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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profile of First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney
Aired January 22, 2005 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins in a moment, but first, now in the news, an hour from now, blizzard warnings go into effect in New York. Areas in the upper Midwest are already struggling from snow and bitter cold temperatures. And snow is falling across Pennsylvania and Maryland. The storm has forced some interstates to close, delay air travel and have some NFL fans talking about possibilities for getting to tomorrow's championship games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Here with a quick update is CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano in the CNN Weather Center.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi Tony. Well, they might have a tough time getting there, but the storm should be gone in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia by the time tomorrow afternoon rolls around. It's moving very quickly. It's a strengthening system.
Here is the forecast tracked across the Ohio River Valley today where we've already seen a mix of ice and snow there. But it'll be mostly snow above this line, six to 12 inches. And then going towards the Atlantic Ocean where it will pick up some moisture, Philadelphia through New York, 12 to 18".
I mentioned the blizzard warnings. They'll go in effect in Boston later on today as well with 18 to 24" of snow possible there. There you see it ripping across Ohio and heavy snow is about to develop across the Northeast.
Tony, back to you.
HARRIS: OK, Rob, thank you. More news in 30 minutes. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins right now.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, she lives at the nation's most prestigious address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Known for her trademark grace and down-to-earth style, she was the star at the biggest party in Washington this year.
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ANN GERHART, BIOGRAPHER: She is the perfect wife. She knows exactly how to calibrate her public appearance and her public pronouncements.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: But No. 1 priority, standing by her husband.
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LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I think there's also something about politics that has strengthened our marriage.
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ANNOUNCER: From small-town librarian to United States first lady, Laura Welch Bush, then...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard Cheney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: ...the No. 2 man in the White House, his fingerprints are everywhere.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This White House has been shaped by Dick Cheney from top to bottom.
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ANNOUNCER: He was a chief architect behind the war with Iraq.
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JAMES CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "TIME"MAGAZINE: And what is being called the Bush Doctrine is actually something that Dick Cheney has been working on more than 10 years.
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ANNOUNCER: In his youth, he got a wake-up call to change his reckless ways from his high school sweetheart.
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FMR. SEN. ALAN SIMPSON, FRIEND: You could see a person who was going through the period of raising hell and then didn't give a damn about anything.
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ANNOUNCER: From small town Wyoming to a second term as the man some call the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, Dick Cheney. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. If there is one person President Bush turns to more than any other for support, it's his wife Laura. And she was right by his side Thursday as he was sworn into a second term. With the inauguration and another four years in the White House, a look now at first lady Laura Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome Mrs. Laura Bush!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First lady Laura Bush looking picture perfect for the 55th presidential inauguration. In contrast to more outspoken political spouses, she's reserved and soft spoken, a supportive wife who finds strength in her 28-year marriage to George W. Bush.
L. BUSH: I think there's also something about politics that has strengthened our marriage for sure and, you know, really made us that much more appreciative of each other and appreciative of the fact that we do have a strong marriage.
J.D. HEYMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Laura Bush presents an image that's sort of the ideal first lady. She says the right things. She's always presentable.
GERHART: And she is the perfect wife. She knows exactly how to calibrate her public appearance and her public pronouncements. She does nothing but enhance his image.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In contrast to the 2000 presidential race, in 2004, she emerged as a powerful ally in her husband's bid for re- election. Campaigning solo across the country and raising $5.5 million.
GERHART: Laura Bush is a figure who stands there and says to the American people, I'm a strong woman too. I may be quiet, but I'm independent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She also took on one of the most controversial issues of the campaign, defending the limits her husband has imposed on federally funded embryonic stem cell research in contrast to another first lady.
L. BUSH: The president's policy makes it possible for researchers to explore the potential of stem cells while respecting the ethical and moral implications associated with this research.
HEYMAN: She's somebody who presents an image that's not off putting to those who are to the left of Mr. Bush in terms of his policies and his core beliefs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But after almost four years as first lady, America is just getting to know the one-time librarian from Midland, Texas. Showing her lighter side last spring, Laura Bush appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. When asked if she had gambled or watched a Chippendale show in Las Vegas, she was quick with a joke.
L. BUSH: Jay, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Really? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Though she appears more comfortable in public, the 58- year-old first lady is an admitted introvert whose favorite past time is simply reading. Her reluctant life in politics began with a little fanfare, on a blind date 28 years ago.
