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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Laura Bush

Aired May 11, 2010 - 21:00   ET




LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight -- Laura Bush, revealing a side of herself even her own children didn't know until now. Opening up about a tragedy and a guilt that's haunted her for decades, and the secrets she could tell only after leaving the White House.

Were the president and first lady poisoned on purpose at an official dinner?

She'll tell us about losing her faith and then finding it, and what she witnessed from her front-row seat to history -- next on LARRY KING LIVE.



KING: One week from tonight, we've got Mick Jagger.

Here for the hour right now, we welcome back former first lady, Laura Bush to LARRY KING LIVE. We spent many hours together, campaigning in the White House. And now, post-White House. Her new book is "Spoken from the Heart," a terrific read, published by Scribner's. There you see its cover.

You were such a private first lady. Wasn't this hard for you to do?

LAURA BUSH, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: It actually was not. It was really great to have a chance to do this.

I wanted it to be very candid. I wanted it to be revealing. And I knew there were a lot of gaps that what reporters asked me about, all those eight years we were there, you know, didn't cover some of the things that were in this book.

So, I had a great time writing it. I went back home to Midland when I started it. My mother still lives there, and went by all those houses my dad built. And the houses George and I lived in, and the schools we went to.

KING: Lived your life over. BUSH: That's right. And I really did and there's something cathartic about it because I saw things really for the first time with my vantage point, now, at my age -- a lot of things that happened to me when I was younger and still thought of them as a 17-year-old. But now, I could see them --


KING: Why -- why did you? You had a wonderful childhood and a lot of sadness. Why did you hold back all these years?

BUSH: Well, I mean, that was -- you know, no one ever asked. I mean, it was not really --

KING: No one ever asked you about it?

BUSH: No. So it wasn't really the thing to talk about. And people asked me about the car accident.

KING: Yes.

BUSH: I was asked about that when that became public in the 2000 race. But the things about having the little brothers and sisters that didn't live, you know, that was just something we didn't talk about that much. But when I started to write it, the book, I realized how much that had influenced my parents and how -- what a sadness it had been for them. And so, it was a sadness for me.

KING: How old were you?

BUSH: I was two when my mother lost the second -- her second child, my first little brother. And that's my first memory -- is looking through a nursery glass window at little western clinic in Midland. I don't remember seeing a baby. I just remember this big window that was actually inside a building, and knowing that my little brother was there.

KING: Is there a grave?

BUSH: There's -- he is just buried with the other babies, the other premature babies in Midland at a cemetery.

KING: What was it like for a little girl?

BUSH: Well, it was sad. And then when I was eight, my mother had another pregnancy, and when I was 13, she had another one. So, I knew always that that was their big sadness, that they didn't get to keep those three other babies and have a big family of four children. And so, it was for me, too. I wanted all those brothers and sisters.

KING: But it was an overall happy childhood, right?

BUSH: Very happy. I have very stable, loving parents that were funny and fun and great to be with. And, you know, that -- I knew always, I've always known what an advantage that is, to have parents who were like that. KING: Great to have a mother still around.

BUSH: That's right. And my mother will be 91 in July. And she's doing great, and she's still in Midland.

KING: Probably watching.

BUSH: I hope so.

KING: Now, you write about a tragedy, that accident. Now, explain that. I'm going to read a little from it.


KING: By the way, you can read from the book, too.

BUSH: OK. Great.

KING: Would you -- was he your boyfriend?

BUSH: No, he -- Mike Douglas was my very good friend.

KING: Mike Douglas?

BUSH: I had known him most of my life. We had known each other -- our families had been acquaintances, and we -- I had old movies when we were really young children with Mike in it. And then we'd been great friends through high school, talked on the phone almost every night.

And I was just driving with a friend to a drive-in movie, and we're on a very dark and two-lane road, which is now the big loop, the big freeway that circles Midland. And it ends in a highway, Big Spring highway, which also was probably two-lane at the time.

KING: And here's the way you write: "I was in the intersection, and immediately in front of me was another car. It came rushing out of the darkness, and I was right upon it without a second to turn the wheel. All I heard was the horrible sound of metal colliding, the catastrophic boom that occurs when two hard pieces of steel make contact." How old were you?

