Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Democrats in Danger?; Interview With Laura Bush

Aired May 14, 2010 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, a stunning, truly stunning, an estimate of the size of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. One expert saying close to 3 million gallons of crude oil may be gushing out of that well each day. We'll get the very latest on the disaster from the coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen.

Also, dark clouds on the political horizon for some Democratic incumbents. Will they survive next week's primary elections? Candy Crowley and John King are both standing by live. They will give us their insight into some critical races.

And my candid one-on-one interview with the former first lady of the United States, Laura Bush -- her surprising views on abortion, gay marriage, and what she hated about her public image.

I'm Wolf Blitzer on the CNN Express here in Dallas, Texas. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There's new concern that the oil disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico right now may be much worse than previously thought and much worse than BP is admitting. Experts analyzing new video of the gusher say it could be spewing as much as 70,000 barrels a day.

That's close to three million gallons. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spilled a total of 250,000 barrels.

CNN's Brian Todd asked a BP official in charge of the spill to respond to that and a lot more -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, BP is under serious criticism these days for its actions before the explosion and the way it's handled the aftermath. So, we spared no ammunition when we met with the top BP official in charge of the response.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Under intense public pressure, his company's desperately trying to stop this gusher, at the same time, fending off charges that it doesn't have its act together.

We put some tough questions to BP managing director Bob Dudley, one of the top officials coordinating spill response. (on camera): You first said it was 1,000 barrels a day and you had it under control. Then you said it was 5,000 barrels a day and you were struggling to control it, and then we hear about all these different options that we're trying. None of them seem to work. Why should anyone believe what you guys are saying about this anymore?

BOB DUDLEY, BP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, early days, we were getting the data, looking at the flow rates and looking at the satellite data, and, collectively, there was an estimate of 1,000 barrels a day. We now have raised that estimate consistently for some time. Again, it's not a BP estimate. It's a unified command center with NOAA and the Coast Guard.

Since the very first day of the spill, we have put together and brought together from the industry the best engineers and scientists together with the U.S. government to work at multiple tracks and options to try to solve a problem that we have never seen before.

TODD: You say you have got the best minds on this. You have got the technology to -- to do the drilling and to get down that far in the first place, but seemingly don't have the technology or the plan in place to stop something like this. Why not?

DUDLEY: Well, the oil and gas industry has been drilling in deep water for 20 years. This is a new and different accident. The blowout preventers didn't work. No one ever expected that.

TODD (voice-over): Dudley rejected the claim by a university professor that this riser is leaking up to 70,000 barrels oil a day, far more than BP's estimate of 5,000, which they're still sticking to.

DUDLEY: That number is not accurate at all, 70,000 barrels a day.

TODD (on camera): There's no way it could be accurate? I mean, there's a huge disparity here. It couldn't be somewhere between 5,000 and 70,000?

DUDLEY: You can look at the amount of oil that's coming up on the surface with the satellites. We can measure the pressure -- pressure drops at the top of the BOP and what's coming out.

That photograph really does need a little -- a little ruler next to it to give you a sense of the size, because the photographs make it look, you know, bigger than it physically is. And, again, you take into account the expansion nature of the gas and the crude, a lot of it evaporates. It's a light sweet crude, low sulfur crude. And that 70,000 barrels a day isn't anywhere I think within the realm of possibility now.

TODD (voice-over): Now they're trying an insertion tube into the riser. If that doesn't work, a top hat funnel will be lowered on top of it. They're always clogging the blowout preventer with junk. And they're bringing in a relief well, which is weeks away.

(on camera): There's nothing in your mind that says maybe none of this will work and that would be the absolute worst-case scenario?

DUDLEY: Brian, no, no. We will stop this leak.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Dudley says, once that's done, they're going to -- quote -- "forensically take this apart," examine every part of this drill rig operation, and he says the industry as a whole will learn from this and will add redundancies, more safeguards, better plans to make sure this doesn't happen again -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They have got to do something, Brian. You have some clarification in the next steps they're taking to try to cap this well.