L. BUSH: What I liked about George when I first met him was I liked his personality. I liked that he gave me a lot of energy because of the energy of his personality.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time.
L. BUSH: Not all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Far from the nation's capitol in a simple time, Laura Welch was raised as an only child. The Welches lived in the small west Texas oil town of Midland. Her father built houses while her mother kept the company books and the home, 2500 Humble Street.
L. BUSH: I remember the big sky. Midland has a huge sky. But mostly I think I remember feeling of being really sheltered. You were free in Midland to ride your bike anywhere and go all around town by yourself, and I think that was good. I think that was also a lot of security for all of us that grew up there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only child also found security in a group of girlfriends, friends that are still close today.
JANE SIMMS PODESTA, WASHINGTON BUREAU, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: They used to cruise Midland and smoke Kents in the back seat and go get Coke floats at the corner stand. She had a very '50s childhood with her friends.
REGAN GAMMON, FRIEND: She is my closest friend. We would listen to 45 records all the time. We loved to dance around in our socks. I mean, just like in -- you know, you see in the movies. As we got older, it was a lot like the movie "American Graffiti."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Music wasn't Laura's only escape. She was just as likely to have her nose in a good book.
L. BUSH: I loved all the "Little House on the Prairie" books. The main character in those books is Laura, so I really identified with Laura, who had brown hair.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Laura Welch's childhood was idyllic, sheltered, and safe, her late teens were tempered by tragedy. On November 5, 1963, at the age of 17, Laura Welch drove through an intersection and hit an oncoming car driven by a close friend. He died. No charges were brought against Laura. PODESTA: I think she was terribly saddened by the death of her friend when she was in high school, and I do think that it had an impact. But that's one area that she doesn't really like to talk about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laura soon left Midland for Dallas, earning a bachelor's degree in education. She became a public school teacher and a librarian. Former colleagues at Dawson Elementary in Austin remember her concern for underprivileged students.
MARIE VELLIQUETTE, TEACHER: Laura made sure that we had books in the library that these children could relate to.
JONI HENDERSON, TEACHER: I recall a student who was transitioning from Spanish to English, and Laura would take the time, extra time, to seek out materials that might be important to him or be able to help him with that transition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the story of Laura Welch Bush continues, how George W. Bush would change her life and how she would change his.
G.W. BUSH: I think it's a well documented that I drank too much.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The year, 1977. Jimmy Carter was president. The Cold War was still hot. Unemployment reached double digits. And Laura Welch was 30 years old, smart and single but that was about to change.
Laura Welch and George Walker Bush had actually lived just miles apart as children. They even attended the same junior high school for a year. Twenty years later, a friend's barbecue in Midland brought them back together.
GAMMON: She came back and she said, "Well, I had dinner with George Bush." She said, "He's really a cute guy, and you know, and I think he likes me."
L. BUSH: He was funny, and we laughed a lot, and both of us love to laugh.
G.W. BUSH: I was smitten, I was. And it didn't take me long to propose, and fortunately she said yes.
PODESTA: It was like Audrey Hepburn stepping into the animal house. She is an introvert, he's an extrovert. He's impatient, she's patient. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These opposites were more than just drawn to each other. Within six weeks, they were engaged, within three months, married.
L. BUSH: It was a small wedding, just about 75 people. It was in the church I had been baptized in as a baby, so it was a -- you know, a really wonderful way to start a new marriage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She knew by marrying the man that she calls "Bushie," there might be sacrifice. Laura Welch was raised a Democrat, but now she was forever tied to a Republican Party dynasty. Her new husband, the grandson of a senator, son of an ambassador who had become vice president and then president of the United States. There would be no honeymoon for these newlyweds.
GEORGE W. BUSH: They're in a city or town, and this whole district that I hadn't been in during the past 12 months.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just one day after they said their I-do's, George W. followed in his family's footsteps and entered politics, running for a congressional seat in Texas.
G.W. BUSH: I'm George Bush.
ANNOUNCER: George Bush, businessman, independent oil and gas producer, and now a candidate for Congress.
G.W. BUSH: Well, I think that's the thing we need, less government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bush lost, and after that defeat, George and Laura both agreed to return to a private life and start a family. So George reentered the gas and oil business. But for Laura, pregnancy did not come quickly.