BUSH: Seventeen. I'd just turned 17 two days before.

KING: You had no idea who was in the other car?

BUSH: No, I didn't know who was in the other car. And I was thrown out of the car, but I got up. I was not badly injured at all. And my friend who was in the car with me, had stayed in the car. And she just got out and we stood to the side.

And we knew that the person who was in the other car was lying on the ground there. And in a few minutes, another car drove up, and a man rushed to the person who was lying there, and my friend Judy said, "I think that's the father of the person that's there".

KING: He was following him in the car?

BUSH: They lived right beyond this intersection. And I said, "Well, no, that can't be the father. That's Mr. Douglas."

KING: Jeez.

BUSH: And then when we got to the hospital and we just had the little cloth drape pull between where we were lying and where he was. And then I heard Mrs. Douglas.

KING: Isn't that the strangest of coincidences?

BUSH: It's strange -- it's strange and terrible coincidence. It really is. Really is.

KING: He died that night?

BUSH: He died instantly, I'm sure.

KING: And you said you lost faith.

BUSH: I did, because the whole time, I just kept saying, "Please, God, please, God, you know, let him be OK." And you know, it was like no one heard.

KING: Now, you -- there was no reason for guilt. You hadn't done anything wrong.

BUSH: Well, I mean, it was an accident. But still, of course, I felt terrible guilt. I mean, it was my fault. I ran the stop sign. I mean, I ran a stop sign I didn't see.

And, you know, I was a very unexperienced -- inexperienced driver, and on a dark road, and all those things. But still, it doesn't matter.

KING: The friend who was in the car with you, still a friend?

BUSH: Judy. Yes, very good friends still.

KING: The father, did he forgive you?

BUSH: I don't know that. I never went over to their house. My parents went over the next day, and visited with them. And then no one really ever suggested that I go see them.

KING: Really?

BUSH: And I know it ruined their life.

KING: Did you have any kind of depression?

BUSH: No, I don't know that I would say that. I didn't -- I dealt with it by trying not to think about it, by putting it out of my mind and not talking about it. And no one talked about it. My best friend and I would talk about it every once in a while. But no one suggested going to get help or talk to a pastor or, you know, talk to anyone. It was just how it was, really, in 1963 in west Texas where you just sort of swallowed your troubles and went on.

KING: How did you get your faith back?

BUSH: Well, it was slow. I mean, it was slow, and it was a long time coming. And, you know, it was more of a study of what faith is and what that means. And, you know, it just came slowly.

And, really, it was what the accident was a tragedy beyond belief for the Douglases and for Mike, who -- you know, whose life ended then, and then for me. And I learned the hard way that there are those kinds of tragedies that you can't do anything about ever; that you can't change, no matter how much you might want to.

KING: But your faith tells you he is still somewhere, isn't he?

BUSH: Well, my faith tells me that God forgives, and that -- you know, that there is a better place.

KING: Coming up: Marrying into the Bush family, and her wedding day. Extraordinary book, Laura Bush, "Spoken from the Heart."

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Laura Bush. The book "Spoken from the Heart," published by Scribner's, our special guest for the hour. Mick Jagger one week from tonight.

How did you meet George W.?

BUSH: Well, we actually grew up together in the same town not that far away from each other. Our houses were probably about 10 blocks apart. But we went to two separate elementary schools. And then we went only one year together to one year of junior high before the Bushes moved to Houston.

KING: How much older was he than you?

BUSH: He is my exact same age. So, 18, 19 years later, I was back in Midland visiting my parents, and George had moved back to go in the oil business, and some friends had invited us to come over to their house for dinner. They'd been sort of talking up George for a year or two because we were literally the last of their friends who weren't married. So, they put us together.

KING: What do you remember about the first meeting?

BUSH: Well, I remember that -- I remember a lot about it. I remember what I wore. I remember what Jan and Joey fixed. They fixed hamburgers in the backyard.

I remember how I thought George was very funny and he made me laugh. And then the next day, he called me and asked for a date. We went to a miniature golf course and played miniature golf.