TODD: That's right. We have got some animation to show that.

This weekend, they are going to bring in an insertion tube and this is how it works. We saw some of this in the piece. We're going to -- they are going to insert it here. This is kind of flanked by a gasket here, where they are going to bring it in, try to basically shut off the flow that way, and it will act as a straw, taking the oil up to the surface, where there are ships waiting there to carry it away.

That's going to happen this weekend. If that doesn't work, they're going to try something else. We're going to show you another animation to kind of clarify everything they're doing here. This is -- that's where that's going to be taking place. OK? That's where the insert tube will be inserted and try to funnel it up there.

If that doesn't work, they are going to bring in this top hat, bring it in and kind of lower it over there. They tried to do that with the bigger dome last weekend. It didn't work. They think that if the insertion doesn't work, the top hat might have the same effect.

Now, that junk shot that everybody's talking about with the tires and the golf balls inserted into it, that's actually going to go here into the blowout preventer. The blowout preventer is sitting above the wellhead, which is leaking less oil. They are going to try to cap that wellhead.

But most of the oil is in the riser -- 85 percent of it's here. That's why they're trying the insertion tube and possibly that top hat this weekend, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, let's hope something works. Let's -- let's pray, in fact. Thank you very much. The stakes are enormous, Brian.

For more on the real size of the leak and BP's credibility at this point, let's head to the front line of the Gulf disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now from Biloxi, Mississippi, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen. Admiral, is it 5,000 barrels a day that's spewing out, 50,000 barrels a day, 70,000 barrels a day? We're confused right now, based on all these reports.

ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: Well, Wolf, I heard the same reports, too.

If I could just comment it in this regard, whether it's 1,000 or 5,000 barrels a day or 50,000 barrels a day, we have planned from the start for a catastrophic spill, so we have not been constrained in our planning by the fact that it was 5,000 barrels or some other number.

And I will tell you this. The only information we have from the bottom there is video from the remotely operated vehicles. There's no human access to that point of discharge. And I think we need to be very, very wary about any estimates. We need to plan for a worst-case scenario, and that's what we have been doing on the surface.

BLITZER: So, right now we don't know how many barrels a day are spewing out of there?

ALLEN: Well, Wolf, we got a two-dimension -- two-dimensional picture on video and we got some people working on it, trying to figure out what the total might be. But in the meantime, if we wait to figure out how much is coming out of it, we're not going to be conducting a response on the order that we think we need to.

So, we have always erred on the side that this could be a catastrophic spill and we planned in that regard.

BLITZER: Commandant, do you have confidence in the executives at BP, that they're telling you the truth, that they're telling you everything they know?

ALLEN: I'm in frequent communication with the executives in BP, Wolf. In fact, I just talked to Tony Hayward this afternoon regarding the current operations and putting the top hat and the pipe into the riser pipe.

There are talks about sequencing, sharing technical information. As you know, Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu were down there recently, and we have actually provided technical equipment from the Department of Energy. So, there's a lot of interplay.

I would say our interaction with them is relentless, relentless in our oversight and relentless in our expectations. And, when I need to, I communicate directly with the CEO.

BLITZER: So, basically, you think they're cooperating?

ALLEN: We know what they're going to do. They have a timeline. They publish it every day to us. We keep track of it. And Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano and I are right on top of it, Wolf,

BLITZER: The other rigs, the other oil rigs similar to the one that exploded, basically, they're still operational right now. Are you confident that they are safe?

ALLEN: Well, Wolf, that's more of a regulatory matter for Minerals Management Service to take care of, and I believe they're addressing it, and I defer to them for comment.

I think everybody across the regulatory community is looking at what they own -- at what they own as part of this. And, of course, we will, too, because we own the regulation of the ships that were floating above.

BLITZER: The other day, when we spoke, you said it could be August, worst-case scenario, before this -- this -- the oil stops flowing from this hole, basically. Are you more or less hopeful today than you were the other day that this can be resolved long before August?