G.W. BUSH: We did want children, and were in the process of adopting. Laura actually, as I understand it, checked "twins" on the -- we would love to have twins. And in between going to the Gladney Home and being accepted as parents and this -- the final home visit by the caseworker, Laura became pregnant with twins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five weeks from Laura's expected due date; there was a problem, toxemia, a life-threatening condition for the twins and Laura. Doctors had to perform an emergency C-section.
G.W. BUSH: I was in the operating room, and I can remember showing them to Laura, and I'm an emotional person, I got weepy. And then I realized our life had changed forever in a positive way.
L. BUSH: We were thrilled. We had waited a long time to have children, and we wanted children. And so when we got to have two at once, we were especially thrilled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Bushes had fraternal twin girls, Barbara and Jenna, named for their grandmothers. Laura Bush became a fiercely protective mother, and she was just as watchful over her husband. She was concerned about his drinking. Alcohol had become a problem for George Bush, and Laura was determined to save him from himself.
BILL MINUTAGLIO, AUSTIN BUREAU FHIEF, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: It's very, very clear from talking to their friends that it put an enormous strain on their relationship, and that she essentially laid down the law, and, in essence, said, you know, it's drinking or me.
G.W. BUSH: And I think it's well documented that I drank too much and quit drinking, and -- because alcohol was beginning to crowd out my energy level and crowd out my affections.
GERHART: While he says she made him quit drinking, that she said it's me or the Jim Beam, Laura herself says, "Oh, I never said that. He made up that funny story."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With his drinking days behind him, George W. Bush helped his father's successful run for the presidency in 1988.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... so help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The following year, he borrowed $600,000 and bought a share of a baseball team, a move that put George W. squarely in the public eye. All along, Laura Bush had demanded that her personal life and the lives of their teenage girls remain in obscurity.
G.W. BUSH: Let's make it official. I'm a candidate for governor of Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was until 1994 when her husband decided he wanted to become the next governor of Texas. And he did, defeating incumbent Ann Richards.
G.W. BUSH: A woman who will be a great first lady of Texas, Laura Bush.
L. BUSH: I would have never guessed. People would say, "Do you think George will get back into politics?" And I used to joke and say, "Yes, maybe when we're 50." And as it turned out, we were pretty close to 50 when he ran for governor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With her husband now the governor of Texas, the most private Laura Bush was now thrust into the public spotlight, whether she liked it or not.
G.W. BUSH: My yellow rose of Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we return, a campaign that would test Laura Bush's trademark serenity and a media spotlight that would test her patience.
L. BUSH: I think it's selling magazines and newspaper articles and television at the expense of my children.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
G.W. BUSH: Well, this exploratory business is over. I'm running. I'm in and I intend to win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): As her husband set out to capture the office lost by his father seven years earlier, once again, Laura Bush answered the call, the call of the campaign trail, a tough campaign with a roller coaster finale.
WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN: The TV networks called this race for Governor Bush. It now appears -- it now appears that their call was premature. L. BUSH: He gave it 100 percent, and at that point, we just had to see what happened, and we had to -- we were dealt that particular hand, and we -- it just had to be played out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of 36 days of counts, recounts, and court rulings, the hand turned out to be a winning one for George Walker Bush.
G.W. BUSH: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
PODESTA: She is the steel in his back. She is a civilizing influence on him. I think that she has built him in many ways into the person he is today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laura Bush gracefully embraced her new role, standing with her husband and pushing for causes near to her heart.
L. BUSH: I'm going around the country talking about how important teaching is and how important it is for women and men to consider teaching as a career.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After just eight months in the White House, Laura Bush would use her trademark grace to reach out to the country. Following the attacks of September 11, she visited hospitals, blood drives and memorial services, calming the nerves of a worried nation.
GERHART: After September 11, Laura Bush really transformed herself into a figure who could take a really active role and that was to reach out and be reassuring to people. And she surprised herself in a way. Before that, she hadn't really recognized that she herself had this incredible platform and that people would pay attention to her just because she was the first lady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But not all attention was welcome. At the age of 19, both daughters were cited for alcohol violations. The news generated unwanted publicity for a matter the Bushes preferred to handle privately. Always protective of her daughters, Laura Bush took aim at the media. L. BUSH: I think that our children ought to be totally left alone and allowed to have a totally private life. They're not public citizens. I think it's selling magazines and newspapers articles and television at the expense of my children. That's what I think it is.
HEYMAN: Laura is very close to Jenna and Barbara and she's fiercely protective of them. When the daughters have had bad press, she's been the first person to circle the wagons.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As her husband embarks on a second term as president, the one-time reluctant politician's wife has learned to embrace her role.