KING: Was there an immediate attraction?

BUSH: There was, really. There was really. We were really ready. I mean, we were looking for somebody to share our life with.

KING: How long before you got married?

BUSH: Three months.

KING: Pretty quick.

BUSH: Yes. Very quick.

KING: Was there an engagement ring?

BUSH: No engagement ring. I just got the plain gold band. I did get the bigger ring later.

KING: There's a passage in the book about your wedding day -- if you'd like to read it.

BUSH: Sure. "The morning after my 31st birthday, I stepped into the chapel on my father's arm. George was waiting at the altar. The night before, when George stood to give his toast, he'd wept. George and his father are deeply sentimental men. In years to come, to others, the cool remote of television would frequently obscure the depth of their caring, how much, and how deeply their own hearts open. George Herbert Walker Bush didn't even try to give a toast. Only Bar spoke."

KING: You and Bar have had -- how would you describe that relationship?

BUSH: Well, we have a very loving relationship now.

KING: But?

BUSH: But when we first married, I just expected Bar to welcome me with open arms and to be treated like a daughter myself, like my mother did to George, of course, because I didn't have any brothers and sisters. But Bar had five children, and already had some grandchildren.

And it took a while for us to really develop a great relationship. And it happened when we moved to Washington in 1987 to work on Mr. Bush's campaign, on Gampy's campaign. And we lived in the same town and we lived up the street from them, just a mile up the street. And during that year and a half, we finally really got to know each other and love each other.

KING: Was she testy with you?

BUSH: I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that. She just had a lot of family members. And when we were together, before that, it would be in the summer when all the brothers and sisters and the grandchildren and everyone would be there, or it would be at a major high-profile event like a Republican convention or an inauguration, or, you know, some event where Gampy's political life was on the line.

So, when we got to know each other, we really got to love each other.

KING: I interviewed your husband during that convention in 1986.

BUSH: Yes, I remember that.

KING: You call him Gampy?

BUSH: You call Gampy. Now, that's just Gampy and Ganny, those are the names that the Bushes use for the grandparents.

KING: Do you still use them?

BUSH: Yes. Still, do.

KING: Tell me about the drinking.

BUSH: Well, George and I lived in Midland for the first 10 years that we were married. And the life there in west Texas had a lot of drinking. You know, drinking was a part of it. Our social life was to go out on the weekends, go out on Friday night usually with all of our friends to eat Mexican food. And the ladies would drink margaritas, and the men would drink beer. And the next night, on Saturday night, we'd go to somebody's house for dinner where, you know, we'd barbecue and people would bring hors d'oeuvres or whatever and we'd drink.

KING: You too?

BUSH: Us, too. I mean, everyone, women and men did. But I really thought that George drank too much, and I would notice it. And, you know, it might be funny. I say this in the book, when other people's husbands have too much to drink, but I didn't think it was funny when mine did. And so --

KING: And did he -- did you encourage him to get help?

BUSH: And so, I encouraged him. I put in the book that I didn't use the line, "It's Jim Beam or me." That was sort of a joke that came later. I wasn't about to divorce George.


BUSH: You know, we didn't have divorce in our DNA. Plus, I had baby twin girls and I wasn't going to be left with twins. But --


KING: But is it hard to live with an alcoholic?

BUSH: Well, I wouldn't say that he was really like that. I mean, it was heavy-drinking, but it was at night. And he worked and he was a very disciplined athlete. He ran every single day. And I just knew that he would like himself better if he quit.

And there were a number of things that happened. He -- we met Billy Graham the summer before in Maine. And then he -- some Midland men started a Bible study that he started going to. His dad was thinking about running for president.

And all of those things really worked to make George see that he didn't want to keep drinking.

KING: Weren't there some bad nights, though?

BUSH: Well, there were bad nights, but not -- you know, not really.

KING: You never wanted to split?

BUSH: No, no, I never wanted to split. I mean, we don't have divorce in our DNA.

KING: How did he stop?

BUSH: He just stopped. We went to the Broadmoor for our 40th birthday parties. All of us were turning 40 that year of our friends. And I used to joke that he got the bar bill, and that's when he stopped.