ALLEN: Well, Wolf, in the longest term, without any other fix, it's going to be the relief well, the relieving of pressure and capping the well that will solve this thing permanently.

But, in the meantime, we're trying to attack the leakage that's going on, both mitigating the leaks that are under way and trying to terminate the leaks. That's what's going on right now. The top hat alternative and plus drilling a pipe into the marine riser would seriously mitigate the leakage and help keep it under control and put less water -- excuse me -- less oil on the surface.

We're also very close to a final decision on the use of dispersants at the seafloor, which would mitigate the amount of oil that gets to the surface. That pends a review on protocols for testing, because we have never had extensive dispersant use at the seafloor.

Following that, there are three things that are being prepared to take place in the next week or so, by the 18th next week. One is the top kill or the shot in that puts debris into the blowout preventer. A second one would be to cut the marine riser, because now we understand the pressure at the top, and put a valve on that would actually seal it, and, finally, to actually just put another blowout preventer on top of the current one.

All six of those things are happening in parallel. When one is ready to go, we do it. We're not giving up on all of them. And there's a collection of six things that could help us either mitigate the leaks or achieve success within the next week.

BLITZER: These next six days will be critical. Good luck, Commandant. We appreciate what you're doing.

ALLEN: Thank you, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's next with "The Cafferty File."

Also, this: Does Laura Bush support same-sex marriage? She speaks from the heart in my one-on-one interview with her today here in Dallas.

Then, the final mission of the space shuttle Atlantis, we're there for the historic launch.

And all political eyes are on three critical primaries coming up this Tuesday. John King and Candy Crowley are here with a look at these high-stakes races.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, you know, it's Friday night, and I have to confess I just couldn't help myself.

It was announced this week that Sarah Palin's second book will be out this fall. Oh, goody. The publisher says that, among other things, it will contain Ms. Palin's favorite literature and poetry.

Now, if memory serves me correctly -- and it does -- back when she was destroying John McCain's chances to be president by doing those self-destructive interviews with Katie Couric on "The CBS Evening News," Couric asked her what newspaper she read on a regular basis in order to keep abreast of current events.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: I've read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

COURIC: But like what ones specifically, I'm curious, that you...

(CROSSTALK)

PALIN: All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name...

(CROSSTALK)

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAFFERTY: Now we're being asked to believe that a woman who could not name a single newspaper that she read while aspiring to the second highest office in the land has an appetite for literature and poetry. Sarah Palin's making a naked grab for all the money she can get her hands on. And that's fine. They all do that. That's why she quit in the middle of her term as governor of Alaska.

But stop playing us all for rubes who fell off the truck when a carnival passed through town. Here's the question: What do you think is Sarah Palin's favorite literature?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, get ready. You're going to get a ton of e- mail on this one, Jack. I know you are.

All right, Super Tuesday's coming up this coming Tuesday, and we're going to be watching some critically close primary races in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas.

Let's talk about that with our senior political correspondent and the host of "STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY" -- that would be Candy Crowley -- and CNN's John King. He's the host of "JOHN KING, USA," which comes up right at the top of the hour.

And, John, first to you.

Are these contests on Tuesday going to be the result -- the outcomes of these contests going to be the result of angry voters out there or the individual candidates and their specific differences?

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Well, it's a combination of the two. But I think it is a test of the power of anti-incumbent sentiment out there, in the sense that you have Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, a Republican-turned-Democrat.

Now, once again -- six years ago, you know, Wolf, he had a primary from the right and President Bush had to bail him out. Now he has a primary from the left and President Obama is trying to bail him out. It's a fascinating race up there, and it's a test of whether seniority and stature matters.

Same thing in Arkansas. Blanche Lincoln is the chairman of the Agriculture Committee. She says: You need me. I bring home the bacon. I have influence.

Is that the right message to sell in a year when voters essentially are saying, the more power you have in Washington, the less we like you.

So, it's -- they're all big tests.