GERHART: She's gotten a lot more confident standing in front of a crowd. She's still surprised though when she walks into a room and there's a huge round of applause. She still sometimes looks over her shoulder to see who's coming in behind her who these people might be clapping for. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daughters Jenna and Barbara both recent college graduates are started life on their own. Jenna plans to teach in a public school in Washington, D.C. while twin sister, Barbara has yet to announce her career plans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now in the public eye, Laura Bush keeps close watch over her daughters.
HEYMAN: She has tried very hard to keep them away from the media glare and she's also talked about disciplining them when they're out of line. But it's all in a sort of vane, protective mother, a loving mother. She really has been criticized, of course, for being indulgent. But there's very little evidence that she's any more indulgent than any other parent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A parent and wife who is devoting herself to her family and supporting the nation through difficult times.
GERHART: And I think that when historians look back on the Bush presidency, they'll find that she was a bedrock and that he could have never managed without her. He really needs his wife and she's been there to perform that function for him.
L. BUSH: Every single day we have the opportunity to meet really great people and see fabulous things that happen all over our country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The role of a lifetime but leaving little time for simple pleasures like curling up with a good book.
ZAHN: Ever the librarian, Laura Bush says even to this day, she still arranges her books according to the Dewey Decimal System.
ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, he is one of the most powerful men in the country but he wasn't always on a path to success.
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SIMPSON: You finally light a fire in yourself and you figure why am I -- why am I drinking like I am, why am I doing this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: How Vice President Dick Cheney turned his life around next.
HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues in a moment, but first, a check of the headline now in the news. A major winter storm is rolling out of the Midwest today with its sights set on the Northeast. Blizzard warnings are about to go up for New York where a foot and a half of snow might fall. Boston, you're looking at maybe two feet. Meteorologist Rob Marciano is watching the storm's progress -- Rob.
MARCIANO: Hi Tony. Bitterly cold air in advance of this system, so most of it's going to fall in the form of snow and now beginning to roll into D.C., to Philly and eventually into New York. And as you mentioned, blizzard warnings up through tomorrow and that would include Boston through tomorrow afternoon. So impressive snow tallies, certainly the most heavy of the season -- 14 to 20 possibly in New York, 18 to 24 possible in Boston, Philly, 10 to 15, Baltimore and D.C. also getting in the act. This is not taking into consideration the high winds that are going to come into this system which will blow the snow around, possibly drifting snow five, six feet high. Fourteen right now in New York, 21 in D.C. The bitterly cold air and the wind chills, Tony, another major factor, pretty much a dangerous storm. We'll keep you posted throughout the afternoon.
HARRIS: OK, Rob, appreciate it. Join Fredricka Whitfield at the top of the hour for the latest on the winter storm. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues right now.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Vice President Dick Cheney was sworn in on Thursday and officially began his second term in office. Long considered the ultimate insider, Mr. Cheney has worked behind the scenes at the White House on everything from the war in Iraq to the economy. During the 2004 presidential campaign, however, Cheney played a very visible and sometimes controversial role as he sought to rally his party's conservative base. Here's Jonathan Mann.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mention Dick Cheney and the first question is not so much who is he, but where is he? Over the course of his 40 year career, the vice president has been just over the shoulder of some of the key players in American government. In the '60s, there he was in the Nixon White House as an aide to Donald Rumsfeld. In the '70s, as Gerald Ford's chief of staff, leading Congress as minority whip in the '80s, ordering troops into Kuwait as secretary of defense in the '90s and now he's right behind President George W. Bush though some say he's really front and center.
JOHN NICHOLS, AUTHOR, "DICK: THE MAN WHO IS PRESIDENT": The fact is it's Dick Cheney who is serving as a sort of prime minister, a super chief of staff, however you want to describe him, as Americans tend to think of their president as superman, someone who comes in every morning and thinks about everything from terrorism to what the prime minister of Great Britain is doing to flood relief in Nebraska, just a whole amply of issues. And the assumption is that's a president's role. Well, I think that is Dick Cheney's role.
CARNEY: On the issues that matter the most, I think, Dick Cheney is the most influential and powerful person in the White House.
J. MANN: As one of the primary architects of U.S. foreign policy, Cheney was the loudest voice calling for the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the war with Iraq.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Either Saddam Hussein will fully comply with the United Nations' resolution or the United States in coalition with other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein.