But I think there was really nothing different from that weekend from other weekends. We traveled with people and had a lot to drink. I think it was just one too many weekends.

And --

KING: More with Laura Bush.

BUSH: -- he can do it. It's hard to just stop like that.

KING: Whoa. Didn't go to A.A. or anything?

BUSH: Didn't do that.

KING: Could someone have tried to poison President Bush and Laura? We'll talk about that. Also about baseball -- ahead.


KING: We're with Laura Bush. She is now first lady. How did Hillary treat you, the outgoing first lady?

BUSH: Very well. She gave me a tour of the White House, after the election was finally decided, which you remember was 36 days after Election Day.

KING: What was that like?

BUSH: That was wild. They -- she gave me a tour and she was very forthcoming with advice, which I appreciated a lot. And we walked all over the White House and saw everything.

And one of the things she pointed out was the window from the upstairs dressing room, the first lady's dressing room that looks down on to the Rose Garden. And she said that Barbara Bush had pointed that window out to her, and that she had -- Bar had said, you know, if there's an event in the Rose Garden where the president was speaking, she would look out that window or look over in the office. And then Hillary told me that.

And so, when I gave Michelle Obama the tour, I passed on the -- you know, this is the window to look out.

KING: What is it like to live there?

BUSH: It's really unbelievable to live there. It's such a magnificent house and so many reminders of all the different families that have lived there. You live with their decorating. You live with their furniture. You live with their choices of art.

And there is something really comforting about that because you are always aware when you live there, the challenges that other families who lived there faced. A lot faced tragic -- you know, their own personal tragedies like the death of Willie Lincoln or Calvin Coolidge's son who died while they lived there. Or, you know, the challenges our country faced while they lived there.

And in those days after September 11th, when we would think about other times that our country had faced challenges, that was comforting and encouraging to us.

KING: Do you feel like a renter or an owner?

BUSH: No, you know that it's your -- that it's a temporary home. But you also feel like you're the steward of it and that it's your responsibility to make sure that it's kept up and looks great, and, you know, is lovely and welcoming to whoever comes to visit.

KING: I remember talking with you at length about 9/11 when you were in the White House. And I remember talking to Ted Kennedy. Of course, the two of you shared 9/11. You were with him.

BUSH: That's right.

KING: Tell me.

BUSH: I was with -- I was on my way to Capitol Hill to brief the Senate Education Committee, Senator Kennedy's committee, on early childhood education that morning. And really, which was one of the goals I had set for myself as first lady. And so I was on the way there when my Secret Service agent leaned over to me and said a plane has just flown into the World Trade Center. We went ahead to Capitol Hill because when we heard about the first plane, we just had no idea what would transpire later.

But by the time we got to the Capitol, we knew about the second plane. And so, we knew that it was an attack. And so, I went to Senator Kennedy's office, and he kept up a steady stream of small talk. He showed me mementos that he had in his room. He showed me the photographs that he had on his wall.

KING: Didn't talk about --

BUSH: And really didn't even discuss it. And I speculated about that many times. I've wondered if that was just how he wanted to deal with the tragedy, because he had had so many tragedies in his own life, or if he thought I would fall apart if we started to talk about it.

And really, when I think about it, and when I wrote the book, I thought about this, what would we have said except just -- oh no, oh no, oh no, you know, over and over.

KING: So, you didn't discuss it all?

BUSH: So, in a lot of ways, it gave me some space.

KING: And you didn't discuss it at all?

BUSH: We didn't. But then we went out to the press. And we told the press we discussed it then and said to the press that we were just postponing the briefing to the committee, that I -- we would come back and do it later. And I did later, the next January.

So, we discussed it then with the press. And one of the things the press said to me, Larry McQuillan said as we were turning to walk away at the end of the little press briefing was -- he said, "Mrs. Bush, what do you say to the children?" And that really is when I thought that I did know what to say to children.

And I knew how to encourage children. And I knew what parents should do -- should turn off the television so their children wouldn't see those buildings fall over and over, those planes go into those buildings over and over.