BLITZER: And the Pennsylvania contest, Candy, is going to be huge on Tuesday. I know you're interviewing for "STATE OF THE UNION" both of these Democratic candidates, Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak. Give us your -- your preview.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, in some ways, this certainly is one of the races we will look at and peer kind of into the petri dish to see what it means for the larger culture, if you will, because what we have is Joe Sestak, who, by the way, is a Democrat, does not have the support of the president or the vice president or any of the campaign committees, who today got MoveOn.org, one of the more liberal Democratic organizations.

And so he is sort of to the left of Specter. So, what you have here -- and this is happening in Arkansas, too, the Blanche Lincoln contest -- is that you have the Democrats being challenged from the left in their primary, and Republicans being challenged from the right.

Now, Arlen Specter, as John points out, has different problems, because, if you go up there, there certainly are a lot of complaints about his switching parties. But this is definitely a night where we will be looking at all of these races to see just how strong that kind of throw-the-bums-out mood is out there, because you know, Wolf, every election, we say, oh, it's anti-incumbent. Everybody wants to throw -- and then they don't do it.

So, we will see if it's for real Tuesday night.

BLITZER: I was thinking about this, John, and maybe it's far- fetched, but if -- if Specter loses to Sestak on Tuesday, does he pull a Joe Lieberman and run in the general election as an independent?

KING: Well, he would have that option, Wolf, but he would not have any support.

A lot of the people supporting him -- the key thing to watch up there is, will the labor unions, especially in Philadelphia, pull out the turnout for Arlen Specter and help him? Right now, the momentum is with Congressman Sestak. And, as Candy just very smartly noted, Congressman Sestak, he has been able to raise money.

And he now has this energy from the left, MoveOn.org and the type, but all the infrastructure is with Senator Specter. But a lot of them are not thrilled to be doing that. They are doing it out of loyalty to the party or loyalty to president or loyalty to Governor Rendell.

If Senator Specter cannot pull this out, we know he has alienated Republicans by switching parties. We know that he has testy relations with the Democrats by changing parties. I'm not sure there's much of a reservoir left for him, would that be the case.

But, to your broader point, is there a middle of the electorate that doesn't like any of its choices, I think we see that in just about every race across the country that, as we watch for anti- incumbent sentiment, we also see just a lot of general unhappiness with the political climate.

BLITZER: We will be all over these contests on Tuesday and then throughout the months to come leading up to November. Guys, thanks very much, guys.

John will be back at the top of the hour with "JOHN KING, USA." For eight years, she was the -- one of the world's most visible women, but Laura Bush says what we saw was not always the true picture, and now she's trying to set the record straight. My one-on- one interview with the former first lady is coming up, part two of that interview.

Plus, a recipe change for a best-selling brand of ketchup, will you taste the difference?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, hey, this just in.

While you have been interviewing Laura Bush in Texas, another former first lady sent you a video message. I don't know if you know this. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Congratulations, Wolf, on 20 years at CNN. You really are one of the most trusted names in news.

Every day, you give us the world from top to bottom, and then from the bottom back up to the top, and nobody works harder than you do, and nothing ever seems to get by you.

I happen to know a few things about situation rooms, and I think yours is hands-down the best.

So, thank you. Thank you for your great work. I hope your next 20 years are just as memorable for all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Hey, that's pretty cool, Wolf, a personal message from Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: That's very nice. I did not know about that. That is very, very nice.

SYLVESTER: Something to add to the scrapbook, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... secretary of state.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Yes.

Well, you know, I spent almost eight years covering the Clinton White House when she was the first lady, so got to know her a little bit, and want to wish her and her husband very, very -- a congratulatory note. Their daughter is getting married, hopefully, in the next few months.

SYLVESTER: Yes.

BLITZER: And I know they're getting ready for that big celebration.

SYLVESTER: Yes. That's coming up this summer, isn't it, Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, speaking of -- yes, I think so. It's coming up very soon. I know they're working very hard to make a beautiful wedding, which Chelsea certainly deserves.

Congratulations to Chelsea's fiance, Marc Mezvinsky, as well.

