Photo courtesy of Marion Doss.
I recently sat down to have a beer with former president, George W. Bush.
The following interview is totally real (no, really… I swear) and none of it is made up.
BTR: Before we start, I just want to ask you, who do you like in this election?
George W. Bush: I don’t really like to get involved… I don’t like the press much anymore…
BTR: It’s off the record. I’m just curious.
GWB: Well, I guess if I had to choose, I’d probably pick Santorum. He’s a good Christian. I admire that.
BTR: So, you think religion is an important part of being president?
GWB: Absolutely. I think it’s very important to have faith, especially for a president. When the times get tough, you gotta have somewhere to turn to.
BTR: So what about Mitt Romney? Do you think his religion-
GWB: He’s the Mormon one, right?
GWB: Yeah, I don’t know. Did you know that Mormons actually believe god lives on some planet named Kronos or something… I mean, how silly is that? C’mon! Everyone knows that he’s up there, in the clouds somewhere… not some far off planet! You… I don’t think you can’t be president if you believe in some whacky stuff like that. It’s just too weird.
BTR: Mr. President, you left office with the worst-
GWB: Are we starting?
BTR: Yeah, are you ready?
GWB: Just a sec. Hold on… Alright, shoot.
BTR: Okay… Mr. President, you left office with the worst poll numbers a president has ever had. Are you glad to be out of office?
GWB: Heck yeah. I’ll tell you, it sure is nice to just kick back and relax. Not have to worry about everything. Yeah, it’s just me and Laura livin’ on the Ranch. I even started taking up the guitar. Playing some mean licks when Laura’s out of the house. It’s nice. You know, you’re the president for a while, and you have to sacrifice… well, sacrifice might not be the best word you. You have to give up a certain anonymity. So, it’s nice to get that back.
BTR: If you could do it all again, is there anything you would do different?
GWB: You know, I’m sure historians will look back and say “gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way,” but uh… you know I hope I… I don’t want to sound like I’ve made no mistakes. I’m confidant I have. I just can’t think of anything at the moment…
BTR: What about Katrina?
GWB: Hmm. That was awful… yeah, it was pretty bad.
BTR: What went wrong?
GWB: It was an accident. A terribly and, uh… devastating accident that destroyed one of America’s greatest cities. It was a real shame, but the worst part of that whole deal was what Kanye said about me. Remember that? Yeah. I mean, it is true though – I don’t like black people, I love ‘em! Hell, I appointed Condi as my uh… what do you call it…my National Security officer. So, what more do you want? My favorite actor is Sam Jackson. I like that Tiger Woods guy. The new president…you know, he’s alright. So, that hurts more than anything, that he would say something like that.
BTR: You think that’s worse than the deaths or the hundreds of people that were left stranded and homeless?
GWB: Now, I don’t want to get into a word contest. What I said was it hurt me personally. Of course I deeply feel for all the people that got homeless and died… but my feelings were hurt by what Kanye said. And, you know, I’ve asked him to come out to the Ranch and see that I’m totally cool…
BTR: Right, well…
GWB: And, I love his music, especially that song “Jesus Walks,” I must have listened to that a hundred times. I know all the words…
BTR: What do you think you’ll be remembered for?
GWB: Do you know him?
GWB: Kanye West. You know him?
BTR: No, why?
GWB: Oh, well. No problem… Condi’s probably got his number.
(Then, after a long pause)
I mean she probably knows him… or someone that knows him…she knows a lot of people is what I’m sayin’…
BTR: Anyway, what do you think you’ll be remembered for?
GWB: Well, mostly what I did as a president was make decisions. That’s what my presidency was about. Making decisions. And the decisions I made led to a safer world and a safer America. I’m proud to say, that because of the measures my administration took we never had a single attack on American soil during my presidency.
BTR: Except for 9/11…?
GWB: I meant since 9/11. We haven’t been attacked since 9/11.
BTR: Do you think that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were what helped make us safer?
GWB: Of course I do. Without a doubt.
BTR: Even though we never found any WMDs in Iraq?
GWB: Well, that was disappointing… but, we didn’t know. We didn’t have the right intelligence. You have to understand, it’s not like we were trying to uh… to fool anyone, you know. We just made a mistake.