KING: What was it like for you to see it?

BUSH: It was terrible. I mean, I felt sick. And Judd Gregg -- Senator Judd Gregg, who is a close friend of ours, joined Senator Kennedy and me. And, you know, Judd and I would just sort of look at each other and we both looked sick, I think, because we knew what it meant. It meant just a change of everything.

KING: How soon did you talk to the president?

BUSH: I talked to him a little bit later after I had gone to the secure location that the Secret Service took me to. And that's also one of the really surprising things for George and me that day was how spotty the communication was and how when we would have expected instant communication in a crisis like that, we didn't really have it.

KING: Had trouble talking?

BUSH: Had trouble calling back and forth. He had trouble -- he had trouble calling from Air Force One. I couldn't reach him. And we did, of course, reach each other and talk to each other, but after several tries.

KING: Were you wondering where he was or --

BUSH: Well, I knew where he was. And I knew he was in Florida. And then I thought he was on his way to Washington. And then by the time I talked to him, I knew they had left for -- I think they went to Louisiana and then maybe to that Nebraska to that --

KING: But he was home that night, right?

BUSH: But he came home that night.

KING: What was that night like?

BUSH: Well, that night I went into the bunker. They had brought me back to the White House. And I went to bunker, and Lynne and Dick Cheney were there and Condi Rice was there. And Lynne came over to me and said that the plane that had flown in the Pentagon had circled the White House. And then George got there and came in and we hugged.

I don't really remember what we said to each other. I think we just hugged each other, and we knew we were safe and our girls were safe. But, you know, all we could think about were the hundreds and thousands of people who couldn't say the same about their loved one.

KING: The Secret Service want you'd to sleep underground at the White House. George wanted to sleep in his own bed, though.

BUSH: That's right.

KING: Because?

BUSH: Because he knew he had to get some sleep. And that he just needed to sleep that night because we both knew what lay before us. And what -- you know, everything had changed, that it changed for his presidency and for our country.

KING: Read from this, a selection here about that night.

BUSH: "So he had said, 'You know, we're going to sleep upstairs in the bedroom, but if you need to, come get us.' So, that night, I could hear somebody after we went to sleep, I woke up and I heard a man screaming as he ran, 'Mr. President, Mr. President, you've got to get up. The White House is under attack.' We jumped up out of the bed again, and I grab my robe and stuck my feet in my slippers, but I didn't stop to put on my contacts.

George grabbed Barney, I grabbed Kitty. And with Spot trailing behind, we started walking down to the PEOC. George had wanted to take the elevator, but the agents didn't think it was safe. So, we had to descend flight after flight of stairs to the state floor, then the ground floor and below.

While I held George's hand because I couldn't see anything, my heart was pounding and all I could do is count stairwell landings, trying to count off in my mind how many more floors we had to go. When we reached the PEOC, I saw the outline of a military sergeant unfolding the ancient hideaway bed and putting on some sheets. At that moment, another agent ran up to us and said, 'Mr. President, it's one of ours. It's one of our own.'"

KING: You weren't being attacked.

BUSH: That's right. It was the plane, the military CAP that flew over Washington for a long time after that, after September 11th.

KING: In those days no fly anywhere, no.

BUSH: Yes.

KING: Iraq, the war, criticism over her husband must have been tough for Laura to hear. It's all ahead. Stay with us.


KING: We're back with Laura Bush, the former First Lady. The book is "Spoken From the Heart." Before we talk about Iraq, do you like being a baseball wife's owner?

BUSH: I did love it.

KING: The wife of an owner.

BUSH: That's right. I loved those years. That was really fun when we owned the Texas Rangers and went to probably 50 baseball games a summer in Dallas. I loved that. Barbara and Jenna were just in elementary school, and it was really fun. Baseball is a family business. So is politics, actually. The whole family is involved.

KING: Good comparison. Does he watch them now, the Rangers?

BUSH: He watches the Rangers now, of course, every single night.

KING: I bet. The decision to hit Iraq, did he every waiver? You were with him through all of it. Did he ever have doubts?