Coming up, speaking of first ladies, more of my interview today with another former first lady, Laura Bush. She speaks rather openly about her own difficulties in life. She writes about it in her book -- getting pregnant early in her marriage wasn't easy for her -- tells us about how her and her husband, how they reacted when they found out she was carrying twins.

Also, an historic day for the space shuttle program, as Atlantis lifts off for the final time.

And is beauty more than skin deep? An X-ray of Marilyn Monroe goes on the auction block. We're going to show it to you.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're here in Dallas, Texas, where I sat down today with the former first lady, Laura Bush, for a candid interview. She says the image most Americans had of her during her time in the White House wasn't necessarily accurate. And now she's trying to set the record straight in her new memoir.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: You write in the book that the media -- and I'm part of that media -- we never really understood you either during those eight years.

Let me read from "Spoken From the Heart."

"I had long ago resigned myself to what was written about me in the press. First ladies generally have an easier time than presidents, but that doesn't exempt them from criticism."

And you go on to say, "And how some journalists saw me often had very little to do with me and very much to do with how they perceived George."

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Mm-hmm.

BLITZER: All right. Explain what you mean by that. BUSH: I think that's a little bit of a bias, the media bias that everyone talks about a lot, and I think that's part of it. I also think that because George was a conservative, a Republican president, that people assumed that I was, you know, cookie-baking, stay-at-home mother, and I think that's sort of the box that we put our first ladies in every time, you know, Barbara Bush was certainly seen as a grandmotherly type, and she was a grandmother and a wonderful grandmother to her children, but she's also a very strong, outspoken woman herself, and I think that's the way that we're a little bit unfair, many times, too, the women that live in the white house. Because they're always a lot more interesting and complex than -- than just a flat description.

BLITZER: Do you think you got a fair treatment from the media?

BUSH: I do. I think the media was actually very fair to me, but I think the media assumed things about me even after I've given the presidential radio address about the treatment of women in Afghanistan. The whole time that George was president, there was this assumption that I was staying home, you know, hosting teas or whatever, instead of a really full -- who I was.

BLITZER: You were pushing him on some issues and we'll get to some of those issues, women in Afghanistan, helping deal with disease in Africa.

BUSH: Uh-huh.

BLITZER: One of the reasons, if not the major reason, he got involved in that was because of you, is that right?

BUSH: No, in Africa, you mean?

BLITZER: Some of those -- some of those issues that he was really working on.

BUSH: No, he -- that was really because of him. He was the one that wanted the --

BLITZER: What did you push him on the most?

BUSH: Well, I did talk about those issues with him. Those were certainly issues I talked about.

BLITZER: Women in Afghanistan?

BUSH: Women's rights in Afghanistan, but those are all things that he knew about, and obviously, I mean, that's -- and in the United States, after September 11th, when the spotlight turned on Afghanistan, many people across -- on both sides of the aisle, became very, very concerned about the way women are treated. And one of the things that we know now when we look at countries is that in countries where women are mistreated, where they're not allowed to be educated, where they're married off at very, very young ages, where they're, you know, all of the things we know, where they're not allowed to vote, in many times those countries are tyrannies, and the way they treat women is also the way they treat all their citizens, and I think that's one thing we're learning as we look at women across the world.

BLITZER: I guess reading the book, you wanted to convey the impression to people that you weren't just this meek little housewife baking cookies.

BUSH: I wanted people to have a fuller view of me, too. I mean, that's what I got to do by writing the story about myself, is fill in the gaps of the things I was not asked about by reporters or the, you know, the sort of stereotypical view that people had of me, and that's -- that was one of the really fun parts about writing the book was letting people know more about myself and even my background in Midland, Texas, and when I did that, it allowed me also to let people know more about George. The way we are. His sort of blunt and forthright manner is really the way west Texans are, because it's just a landscape where you don't sit around debating and discussing for a long time.

BLITZER: I learned, and I'm sure everybody who reads this book, a lot about you, including your own childhood in Texas, an only child. Your parents wanted more kids, didn't work out. You were even having difficulty getting pregnant.