BTR: A mistake?
GWB: I don’t know if you want to call it a mistake… but things didn’t go according to plan. Let’s put it that way.
BTR: Yes, but-
GWB: Let me finish. We got intelligence from a reliable source that Iraq was buying yellow cake from, uh….
GWB: I know what it is! I just don’t like saying it… It’s not a word you want to uh…mis- uh….uh…mispronounceiate. But, anyway, like I was sayin’, we acted on what we thought was solid intelligence. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that it turned out to be wrong. You know, you work with what you got, and my staff told me that it was from a reliable source and that Iran… I mean Iraq was an immanent threat. And I believed them, you know? As a president you’ve got guys, and they tell you what the situation is. You ask for their opinions and advice. Then you have to make decisions based on that advice.
BTR: Well, sure, but-
GWB: Did you like Saddam? Do you wish he was still in power?
BTR: No. But that doesn’t mean-
GWB: Look, I don’t think anyone could say that a world without Saddam is a less dangerous place. He was a brutal dictator who gassed his own people. I’m glad that we had the strength to take him out.
BTR: Yeah, but there weren’t nearly as many bombings in the Middle East and around the world before we invaded Iraq. Don’t you see that by occupying another country we’re just fanning the flames?
GWB: No. I don’t. You have to understand that these people are set on our destruction. They hate our freedom. We’re fighting a different kind of enemy now. We can’t just sit around and wait for them to attack us again. If we don’t bring the fight to them, they’re gonna bring it to us. And we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
BTR: Why didn’t you just wait for the UN to finish their inspections?
GWB: Because they weren’t finding anything. I mean they were taking forever to find anything. And Saddam wasn’t just going to give up; we had to take him out first. And he did have the capability to make weapons… it was only a matter of time. How much time? I don’t know, but I do know that he would have used them. He did it before.
BTR: But, Iraq can’t reach us with missiles and they’re years behind other countries like North Korea and Pakistan…?
GWB: Well we’ll get to those other ones eventually… but right after 9/11… I was told that Iraq had the most valuable targets. And that we were trying to spread democracy to the Middle East, and my administration found that Iraq was the best target…so…
BTR: So, it wasn’t your decision?
GWB: When you have advisors that tell you what to do…what is best for the country…then you do it.
BTR: But did you choose to go into Iraq, or was that one of your advisors?
GWB: Look, I made decisions when they needed to be made, and I used the best intelligence and… gathered the best people for the job. I don’t understand why you keep asking if I really made decisions. Of course I made decision! I was the president! All I did was make decisions!
BTR: Actually, I don’t think you did. I think you’ve made very few decisions in your presidency. When you heard the news about the attacks on 9/11…and you just sat there, frozen?!
GWB: As the president, I thought it was best to stay calm. I didn’t want to start a panic.
BTR: It’s the nuclear age! You heard the news that America was under attack and you were afraid of upsetting a small classroom of 6th graders?!
GWB: Look, being the president is a hard job to do. I never wanted to be a wartime president, but things happen. I had to adjust to the… the situation. Listen, I made decisions… were they the right ones? I don’t know. We’ll let the history books sort that out. All I know is that when I look in the mirror, I’m proud of what I see.
BTR: You don’t feel any guilt?
GWB: Not at all. Look, I did the best job I could. I worked real hard.
BTR: No! See, you didn’t ‘work real hard’…you spent half your time in office clearing brush. You actually set the record for the most time-off of any president…
GWB: We have computers and phones on the ranch… it’s not like I was on the moon or anything. Just ‘cause I was in Crawford, doesn’t mean I wasn’t making the decisions. I was still in charge. It’s not like I was just taking orders…
BTR: So, why did we invade Iraq?
GWB: Like I said, my advisors…
I stormed out of the bar, quite drunk at this point, careful not to punch the former president in the face on my way out. But in a way, I felt very sorry for him. It was a strange mixture of hatred and sympathy that boiled over and made me kick the sidewalk in unbalance.
I took a deep breath and smiled up to the night sky, as I remembered that a president is only allowed to have 2 terms in office.