So when it comes to the economy, your policy was to hand out pistols to retards.
All I'm saying is that if you did hand him a pistol, he might shoot himself and he might not. But if he does, that's capitalism, and that's the system we live by. It's America.
You forget, I was elected to this office twice by the people of this country. They trusted my sense of right and wrong. That's what they elected me for, to protect these basic values of right and wrong, freedom and unfreedom. And if that isn't always enough — well, you might not like it, but that's the way things work in this democracy we have. I was elected and I did the best job that I could.
Mr. President, it almost sounds to me like you're saying that it's not your fault that we elected you.
But it is your fault you ran, isn't it?
Why shouldn't I run? I have every right to run.
Sure you do. It's a free country. But if you weren't qualified for this office, you also had a responsibility not to run.
[Somberly] Yeah. Well. I did wonder about that once or twice.
When? What happened to make you think of that?
It wasn't anything specific. It's just sometimes, the way people looked at me. Laura.
Laura said something to you?
Not exactly. We were in bed one night, watching TV, and we saw this thing on the news about some poll in the Middle East showing that I was the most hated man in the Arab world, getting three times as many votes as the second-place guy, who was Ariel Sharon. And I said to her, "Jeez, what the fuck did I do to deserve that?"
And she said?
She didn't say anything. She just kind of gave me this look. Like she was sad. My dad does it too, sometimes. Like there's something they want to say to me, but won't.
I think there are a lot of people who feel that way.
Really? What do they want to say?
Do you really want to know?
OK, here it is. You're the child of two emotionally absent aristocrats who denied you any kind of love and affection from an early age. You grew up resentful and lacking completely in natural gifts or curiosity and by early adulthood found yourself desperate to fulfill the expectations your parents by then mostly had only for your much more competent brother, Jeb. You failed every test you ever faced as a young man and were unable to hold any job at all until the age of 45 or so, at which time you decided to try to win some self-respect by going into the family business. You were aided in this quest by a bunch of narrow-minded lackeys and holdovers from your father's administration who every step of the way manipulated your obvious Oedipal resentments to their advantage, enriching themselves and their friends. All you wanted was a pat on the back and a few accomplishments of your own to hang your hat on, but instead you're about to spend the rest of eternity pondering your now-official legacy as the worst and most pigheaded leader in the history of Western democracy, a man who almost single-handedly sank the mightiest nation on Earth by turning the presidency into a $50 trillion therapy session that ended in two disastrous wars, a financial crisis that threatens the entire system of international capitalism, and a legacy of corruption on a scale not seen since the Borgias or maybe Nero.
That, Mr. President, is what they're thinking and not saying to you.
Jeez. I thought you guys were a music magazine.
We are. You have any album recommendations?
Sure, I thought you might ask that. I like —
Just kidding. Time's up. Sorry.
No, really, I do have one more thing to say.
You're sorry? For what?
[Sighs] I, uh . . . you know, I remember back in 1989, I was thinking about buying a couple of Sizzler franchises in Lubbock.
You should have done it.
And I told my dad what I was thinking, and you know what he said?
He said, "Good idea, son. It's hard to fuck up steak."
We get it. Your father was a dick. So what? Buy a puppy or something. That's what everyone else does.
Yeah. [A single tear rolls down his cheek.] I guess I fucked up, huh?
Big-time. Can we have the world back now?
Sure, I guess. I really am sorry.
Gotta run. Later.
[Whimpering] I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
This article originally appeared in RS 1070 from January 22, 2009. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone's premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.
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