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Transcript From Matt Lauer Historic Interview With Ex-President George W. Bush (With VIDEO Link)

Transcript From Matt Lauer Historic Interview With Ex-President George W. Bush (With VIDEO Link)

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Transcript from Matt Lauer Historic Interview with ex-President George W. Bush (with VIDEO Link)
To watch VIDEOS of this Interview (including a visit to George W. Bush childhood home),Please Click HEREMATT LAUER, co-host: Now our -- to our interview with President George W. Bush , his firstsince leaving office. He talked extensively about his presidency as he gets set to release his newmemoir, " Decision Points," tomorrow. And he told me how his decision not to pardon a type -- atop White House aide almost cost him his friendship with Vice President Dick Cheney . I think,President Bush , you're going to get a lot of attention for a story you put in the book about thelast portion of your presidency when you had a decision to make concerning Scooter Libby .President GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes.LAUER: And he had been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30years in prison. And you had a choice, you could've done nothing.Pres. BUSH: Right.LAUER: You could've commuted his sentence or issued a full pardon. You thought long and hardabout it.
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Pres. BUSH: I did. Scooter is a loyal American who worked for Vice President Cheney who gotcaught up in a -- in this Valerie Plame case and was indicted and convicted. And I chose tocommute his sentence. I felt he had paid enough of a penalty.LAUER: Critics immediately said, you know, if you're loyal to Bush , you don't have to go toprison. So you -- so it didn't come without a price.Pres. BUSH: That's right .LAUER: And yet Vice President Cheney wanted more.Pres. BUSH: He did. He wanted me to pardon him. And this is a decision that was -- it was thelast decision of the presidency, really. And I chose to let the jury verdict stand after some seriousdeliberation. And it -- the vice president was angry and...LAUER: Yeah. When you went to him and you told him, you said he was furious. He said, 'Ican't believe you're going to leave a soldier on the battlefield.'Pres. BUSH: Yeah, he did.LAUER: Has your relationship with Dick Cheney ever recovered from failing to give thepardon?Pres. BUSH: It has. I'm pleased -- I'm pleased to report it has.LAUER: You're friends today?Pres. BUSH: We are friends today and he gave a very gracious speech on the way out of townthere, at Andrews Air Force Base , and yeah, we are friends. I went by to see him, I've seen himsince and talked to him and I'm pleased to report we are. I was a little concerned at one time, but,no, it was a hard decision to make. But that's what you do when you're president, you make harddecisions.LAUER: President Bush also took me to the church where he married his wife , Laura , and hetalked about he called the most important decision of his life, his decision to quit drinking yearsago. In the book, you say, you know, faith is a walk.Pres. BUSH: Yeah, it is.LAUER: It's a journey and -- toward greater understanding. You said you can't prove that Godexists , but that shouldn't be the standard of belief because you also can't prove that God doesn'texist.Pres. BUSH: Yeah. Exactly.LAUER: What was it in your life, President Bush , that made you re-examine your own faith andtake a deeper look at it? Please, have a seat.
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Pres. BUSH: Thank you. I didn't like the person I was. I was drinking a lot. My parents did me agreat favor, they planted the seed of faith, but I, you know, I'd go to church so I wouldn't irritatemy mother.LAUER: President Bush says his faith helped him quit drinking cold turkey just after his 40thbirthday.Pres. BUSH: Yeah, I'd have a beer and so the book starts out with Laura saying can you tell me aday in which you haven't had a drink?LAUER: Right.Pres. BUSH: And when you drink too much, the answer's, yes, I can. And then I couldn'tremember a day. And you know, I could easily have a beer or two or a martini before dinner,bourbons, B&Bs , I was a drinker. Now I wasn't a knee walking drunk.LAUER: You were like a habitual drinker as opposed to an alcoholic.Pres. BUSH: Exactly. Nevertheless, in either case, alcohol becomes central to your life and Ifinally woke up and realized that I did not want to live a life where alcohol was central. And I 'mconvinced, I really am convinced, had I not quit drinking, I wouldn't be sitting here as a formerpresident because I chronicle a few incidents...LAUER: Sure.Pres. BUSH: ...where alcohol made my quick tongue not only quick, but caused me to be stupid.LAUER: He'll actually share one of those stories during the interview. You can catch the entireinterview with President Bush tonight, it's a one-hour prime-time special, "Decision Points: AConversation with George W. Bush ." It airs at 8, 7 Central time right here on NBC . And then hewill be here live in our studio on Wednesday morning. If you'd like to submit a question toPresident Bush , you can just go totodayshow.comor you can also give it to us on Twitter orFacebook .
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