World News anchor Diane Sawyer scored an exclusive interview with George W. Bush for Wednesday's program. Sawyer used the opportunity to pester the former president about gay marriage, prompting, "One of the issues in the party in which there seems to be some shift taking place among senators is gay marriage."
After playing a clip of Laura Bush endorsing same sex marriage, the anchor pressed as to whether Mr. Bush was "ready to weigh in." The ex-President demurred and the reporter pushed, "Not going to say if you've changed your position too?" (How often do journalists push Democrats to move to the right on an issue?) Earlier in the segment, Bush took a shot at journalists. [For that, see video below. MP3 audio here.]
After Sawyer wondered, "Do you miss all of us," the Republican retorted, "No. Well, I miss you as a person, but I don't miss your profession."
On the subject of Iraq, the anchor reminded, "I noticed that you say in the exhibit no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were found...Fifty eight percent of the people saying it was not worth it [invading Iraq] in their view."
When then-World News anchor Peter Jennings hosted an hour-long special in 2004 on former Bill Clinton's legacy, he praised the Democrat's record as "full of accomplishment" and lauded Clinton as "hugely popular." (Yet, still Clinton got mad after Jennings for daring to bring up the Monica Lewinsky scandal.)
A partial transcript of the April 24 World News segment is below:
DIANE SAWYER: Back here in Dallas, we're at the George W. Bush library and he and Mrs. Bush are going to weigh in on the news and their lives in private as the library is about to open. He has been off stage, away from reporters, in silence. But tonight he sits with Mrs. Bush as we ask him from everything from terrorism to the next election. Mr. President, great to be interviewing you again. Did you miss all of us?
GEORGE W. BUSH: No. Well, I miss you as a person, but I don't miss your profession.
SAWYER: Why am I not surprised by that?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, you know, I had all the fame I needed. I decided to stay out of the limelight, because one I'm comfortable with that decision. And, two, I don't really want to undermine our president. And, frankly the only way for me to generate any news is to either criticize the president or criticize my party. I'm not interested in doing either.
SAWYER: The former president remembering what it is like in the crucible. Last week the President of 9/11, watching the President of the bombings in Boston.
SAWYER: A year and a half after 9/11, he ordered the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The museum acknowledges no weapons of mass destruction were found. Iraq. I noticed that you say in the exhibit no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were found.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Right. That's-- So, we're just laying out the facts. And that was a fact.
SAWYER: 58 percent of the people saying it was s not worth it in their view.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I can't remember the numbers, but 58 percent of the people initially said it was worth it. I think the removal of Saddam Hussein was the right decision for, not only our own security and giving people the chance to live in a free society. As far as I'm concerned, the debate is over. I mean, I did what I did and historians will ultimately judge those decisions.
SAWYER: And in an unusual approach, the museum actually asks the visitors to make those decisions, too. You're given fast-moving information and a clock counting you down to do it fast.
GEORGE W. BUSH: The purpose of the museum is not to herald me, necessarily, but to explain different events and to show people what it's like to make decision.
SAWYER: One of the issues in the party in which there seems to be some shift taking place among senators is gay marriage. We know that Mrs. Bush has weighed in.
LAURA BUSH: They ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not --
SAWYER: Ready to weigh in?
GEORGE W. BUSH: No, but thank you per trying.
SAWYER: Not going to say if you've changed your position too?
GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not weighing in on issues. I mean, there's-- you're either in or out. And I understand your job and you're doing a fine job of doing your job. But I really made the decision to not be a part of dealing with these current issues.