J. MANN: While Cheney mainly stayed out of the spotlight during his first term in office, he became more visible and more vocal during the 2004 re-election bid of President Bush.
CHENEY: Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge he would fight a more sensitive war on terror. America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive.
NICHOLS: He is the person that the Bush Administration wants doing exactly what he's doing, which is going out to the most conservative folks in the country, social conservatives and economic conservatives, and saying to them, look, this is your administration. We will take care of you. George Bush can go out and talk compassionate conservatism. He can go and you know make nice sounds in his speeches. Dick Cheney is going to tell you everything is going to be OK.
CHENEY: And I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office...
J. MANN: After his ticket's November victory, Cheney now enters his second term doing what he's done most of his life, playing a behind the scenes supporting role.
CHENEY: If we simply sit back and operate by 20th century standards with respect to national security strategy in terms of how we're going to deal with this, we say wait until we're hit by an identifiable attack from Iraq. The consequences could be devastating for the United States. We have to be prepared to prevent that from happening.
KEN ADELMANM, FORMER DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY: I think bosses throughout Dick's life, including President Ford and now President Bush, have really appreciated his discretion, his good judgment and his view that I'm here to help you; I'm not here to see my face in the paper. I'm not here to get on television. I'm not here to do any of that. I'm here to help you.
QUESTION: Congressman, can we talk to you just a second?
J. MANN: So how has the low key Cheney been able to climb through the ranks in a city where star quality is the key to success? Friends and colleagues say the answers lie out west with Cheney's roots. He was born in Nebraska on January 30, 1941. But home to Richard Bruce Cheney has always been a small, quiet town in Wyoming, nestled between scenic mountains, prairies and oil refineries.
JOE MEYER, WYOMING SECRETARY OF STATE: Casper was typical 1950s. Your doors were unlocked. You could stay out late and not worry about the consequences. You could walk two blocks out of town and see pheasant and turkeys. It was a different era with a different mindset.
J. MANN: Netrona County High School became the center of life for Dick and he made friends quickly.
MEYER: A group would take my Plymouth convertible out and we'd tie a rope to it on an irrigation ditch which was about five miles west of Casper. We would drive up and down the road and hop down there with some boards on our feet and we'd just water ski.
J. MANN: Friends say Dick didn't much like the spotlight, yet he was senior class president, star halfback and co-captain of the football team, and eventually boyfriend of the school's homecoming queen. Lynn Vincent (ph). The pretty blonde at the top of their class caught Dick's eye.
MEYER: Lynn was a straight A student. They would flinch if I said this, undoubtedly smarter in an I.Q. sense than Dick was.
J. MANN: As graduation neared, Lynn was college bound with a full academic scholarship. Dick was just an average student with no university prospects of his own until he went to visit Lynn at her after school job and met her boss.
NICHOLAS LEMANN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": He would spot promising lads in the senior class at the high school in Casper and kind of talk to them and talk to Yale and arrange for them to go to Yale.
J. MANN: Dick Cheney needed those strings pulled. His grades and his family's lack of finances would have kept him out of the Ivy League under normal circumstances. The leap from small town Wyoming to the wealthy patrician community of Yale was overwhelming.
SIMPSON: It was just a disaster, you know. He didn't fit.
J. MANN: He told his friends he was having a hard time adjusting to the life of fraternities and privilege that surrounded him and he missed having one of his biggest motivators nearby.
MEYER: He had a deep love for Lynn and when they were apart, when he was at Yale, she was at Colorado College. I know they missed each other tremendously.
J. MANN: Already not the best student, his grades suffered and he was asked to leave the school for a semester or two. Dick returned to Wyoming and took a union job laying power lines. It wasn't the best time for Dick Cheney.
SIMPSON: You could see a person who was going through the period of raising hell and not paying attention and didn't give a damn about anything.
J. MANN: He was arrested twice for drunken driving and after re- enrolling at Yale; his dismal grades forced the school to dismiss him for good.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Dick Cheney gets an ultimatum that changes the course of his life.
SIMPSON: She said, you know, Dick, if this is all you're going to do that would be very unfair. You would be treating yourself badly.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MANN (voice-over): By the age of 21, Dick Cheney had dropped out of Yale, had several brushes with the law and was working a dead-end job in Wyoming. One thing going for him was his high school sweetheart, Lynn Vincent. But they were on very different paths.
SIMPSON: He worked out on the power lines, you know, out in the wind and the rain and she wasn't about to hook up with him.
