Larry King to Bill Clinton: ‘You Almost Got Him’ [Bin Laden]

Bill Clinton’s appearance on Wednesday’s "Larry King Live" gave new life to the old nickname for CNN as the "Clinton News Network." Host Larry King fawned over Clinton during the 40-minute interview, asking the impeached former president questions on wide range of topics. King asked Clinton if Osama bin Laden was ever going to caught. After Clinton gave the standard Democrat line that not enough resources are being sent to Afghanistan in the hunt for the al Qaeda leader, King added, "You almost got him." Clinton answered affirmatively, and added that he "never had a chance to deploy large numbers of troops to Afghanistan."

During the first half-hour of the interview, King asked Clinton about Hillary and the criticism she has received over the years; the former president’s latest book, "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World;" his involvement in charitable causes; and forwarded two e-mail questions from viewers on his involvement in his wife’s presidential campaign and how he might help select her running mate. Clinton also answered what he thought of Fred Thompson and the rest of the Republican presidential field; and the upcoming report on Iraq from General Petraeus.

The first topic King asked about, however, set the tone for the entire interview. King asked Clinton about the recent sex scandal involving Senator Larry Craig. "Did you get any sense of satisfaction, since he [Craig] was such a critic of yours during the impeachment thing, and using terms very demeaning about you? Clinton answered in the negative, and explained, "Because when it was going on, I knew that, you know, a lot of them were outed for hypocrisy long before this. And everybody knew that -- every serious student of the Constitution -- knew that the whole thing was bogus, and that they were just jumping on a terrible personal mistake I made."

After the bottom-of-the-hour commercial break, King immediately brought up the lapel pin Clinton had on, and asked about an international fugitive.

LARRY KING: By the way, some people have -- they can't read the pin on your lapel.
CLINTON: Oh, it says 'Hillary.' My gosh, I probably should have taken it off before the TV show started, huh?

KING: No...
KING: Hillary two thousand...
KING: Eight. You know, you could have kept it on.
CLINTON: Well, I have got another one.
CLINTON: I will give you one for a keepsake. You don't have to wear it.
KING: I wonder how you have them. OK. Some other items.
CLINTON: I will put it on.
KING: Are we ever going to get Osama?
CLINTON: Well, not if we don't put the right resources into the right places.
KING: You almost got him.
CLINTON: I did. But I never had a chance to deploy large numbers of troops to Afghanistan. I think that we can. And I think it is very important. We shouldn't forget, here, this guy -- he and Dr. al-Zawahiri are responsible for the deaths of the Americans on 9/11. They are still trying to plot violent actions in the United States and all over the world. And that is another reason we can't lose in Afghanistan. If they have freedom of movement -- greater freedom of movement, the more freedom of movement they have, the more freedom they have to plot and contact and do things that might be damaging to us. So, another reason that I strongly feel, and I know Hillary strongly feels this way, that we have to withdraw troops this year, is that we need to beef up our presence in Afghanistan and get our allies to join us.

As his usual M.O., King didn’t ask a follow-up question, and went on to ask Clinton about the recent arrests in Germany in connection with a terror plot and about the war on terrorism in general.

The height of King’s fawning over Clinton came when the host asked, "Would you be happier if history said about you: Bill Clinton, a great philanthropist who happened to be president?" Clinton paused for a moment, and answered, "No. I would like to say that I was a president who left America and the world better off when I left than when I started, and that after I left office, I did my best to help organize people in -- as private citizens -- to do the same thing. And large numbers of people were better off when I stopped than when I started."

A live discussion of the Larry Craig scandal took up the last 15-minutes of King’s program. King’s guests during this discussion included Clinton political strategist James Carville; Michele Laxalt, a Republican strategist; Stacey Honowitz, the assistant state attorney for the state of Florida; Mark Geragos; and Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist.

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