BUSH: I'm sure he had doubts. He didn't discuss those sort of things with me really.

KING: He didn't?

BUSH: I saw him walk on the lawn every night with Spot. And I knew he was just worried, and didn't know, you know, if he was making the right decision. But all of the intelligence that everyone had, that everyone said -- and you know, Saddam Hussein had defied 17 U.N. Security Council Resolutions. So --

KING: It's hard certainly for a president to send someone to die. What is it like for a First Lady?

BUSH: It's hard. It really is. I mean, it's a constant worry. We are always worried about our troops. Every day we worried about them. And a lot of times at night -- and I write this in the book -- I would get in bed and I would be in my comfortable bed, with wonderful covers, and I'd feel guilty thinking about our troops who were sleeping on the sand in Afghanistan or Iraq. Nearly every night I would think that. And then one time I was with some troops at Ft. Bragg, and we were having lunch. And I said that. I told them that at night I worry about them and felt guilty when I got in bed. And they said oh, Ms. Bush, we're where we want to be. This is where we want to be.

KING: Did you talk to family members of people who lost their lives?

BUSH: Sure.

KING: Wasn't that hard to do?

BUSH: Very hard to do. We met with family members all the time, especially during the 2004 campaign, when we were campaigning and traveling all over the united states. when we were, you know, in any state for a political event, we would meet with the family members, the local families who had lost someone.

KING: you avoided the press a lot when you met with --

BUSH: Well, we didn't do that for the press. That's a private thing. You know, you wouldn't do that for the press.

KING: what were the days like when all the criticism was starting to happen to your husband, for you? What was it like for you?

BUSH: Tough, you know. I hated the criticism of him. Any wife would. Anyone would hate that. But also, it was something I knew, and I knew to expect it. That was one of the reasons I had had a hesitation about even running when George decided to run, when we lived at the Texas governor's mansion, because we had seen someone in that job that we love very much, and we had seen the way he was criticized and characterized in a way that he wasn't at all.

And I knew that that's the risk you run. And that's just what happens in American politics. And that's actually one of the great things about American politics. That is what happens, and people are free to criticize the president.

KING: But in your book, you show some anger toward Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

BUSH: I didn't like, you know, what was really ended up being personal comments about George. And I don't appreciate that. And I think it demeans the office that they're in.

KING: They were personal --

BUSH: To make those sort of comments about the president of the United States. I don't think it's constructive. I know that there are other speakers and other leaders who have been of different parties with the president who can have a collegial relationship. And I think George would never do that. He would never call people names, the speaker or the leader names. He knows that he has more of a responsibility.

KING: How did he take the criticism?

BUSH: He shrugged it off. He couldn't -- you know, he couldn't make decision based on popularity. No one would want the president to just make decisions that were popular. And he couldn't abandon Iraq. He couldn't just withdraw from Iraq and abandon Iraq to terrorists.

KING: Did he ever lose sleep?

BUSH: Not really. I mean, you know, he worried. Did he worry, sure. Absolutely. We all worried every day. We worried about the safety of our country. We wanted -- we didn't -- we wanted to do everything we could so we wouldn't have another terrorist attack. You know, there is just a big burden of worry when you live there.

KING: Gay marriage, abortion, poison, talk about that ahead.


KING: Before we get to some major social issues, what was that poison story in Germany?

BUSH: We were in Helvendime (ph), Germany for the G-8, and I got sick. I was the first one sick. And then George got sick. And what we got was a sort of vertigo. But I felt --

KING: Same dinner?

BUSH: Well, we didn't really get sick at a dinner. I got sick one day, and the next morning George woke up and felt sick. So the Secret Service, with an abundance of caution, and the people that were there, other security people, started to look at all the food, including the European press was very fascinated with it. What happened, what we decided -- what the doctors decided was that we had all gotten a virus that attacks a nerve very close to the inner ear. So you had the symptoms of vertigo and nausea and other symptoms you would have if you had an inner ear poison.

KING: You were not poisoned.

BUSH: We were not poisoned. You'll be glad to know we weren't. But anyway, there was high speculation because there had just been those high-profile poisonings in Europe.

