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Former President George W. Bush speaks for 1st time since leaving office

Former President George W. Bush spoke with NBC's Matt Lauer in an interview that aired on NBC last night. It's Bush's first one-on-one TV interview since leaving office.

The interview included two separate sessions, one recorded in the church where he started Bible study and married his wife Laura Bush. It was recorded last month, before the midterm elections.

You can watch the interview below, including Web extras such as Bush talking about almost losing Vice President Cheney's friendship for not pardoning "Scooter" Libby:

Some of the notable points from the interview:

  • Bush talks about going to the hospital with his mother after she had a miscarriage and seeing the fetus in a jar. Bush said he put that story in to show the trust his mother had for him, but Lauer also pressed him on how this led him to develop a pro-life view.
  • When Bush asked Dick Cheney to be his vice president, Cheney said that he has health issues and also told Bush that his daughter Mary is gay. Bush said that Cheney was testing Bush's tolerance. Bush said that choosing Cheney was a "very good" decision.
  • On September 11, 2001, Bush had given the order to shoot down any plane that didn't respond, and when United 93 went down, Bush was initially worried that it had been shot down due to that order before receiving word that this wasn't the case.
  • Cheney offered to let Bush run with a different vice president when running for re-election, but Bush rejected Cheney's offer and ultimately kept him on.
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered his resignation twice after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, but Bush didn't think there was someone else ready to step into that position.
  • Bush said that the worst moment of his presidency was when rapper Kanye West said he didn't care about black people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While he cited this as the worst moment, he said that the worst period in his presidency was the summer of 2006, when he thought for the first time that the war in Iraq might be lost.
  • Bush said that he still has a sickening feeling when he thinks about weapons of mass destruction not being found in Iraq.
  • Bush defended the TARP program. He said that he had been told there would likely be a depression if he didn't do something, and that he had to abandon his free market values to save the free market system.
  • He reiterated that he wouldn't criticize President Barack Obama. Bush said that he doesn't think it's good for the presidency for a former president to be opining about his successor. "President Obama's got plenty of critics, and I'm not gonna be one."

Bush also talked about other issues including Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, the "Mission Accomplished" banner, telling FEMA's Michael Brown that he was doing a "heck of a job" and defended the Bush administration's use of waterboarding.

Bush will return to NBC on Wednesday for a follow-up interview on the Today Show.

What did you find most interesting in President Bush's interview? Let us know in the comments.

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