After a nearly two-year absence from the public view, former President George W. Bush is back in a big way, with the release of his memoir "Decision Points" on Tuesday. Several bombshells from the book have already "leaked" out. Here are the top five:
The book opens with line:
It was a simple question: 'Can you remember the last day you didn't have a drink?''
Bush has not been shy about talking about his battle with the bottle. In a widely told story, Bush woke up the morning after his 40th birthday party at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs with an excruciating hangover. He knew he needed to stop. In the book, the ex-president writes that he had a "love affair" with alcohol, and asks the question:
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Could I continue to grow closer to the Almighty or was alcohol becoming my god?
He ultimately picked God, and says he has not had a drink since 1986.
2. Replacing Cheney
Bush reveals that he considered dropping Vice President Dick Cheney as his running mate in 2004. Bush said it was Cheney himself who first broached the idea, saying it would be a good way to dispel the common thought that Cheney was really running the country. Bush writes:
Accepting Dick’s offer would be one way to demonstrate that I was in charge. The more I thought about it, the more strongly I felt Dick should stay. I hadn’t picked him to be a political asset; I had chosen him to help me do the job. That was exactly what he had done.
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Cheney, of course, stayed on, and Bush won reelection.
3. Rift With Cheney Over Libby
However, Bush's relationship with Cheney had its rocky moments. Cheney was angry with the president during the final months of the administration over Bush's refusal to pardon Scooter Libby, Cheney's former chief-of-staff who was convicted of lying to a grand jury in the Valerie Plame scandal.
Bush had already commuted Libby's sentence, but Cheney didn't think that was enough. Cheney raged, "I can't believe you're going to leave a soldier on the battlefield."
Bush said he was concerned that their relationship was forever damaged, but he said the two are friends today.
4. Bush vs. McCain
Bush suggests that John McCain ran a poor campaign in 2008. For starters, Bush was shocked that McCain didn't ask him to campaign on his behalf:
I was confident I could have helped him make his case. But the decision was his. I was disappointed I couldn't do more to help him.
And he feels the financial crisis that began during the campaign could have been an opportunity for McCain to show leadership:
I thought the financial crisis gave John his best change to mount a comeback. In periods of crisis, voters value experience and judgment over youth and charisma. By handling the challenge in a statesmanlike way, John could make a case he was the better candidate for the times.
Instead, McCain briefly suspended his campaign, giving Obama the opportunity to describe McCain as "erratic." Bush also questions McCain's vice presidential choice of Sarah Palin.
5. Kanye West
And finally, there is Kanye West. During Hurricane Katrina, the outspoken singer said Bush doesn't care about black people. Bush called that the "low point" of his administration.
Five years later I can barely write those words without feeling disgust. I faced a lot of criticism as president. I didn’t like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all-time low.
One note: If Bush found Kanye West's comment disgusting and inaccurate, how could it really be the "low point" of his presidency? It's easy to play armchair quarterback years later, but doesn't 9/11 seem like the absolute low point of a man's tenture in the White House? Over 3,000 Americans died on a single day -- yet an off-the-cuff remark by a rapper ranks lower?