KING: Vertigo could drive you nuts.

BUSH: That's right.

KING: Lose your balance. Gay marriage, you tell us in the book that during the 2004 campaign you talked to George about not making it a significant issue. Do you think we should have it? BUSH: Well, I think we ought to definitely look at it and debate it. I think there are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman. But I also know that, you know, when couples are committed to each other and love each other, that they ought to have I think the same sort of rights that everyone has.

KING: So would that be an area where you disagreed?

BUSH: I guess that would be an area that we disagree. I mean, I understand totally what George thinks and what other people think about marriage being between a man and a woman. And it's a real, you know, reversal really for that to accept gay marriage.

KING: But you do?

BUSH: But I think we could, yeah. I think it's also a generational thing.

KING: You think it's coming?

BUSH: Yeah, that will come, I think.

KING: How about choice?

BUSH: That was the -- I write in the book about the very first question I got on the morning of George's inauguration, from Katie Couric, who asked me two questions about abortion. That was the social issue in 2000 that everyone got asked about. And then I think gay marriage was the social issue in 2004. And I was say probably in the more recent election as well.

She asked me if -- she asked two questions about abortion, and then she asked me if I was for the overturn of Roe versus Wade. And sort of everything went through my mind. This was the very morning my husband was about to be inaugurated. And I thought, do I really want to start my husband's presidency, you know, suggesting that a Supreme Court rule being overturned. And I said no.

And I think it's important that it remain legal, because I think it's important for people, for medical reasons and other reasons.

KING: So you -- that would be two areas of disagreement.

BUSH: Uh-huh.

KING: But you weren't so expressive during the White House day.

BUSH: About those issues, you mean?

KING: Yeah.

BUSH: No, not really. I talked about those issues. I was asked about those issues a lot. Not so much about abortion, but in the 2004 election, a lot about gay marriage. That was the social issue that really animated that election, I think. KING: When you discuss it with your husband, is it argumentative?

BUSH: No. Not at all. I mean --

KING: He understands?

BUSH: Yeah, and I understand his viewpoint. I really do. I understand his viewpoint. And he understands mine.

KING: What are the days like for Laura and George now, out there in Texas on the ranch.

BUSH: Lying in hammock.

KING: Life water the White House, baseball on the radio. Don't go away.



KING: We're back with Laura Bush. We have a Tweet question. You Twitter too, right? You're LauraWBush on Twitter.

BUSH: That's right.

KING: OK, our Tweet question: did it ever get lonely being First Lady?

BUSH: I guess there were some lonely moments, especially late in the afternoon when I didn't have any errands to run, any dinners to cook, when everything was done for me, that I would be waiting for George to come home from the Oval Office. But we are very fortunate to have lots of friends, and family. We had Marvin Bush and his wife Margaret lived close to us, and Daro, George's sister and her husband, Bobby, lived very close to us. So we saw them a lot.

And then lots of our -- we have the same friends from having grown up in Midland, and then from all our years of marriage.

KING: You have high school friends?

BUSH: High school friends.

KING: What do you miss the most about it? The trappings?

BUSH: I've been laughing and saying the chef.


BUSH: But I miss -- you know, I miss the beautiful house. I miss the people that work there, the butlers and the ushers, and everyone that you really do get to know very well. But also, eight years is a long time to live in that beautiful house. And I'm in Dallas. KING: By the way, it's time for another one of our top Larry King moments. Tonight's pick involves presidential appearances. Every United States president since Nixon has been on our show. Take a look back.


KING: I like doing presidents because you can't get any higher than that.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody who considers the job of the presidency and doesn't think it's a little daunting probably hasn't been paying attention.

KING: So smart. He's really smart. The book is still out, but I like him. Ford, regular guy, chip off the old block.

GERALD FORD, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was saddened because a friend was taking a very dramatic step, but the facts were there and he had no choice.

KING: Is it hard to drive by the Watergate?

RICHARD NIXON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I've never been in the Watergate. So it's not a hard --

KING: Never been in?

NIXON: Other people were in there, unfortunately.

BUSH: Nixon, brilliant, pondering, great interview. He can tell you about everything and sum it up right in front of you.