BUSH: That's right. That's right.

BLITZER: You were thinking about adoption at one point. And you write this, "For in absence for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless -- we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives." You worked really hard to try to get pregnant.

BUSH: That's right. And we wanted children. We wanted to have children the first year we were married. We were 31 when we got married, and we both really wanted children, and a lot of children. And then I had trouble getting pregnant, so George and I actually had already gone to adoption agency, and we'd already filled out the paperwork and were ready for the home visit when I got pregnant. We had checked that we wanted twins. If twins came, so we were very, very grateful and felt so fortunate that we got twins. And I was happy that my girls got a sister, because that had been the one real loss that I had felt as a child was not having brothers and sisters, and being so aware of how sad my parents were that they had lost their other babies.

BLITZER: And obviously it influenced you. All of a sudden you got pregnant.

BUSH: Yes.

BLITZER: And you knew you were having twins, twin girls, and that changed everything.

BUSH: That did. And it really was the answer to our prayers.

BLITZER: And you got two great daughters. BUSH: Two great daughters and I'm so proud of them. It's been fun during this book tour, because they accompanied me on some of the media that I've done, and that's been just great support for me.

BLITZER: There's much more of my interview coming up with Laura Bush. She speaks rather candidly about her gay friends and why she and her husband don't see eye to eye when it comes to same sex marriage, stand by for that.

And the final scheduled voyage of space shuttle "Atlantis." we're there for the historic liftoff.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: More now of my interview with the former first lady of the United States, Laura Bush. As we sat down earlier today here in Dallas, Texas, she talked about her surprising stance, very different from her husband's, on some rather controversial issues. She writes about abortion, gay marriage, and much more in her new memoir, "Spoken from the Heart."

BLITZER: I saw your interview with Larry King the other day, and you point out your dad was a staunch Democrat. You also told Larry that you personally would support gay marriage. You supported abortion for women.

BUSH: Uh-huh.

BLITZER: Your husband had a very different perspective. Talk a little bit about -- because these are sensitive social issues.

BUSH: These are very sensitive issues.

BLITZER: And you have strong views that I don't think when you were first lady we really appreciated your views on these issues.

BUSH: Well, these are issues that are very, very difficult, and I really understand both sides of these issues. I really do. I mean, I'm very, very empathetic to a pro-life stance, and I think it's important that -- that people continue to have a pro-life stance that do. I also think it's important for it to remain legal, for medical reasons and for other reasons beyond that. And I said that the day George was inaugurated in an interview with Katie Couric when she asked me if I was for the overturn of roe versus wade.

BLITZER: And you write about it in the book.

BUSH: And I write about it in the book. And what flashed my mind were all the different nuances of that view. If I wanted to start my husband's term in office calling for the overturn of the Supreme Court ruling --

BLITZER: Roe versus Wade.

BUSH: And I said no. And then on the gay marriage issue. I talked to George in the 2004 issue -- '04 election, because that was the social issue then that animated the campaign. And I didn't want him to make an issue of it, because we have a lot of friends who are gay or whose children are gay, and what happens I think when we discuss these issues -- and believe me, I understand very strongly and very well the -- the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. You know, that's our history. That's really the basis of family life.

BLITZER: But would you -- would you have any trouble at all, and would the president have any trouble at all, let's say you know two men who are deeply committed to each other, love each other and are about to get married in Iowa or some other state that has gay marriage, would you and -- and they invited you, would you have any trouble going to it?

BUSH: No, no. And I just know people that got married in Washington, D.C. --

BLITZER: Two men?

BUSH: Two men, who have a long-term relationship. They've been together over 30 years. And I understand that. I really do understand it. I know that they're committed to each other, and they want in some way be able to express their commitment to each other in the same way that a husband and wife do when they marry.

BLITZER: You know, I listen to you, and I remember an interview I did with another former first lady, that would be Hillary Clinton, when she left the white house, she became a United States senator.

BUSH: Senator.

