat note: "We must never get into the belief that America is in decline or that our culture is doomed to unravel. We have proved the pessimists wrong, and we will do so again."