Carter, bright, inward, intellectual.

JIMMY CARTER, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't have any doubt that God answers all the prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no. And sometimes the answer is, you got to be kidding.

KING: Things don't look great sometimes. People are kind of down. Does it ever get to you to say, maybe I was wrong.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. I'm absolutely convinced it was.

KING: George Bush, great to talk to when you get light with him, baseball, stuff like that, loose. George bush the first, one of the regular guys of all time.

Being a former president, seeing your name on buildings, what do you think?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I see these things, it's great. BUSH: You landed at George Bush.

G H.W. BUSH: I hear the pilot say, George Bush, and we know that.

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't be an actor without liking people. They're your stock and trade. You are out to please them.

KING: Hale Hardy (ph), a great storyteller. Clinton, responsive, persuasive, sharp, bright.

What was it, some sort of inner thing in you, get up off the floor, the comeback kid approach?

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All my life, I was raised to believe that you should never give in, never give up. When somebody hits you and knocks you down, you are supposed to get up, not give up.

KING: Can't top that.


KING: We need you to help us choose the top five moments in my 25 years here at CNN. We'll count them down beginning May 31st, our silver anniversary week. Go to, and make your pick. And while you're at it, register to win a trip to Los Angeles, meet me, see the show live. We'll have dinner together.

Our remaining moments with Laura Bush after this.


KING: Laura Bush, "Spoken From the Heart." One week from tonight, Mick Jagger. You a Stones' fan?

BUSH: I am.

KING: You like the Stones? What do you think of Mick?

BUSH: I don't know Mick, but I like the Stones.

KING: You're into that music. So there's a little youthfulness going on here.

BUSH: I wouldn't say it's that youthful. It was popular in my youth.

KING: How do you account for their popularity?

BUSH: I think they just have a sound people like, and charisma that appeals to people.

KING: We have a funny item from the book. The royal family is not without its quirks. "When Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, came to visit us, they requested glasses of ice before we began a long receiving line. The staff dutifully produced them and the prince removed a flask from his pocket and added to each a small splash of what I presume was straight gin, so that they might be fortified before the hour or more of shaking hands."

BUSH: I just presumed it was straight gin. I don't know what it was.

KING: It wasn't water.

What's next? I understand you're working with your husband on the institute, the George W. Bush Institute?

BUSH: That's right. It's going to be part of the Bush Library. It will be at SMU. We already started the institute programming. I hosted in March the US/Afghan Women's Council, because I want to continue working to support Afghan women, and to make your that the Taliban doesn't reverse their progress that they've been able to make so far. This was a conference I hosted that focused on literacy for girls and women in Afghanistan.

KING: The library will be --


KING: Your alma mater?

BUSH: That's my alma mater. Right there in Dallas. Central Express Way and Mocking Bird, I think it's going to be great.

KING: How is it progressing?

BUSH: Very well. We should break ground in November. The architect is working on construction plans right now. They're due in October. We're excited. We've already started a lot of the programming that has to do with the institute. We hosted a couple weeks ago a cyber dissidents conference, for people -- dissidents around the world, the ways they can use the Internet to get above their tyrannical government.

We had people there from Iran and China and Russia and Cuba and Venezuela. It's a way for George and I to continue to work on policy without being involved in politics. And, as you've noticed, George is not making political comments.

KING: He's writing his book?

BUSH: He's writing his book.

KING: Have you spoken to the current First Lady?

BUSH: I have, just when gave her the tour and we saw each other at Ted Kennedy's funeral. But, no, not really.

KING: What do you make of the president so far? BUSH: I'm watching with great interest. I know what that job is like. I know how demanding it is. What comes on the desk of the president, which is every single problem in the world. But I'm enjoying my private life at home.

KING: Formers, though, tend to sympathize with their predecessors.

BUSH: That's right. It's sort of like a club. You know what it's like. There's a way to have empathy.

KING: There ain't many in it.

BUSH: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot, Larry.

KING: Laura Bush, "Spoken From the Heart." One week from tonight, she's a fan, Mick Jagger is here. Right now, time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?