BLITZER: Then she became the presidential candidate, and now she's secretary of state, and I'm listening to you and you've got strong views and you're young --

BUSH: I'm not going to run.

BLITZER: For anything?

BUSH: No.

BLITZER: Why not?

BUSH: You know, I just never would have run for political office. It's just, you know, not my thing. But I am really happy that I had the chance to be involved in our political life and the political life of our country, because my husband was president, and had the chance to represent the people of the United States like I did when I traveled to Africa to talk about PEPBAR, the president's emergency plan for aids relief and to meet the people who literally had had what's called the Lazarus effect, to come back to life, because three could go on ARVs because of the generosity of the American people. And that was a privilege. It really was a privilege.

BLITZER: You give our best regards to the president. BUSH: I will.

BLITZER: We look forward to his book coming out in November.

BUSH: I know he's working on it.

BLITZER: Have you had helping him with the books?

BUSH: We had a great time reading each other's books and going back and forth, take that story out of your book, it's my story. It would have been his story, something that really happened to him.

BLITZER: He's going to have a tough act to follow. Your book is number one on "The New York Times" best sellers list, it debuted at that.

BUSH: I'm happy about that.

BLITZER: It's "Spoken from the Heart." Laura Bush is the writer.

BUSH: Thank you, Wolf. Appreciate it a lot, thank you.

BLITZER: After that sit-down we walked around the campus of southern Methodist University here in Dallas, and we're going to have a little bit of that coming up on Monday here in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I think you're going to want to hear some of our exchange as we walked around SMU.

This is my --

The last scheduled liftoff for space shuttle Atlanta, it happened today. We're going to take you to Cape Canaveral for details of this, the scheduled final mission, the end of the shuttle program.

And what do you think of Sarah Palin's favorite literature? Jack Cafferty's standing by with your e-mail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Like any other, CNN's -- [ inaudible ]

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the shuttle Atlanta is its way to a Sunday rendezvous. It took off under beautifully blue skies, picture perfect weather and a picture perfect launch. There were no issues with the entire countdown here and the shuttle got off right on time. Now "Atlantis" is flying for likely the last time the orbiter will ever fly. There are two scheduled shuttle flights left after this, one for the shuttle "Endeavour" and one for the shuttle "Discovery." It's not clear right now exactly when the shuttle program will finally wind up, it may slip well into next year. But I've got to tell you, Wolf, a spectacular sight here today, and, in fact, we talked to some folks at the visitors' center, 9,000 tickets were sold to people who wanted to come and watch this launch as the program comes to an end, 9,000 tickets sold in just 30 minutes. I can only imagine what it will be like when the last shuttle lifts off here from the Kennedy Space Center, Wolf, 14? BLITZER: We'll be there, and I know you will be as well, John Zarrella, our man on the scene.

"Atlantis" by the way, has been in service almost a quarter century. Its maiden voyage began October 3rd, 1985, since then it logged 115 million miles, including 10 previous trips to the international space station. Among its more notable missions, "Atlantis" helped launch exploratory craft to venues and Jupiter in 1989. And in 1995, it became the first space shuttle to dock with the Russian space station, Mir. Last year it brought astronauts to the Hubble Space Telescope for critical upgrades and repairs. We're going to be speaking with the astronauts in space, that's coming up later next week.

Jack Cafferty's coming up next with your e-mail. His question this hour is this -- what do you think of Sarah Palin's favorite literature? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Check in with Jack for "the Cafferty file". Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. The question this hour what do you think is Sarah Palin's favorite literature? Her publisher promises we'll get that information in her next book, which comes out in the fall.

John writes, "Abe Lincoln or P.T. Barnum, whichever one said you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. That's as far as she got."

Tony in Maryland says, "I guess most of her information comes from the major public policy journals of the day, "People," "Us" and "In Style," possibly "The National Inquirer." As far as serious literature, I'm sure she has a copy of "My Pet Goat" on her bookshelf."

Robert writes in California, "Remembrance of Things Past' by Marcel Proust, pop-up edition."