J. MANN: Lynn gave him an ultimatum.
MEYER: I've got to believe it was his deep-seated love for Lynn; he didn't want to disappoint her that certainly gave him some backbone to keep working as hard as he did.
SIMPSON: You finally light a fire in yourself. You figure why am I drinking like I am, why am I doing this?
J. MANN: Nineteen sixty-four was the turning point. Finally committed to changing his life, Cheney married Lynn and went back to school at the University of Wyoming at Laramie.
MEYER: He got into political science and it just captured his imagination. It was unbelievable. J. MANN: This new passion for politics landed Cheney an internship in the Republican side of the Wyoming state legislature. In 1968, Cheney got a job with the governor of Wisconsin, so the Cheneys moved to Madison and got full scholarships at the University of Wisconsin, a hot bed of student protest at the height of the Vietnam War. Enrolling at the school gave Cheney the last of his five draft deferments and it allowed him to stay at home with his growing family.
Politics was a natural fit for Cheney. He was becoming confident and enterprising. When Donald Rumsfeld was chosen by President Nixon to head up the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969, Cheney sent him an unsolicited memo on how to handle his confirmation hearings. The bold move got him a job.
Throughout the next several steps of his career, Rumsfeld would take Cheney along as his deputy. This steady rise through the ranks of government reached its peak when, in 1975, President Gerald Ford made 34-year-old Dick Cheney the youngest White House chief of staff in history.
MEYER: It was something that he truly loved. He loved the politics. He loved the debate. He loved the discussion.
J. MANN: One year later, Dick Cheney's stint in the White House would be cut short. Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election, leaving Cheney jobless and at a crossroads. For the first time, Cheney's own political ambitions surfaced. And though he had grown comfortable with the fast-paced rhythms of Washington, the down home twang of Wyoming called and he decided to run for a seat in the heavily Democratic U.S. Congress.
ADELMAN: Running in a primary for a Republican seat is the lowest of the low, the lowest form of life, except for paramecium. And so to go from chief of staff to running for the nomination for Republican congressman in Wyoming was, as they say in "Hamlet," "oh what a falling off there was."
J. MANN: Just weeks into the campaign at the age of 37, Dick Cheney's three pack a day smoking habit, poor diet and high stress jobs caught up with him. He had his first heart attack. Cheney refused to give up. He had his wife and daughters hit the campaign trail while he was in his hospital bed. He even made a written plea to voters.
MEYER: "I see the error of my ways. I'll never have another cigarette again. I will exercise. I really do want to be your congressman."
J. MANN: The people of Wyoming sent him packing back to Washington as their new congressman.
THOMAS MANN, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: He built friendships within the body and saw himself moving, over time, up the leadership ladder.
J. MANN: By 1988, his congenial, easygoing ways got him all the way up to minority whip. But all the while Cheney was amassing a voting record more conservative than Newt Gingrich or Trent Lott. Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, against busing to desegregate public schools, against abortion even in cases of rape or incest, against a holiday for Martin Luther King.
ADELMAN: His voting record was a shock because people assume that if you're going to be real conservatives you're going to be real mean and have a lousy personality. And what Dick Cheney showed is that you can be real nice, real smart, have a wonderful personality and still be conservative.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, good afternoon.
J. MANN: In 1989, after 10 years in Congress, the White House came calling once again when John Tower, the nominee for defense secretary, was rejected for drinking and womanizing.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Dick Cheney is a trusted friend, an adviser.
J. MANN: The Bush administration needed a candidate who would win easy approval and they thought Cheney fit the bill. And despite some controversy surrounding his lack of service in Vietnam, Dick Cheney became the 17th secretary of defense with a unanimous vote. As Pentagon chief, Cheney maintained his trademark style -- tough, low key, in control. And two years into his term, when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, the master strategist got the chance to strut his stuff on the world stage.
Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Dick Cheney's radical philosophy plays a major role in the second Gulf War.
CARNEY: But when George W. Bush needed a doctrine, Dick Cheney had it in his suitcase. He had it ready to go.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
J. MANN (voice-over): In 1991, pushing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait made Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf superheroes. After years of being a supporting character, Pentagon chief Dick Cheney wanted to bask in the after glow, too.
LEMANN: He thought that because of the Gulf War, he was a really plausible presidential candidate.
J. MANN: But Cheney wasn't striking a chord.
T. MANN: Dick Cheney is as low key as they get. He has a kind of a pudgy look about him. He speaks in monotone. He doesn't generate a lot of excitement.
