In advance of tonight’s one-hour primetime special on NBC, Matt Lauer teased more of his pre-taped interview with George W. Bush this morning on Today. Sitting in the church where he married his wife, Bush told Lauer that his faith helped him decide to quit drinking cold turkey after his 40th birthday. “I was a drinker. Now I wasn’t a knee-walkin’ drunk,” Bush says. Oh, how we’ve missed his turn of phrase. He was a habitual drinker who’s certain would never have become president had he not stopped, because alcohol made his quick tongue “not only quick, but caused me to be stupid.” Lauer says he’ll give an example of that in the full interview, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
Bush also discussed his controversial decision to commute the sentence of Scooter Libby, saving Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff from prison. In Bush’s memoir, on shelves Tuesday, he says Cheney was angry he didn’t give Libby a full pardon, and told him, “I can’t believe you’re gonna leave a soldier on the battlefield.” Did Bush and Cheney’s relationship ever recover? “I’m pleased to report, it has…. We are friends today,” Bush says. “I was a little concerned at one time,” he added with a laugh.