Live from the White House in the 7am EDT half hour of Thursday’s Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer pressed President George W. Bush to respond to a series of liberal talking points, starting with how “people have worried that the National Guard is stretched too thin” with “so many overseas” in Iraq. Later, she demanded: “Do we have to make a choice, at some point, between what we're doing in Iraq and what is needed, right now, to funnel massive amounts of money” to the hurricane victims? She also wanted Bush to “guard against price gouging” and wondered: “Is this a time to call on Americans to simply pull back, not use the gas? Pull back and stay at home and save the gas for those who are in dire need." Sawyer forwarded how “some people have said that the oil companies, themselves, should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis.” She suggested the federal government owes everyone a job as she asked “how far the federal government is going to go to get their lives back? Do you promise jobs? Do you promise that they will be moved back into housing, and how soon?"
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Intermixed with those queries were questions about the suppose slowness of the federal response and her concerns about how those looting only did so because they were “desperate” and so should not be prosecuted, a notion Bush rejected.
The MRC’s Brian Boyd took down all of Sawyer’s questions posed to Bush in the Roosevelt Room on the September 1 Good Morning America:
# "I know you get private briefings on the human tolls so far. What can you tell us about anticipated death and those who are missing?"
# "And the private death toll at this point?"
# "Everyone who watches the pictures go by and I should say here in the situation room we have on the screen, a screen where you have teleconferencing and the pictures can go by as well, is there one image that symbolizes to you the dimension of what happened?"
# "And in fact, Mr. President, this morning as we speak, as you say, there are people with signs saying 'Help. Come get me.' People still in the attic waving, nurses are phoning in saying the situation in hospitals is getting ever more dire, that the nurses are getting sick now because no clean water. And some of the things they have asked our correspondents to ask you, they expected, they say to us, that the day after this hurricane that there would be a massive and visible armada of federal support. There would be boats coming in, there would be food, there would be water and it would be there within hours. They wondered what's taking so long?"
# "But given the fact that everyone anticipated a hurricane 5, a possible hurricane 5, hitting shore, are you satisfied at the pace at which this is arriving and which it was planned to arrive?"
# "Couple of quick questions about the concerns. Any signs of disease outbreaks, yet?"
# "National security, another problem, and security in the region. We've seen the looting before. National Guard troops, as we have said, are now up to 22,000, I think, by tomorrow, coming in. But people have worried that the National Guard is stretched too thin. So many overseas. And the governors themselves, bi-partisan number of governors, have worried out-loud that with so many National Guard deployed, so many places, they don't have the full quadrant it may take."
# "I wanted to ask a question, if I can. It's kind of a philosophical question about the looters, themselves, because there's been so much debate. Many of them going in have said 'We're only going in because we're desperate. We need shoes to walk around in because our feet are being cut. We need food for our children.' What is your view of what prosecution should and shouldn't be, of what arrests should and shouldn't be in a situation like this? What's justified and what's not?"
Bush replied: “I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking law during an emergency such as this. Whether it be looting or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud...”
# “A lot of people around the country are asking what else they could do. You have mentioned giving cash to charities and to the Red Cross. But, gas prices going up at the pumps. We've seen in Atlanta, the lines backing up and some of the prices are going up to $4, $5. First of all, what do you want to say about what is the government putting in place to guard against price gouging? And then also, is this a time to call on Americans to simply pull back, not use the gas? Pull back and stay at home and save the gas for those who are in dire need."
# "We know you talked to the Saudis. Have the Saudis agreed to increase production?"
# "Some people have said that the oil companies, themselves, should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis. Conservative commentator, popular one, called last night for 20 percent reduction in the profits. Do you call on them to do this?"
(The MRC’s Rich Noyes informed me the “conservative commentator” is FNC’s Bill O’Reilly who proposed the silly idea in his “Talking Points Memo.”)
# "Well, I was going to ask about that. We saw Chris Bury's report about the movement from the Superdome to the Astrodome. And the prospect, some people are saying, of a million American refugees in place for a very long time. It's really a two part question, which is what are you saying to them about how far the federal government is going to go to get their lives back? Do you promise jobs? Do you promise that they will be moved back into housing, and how soon?"
# "And can America afford this cost? Because a number of people, again, are saying right now we are straining at the seams a bit. We are paying the war in Iraq, and the cost of that in the tens and tens of million dollars a day. Do we have to make a choice, at some point, between what we're doing in Iraq and what is needed, right now, to funnel massive amounts of money-?"
# "What about the other nations of the world? Are they offering the kind of help that you expected them to help, you want them to help, and there is a report that you're going to deploy your father again and President Clinton again to go out there and seek it. What is it you are expecting from them and will you get it?"
# "There was worry about the levees breaking, as we know, years before; and replacing New Orleans in a situation where you have to have massive expenditures in order to protect it. Do you want to see it in the same place?"
# "When are you going to go?"
# "Some people, Democratic critics, have begun to say that they were surprised that you didn't come back to the White House on Tuesday, and start to organize this cabinet meeting that you did yesterday."
# "I'm struck by the fact that the picture that we saw of you sitting and looking outside the plane at this disaster and the picture of 9/11 were so similar when you looked down. Very different emotions for you?"
# "The stampede in Iraq, the casualties there, the natural disaster that has taken place, do you feel the anxiety in the country now?"
For a very condensed summary of the interview, as posted by ABCNews.com.