J. MANN: After two years, he abandoned his pursuit of the presidency. Dick Cheney decided it was time for a break and while napping during a fly fishing trip, his next opportunity materialized as if in a dream.
LEMANN: The subject came up of who should be the new CEO of Halliburton. The job had come open. And while he was asleep, all these CEOs with whom he was fishing decided he would be perfect for the job so when he woke up they told him guess what, you're the new CEO of Halliburton.
J. MANN: Cheney used his extensive government contacts to help the oil and energy company grow. But after five years on the job, old allegiances pulled him away. Presidential candidate George W. Bush, the son of his former boss, was launching his campaign and Cheney was enlisted to help him find a running mate.
SIMPSON: He'd feed a name into George Bush and George would say well, now, what about this person? Well, here's what we found or here's the negatives and the positives. Well, that's great, you know, that's great, Dick, but, you know, I'd like to think about you. And Dick just said forget it.
J. MANN: But Bush's persistence paid off. In August of 2000, Cheney formally resigned from Halliburton with a $36 million golden handshake, and the Bush-Cheney team was formed.
T. MANN: Bush very wisely saw in Cheney someone who agreed with him on policy, who embraced his conception of leadership and decision- making and thirdly, someone who wouldn't outshine him.
J. MANN: As Cheney campaigned with his wife and two daughters, his conservative core constituency became concerned about younger daughter Mary's sexual orientation. Meanwhile, the gay community was appalled that the father of a lesbian could have supported a ban on gays in the military and voted against funding for HIV/AIDS testing and counseling.
But days before the start of the 2004 Republican National Convention, Cheney broke ranks with the president, saying he was against a federal ban on gay marriage.
CHENEY: At this point, I'll say my own preferences are -- is, as I've stated, that the president makes basic policy for the administration and he's made it clear that he does, in fact, support the constitutional amendment on this issue.
J. MANN: One issue where the vice president and the president see eye to eye is Iraq.
CARNEY: What is being called the Bush Doctrine is actually something that Dick Cheney has been working on for more than 10 years. When he was secretary of defense in the first Bush administration, he and some key aides who are now working in this Bush Administration developed a defense strategy that back then was considered like right- wing lunacy because it was so aggressive and contained this idea of preemption. NANCY GIBBS, SENIOR EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: So much of what Bush's instincts seem to have told him to do from certainly the moment September 11 happened, coincide with what Cheney's very rational analysis of the threat we face has told him to do for years, for a decade.
J. MANN: Despite the violence and turmoil of Iraq, Cheney is still sticking to his guns. He insists there were links between Iraq and al Qaeda, in contrast with the findings of the 9/11 Commission.
NICHOLS: The remarkable thing about it is that even now, long after the invasion, while the United States is mired in the trauma of Iraq, I would argue, Dick Cheney refuses to let go of many of the theories that have been broadly disproven or at least discredited, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that it had close ties to al Qaeda. Again and again, these notions have been discredited.
J. MANN: But not everyone disputes Cheney's claims.
JAMES THOMPSON (R), 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: The vice president has said there were contacts. They may be in possession of information about contacts beyond those that we found. I don't know. That wasn't any of our business. Our business was 9/11. So there is no controversy. There's no contradiction and this is not an issue.
J. MANN: But there is continuing controversy over Halliburton, which has come back to haunt its former CEO on a number of occasions -- first, for getting no bid contracts in Iraq, then for allegedly overcharging the government for millions of dollars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney.
J. MANN: Now, as the vice president enters his second term, the policies he championed are still being played out in post-war Iraq. Regardless of the outcome, Cheney has proven throughout his 40 years of politics, he will survive.
SIMPSON: He is an ambulatory heat shield. He can come through the atmosphere with sparks flying out all sides and over the top and he lands with a smile, unscathed, dapper, smiling a wry smile like I've just been through that and it wasn't too bad. He'll take all heat. He'll take it all.
ZAHN: At his inauguration, Vice President Dick Cheney was sworn in by House speaker Dennis Hastert instead of by the chief justice of the United States, a rare occurrence but not unprecedented. House speakers have inaugurated vice presidents on three other occasions in our nation's history.
That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Iraq votes and we take a look at two key players in the decision to go to war, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us, hope you'll be back with us again next week.
ANNOUNCER: And for more people in the news, please pick up a copy of "people" magazine.
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