Don writes, "Sarah Palin's favorite literature must be whatever the ghost writer puts on paper. She may be the darling of the tea party set but I doubt she'd read anything since high school."

Joe writes, "Reading her investment portfolio."

Danielle writes, "The Idiot' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky."

Steve writes, "The little doctor known Dr. Seuss classic "Green eggs and Moose'"

Kenny in California suggests, "The Pitcher in the Rye."

Ronald says, "Sarah Palin's an interesting study. I agree she's really trying to make as much money as she can off of her notoriety. As for her reading list, I seriously doubt she reads anything other than talking points which all seem to be cliches, get the government off our backs, drill, baby, drill, et cetera. I think the book about how Sarah Palin gamed the system and hoodwinked the American public would be more interesting than her own supposed works."

Rhonda writes from New York, "No, Jack, another Sarah Palin question. Stick to Michelle Obama, at least she brings a smile to your face and twinkle to your eye, and she's literate, to boot."

If you want to read more on this, we've got thousands of e-mails. Go to my blog, CNN.com/Caffertyfile. Wolf?

BLITZER: Have a great weekend, Jack. Thanks very much.

What image comes to your mind when you think of Marilyn Monroe? Probably not the picture we're going to show you. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Marilyn Monroe is certainly a beauty icon but we now know beneath the surface there was deeply troubled issues. Now some items that tied to Marilyn Monroe's tough final years are up for bid and could offer a deeper look at starlet in one case literally. Brooke Anderson explains.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is what comes to mind when you think of an iconic film image of Marilyn Monroe, not this image. It's a chest x-ray of the bombshell that will be available to the highest bidder at an auction in Las Vegas next month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really the ultimate look into Marilyn Monroe.

ANDERSON: Certainly is. You can see her curves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ANDERSON: The x-ray is one of about 100 items linked to the star up for bid by Julian's Auctions. Durian Julian gave us an early peek. The value of the x-ray, taken two weeks after her divorce from baseball great Joe DiMaggio, is estimated between $800 and $1200. Also for sale, a dozen photos that were never publicly released, taken behind the scenes of "Some like It Hot" including this one of cross- dressing co-star and one-time paramour, Tony Curtis. What memories come to mind when you see these photos?

TONY CURTIS, ACTOR: Marilyn, on two or three occasions, made descriptions of me in a dress. She said, you look really nice. Not as nice as me but nice.

ANDERSON: There's also a 50-year-old couch from the home office of Dr. Ralph Greenson, Monroe's psychiatrist, whose range of celebrity clients included Curtis.

CURTIS: Marilyn and I used the same sofa, maybe not at the same time but we found some sofas to use at the same time. But that's another story. ANDERSON: Dr. Greenson's family decided to sell the couch, as well as gifts to and from Monroe, because they've been stored away, including this nightgown given to the doctor's then-22-year-old daughter, Joan.

JOAN GREENSON, DAUGHTER OF MONROE'S PSYCHIATRIST: It was too a little much for me.

ANDERSON: The entire family befriended Monroe during a fragile time and her father knew he had his hands full. Monroe was filming "The Misfits" and divorcing the screenwriter, Arthur Miller who wrote this part for her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're the saddest girl I ever met.

MARILYN MONROE: You're the first man that ever said that.

GREENSON: With Marilyn a lot of people wouldn't take her because she was a great risk of killing herself.

ANDERSON: Dr. Greenson was the one who discovered the 36-year- old actress' body after she overdosed. His daughter Joan still has keepsakes like this book of Arthur Miller's plays.

GREENSON: This particular edition he dedicated to Marilyn, and in it she writes to me, to Joanie, this, too, was part of my life and I want you to know of it. Love, Marilyn.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: If and when Greenson decides to sell the book, there will be a market for it. Durian Julian calls Marilyn Monroe items an investment. Case in point, these two pairs of Monroe's high heels a woman bought them for $3,000 in 1999 and sold them almost a decade later for $28,500. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brooke.

Always follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM, I'm on twitter, get my tweets at twitter.com/WolfBlitzerCNN. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.