Guenevere, you keep referring to bowing as though it has a dreadful connotation. It may in your mind, I do not know why. But in other cultures, it certainly does not. It is simply a tradition of showing respect and oft times, the recepient bows back. I do not know why you have the reaction you do but the presidents, senators, etc.do it because it is protocol and they do follow it as a sign of respect. They do not take offense.