George W. Bush substance abuse controversy
Bush has described his days before his religious conversion in his 40s as his "nomadic" period and "irresponsible youth" and admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. In Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President by James Hatfield, Bush is quoted as saying that "alcohol began to compete with my energies ... I'd lose focus". Although Bush states that he was not an alcoholic, he has acknowledged that he was "drinking too much".
Nicholas D. Kristof quotes Bush's cousin Elsie Walker as saying, "He was a riot. But afterward, when you're older, that can wear thin", and gives the example of Bush asking a "proper" female friend of his parents at a family cocktail party, "So, what's sex like after 50, anyway?"
On September 4, 1976 (age 30), Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He admitted his guilt, was fined US$150, and had his driving license in the state suspended for two years, although the White House had claimed 30 days. This incident did not become public knowledge until it was reported by Erin Fehlau of Maine FOX affiliate WPXT-TV in the week before the 2000 election.
The most notorious episode, reported in numerous diverse sources including U.S. News & World Report on November 1, 1999, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq by Robert Parry, First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty by Bill Minutaglio, and W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty by Elizabeth Mitchell, has 26-year-old Bush visiting his parents in Washington, D.C. over the Christmas vacation in 1972, shortly after the death of his grandfather, and taking his 16-year-old brother Marvin out drinking. On the way home Bush lost control of the car and ran over a waste container, but continued home with the garbage can wedged noisily under the car. When his father, George H. W. Bush, called him on the carpet for not only his own behavior but for exposing his younger brother to risk, George W., still under the influence, appears to have retorted angrily, "I hear you're looking for me. You wanna go mano-a-mano right here?" Before the elder Bush could reply, the situation was defused by brother Jeb, who took the opportunity to surprise his father with the happy news that George W. had been accepted to Harvard Business School.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush said that he gave up drinking after waking up with a hangover after his 40th birthday celebration: "I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then." He ascribed the change in part to a 1985 meeting with Reverend Billy Graham, after which he began serious Bible study, as well as to gentle but persistent pressure from his wife, Laura. However this claim has been challenged by some due to a 2004 interview Graham did with Brian Williams where he said.
"I've heard others say that, and people have written it, but I cannot say that," he says. "I was with him and I used to teach the Bible at Kennebunkport to the Bush family when he was a younger man, but I never feel that I in any way turned his life around."
Mickey Herskowitz, a sportswriter for the Houston Chronicle who became close friends with the Bush family and was originally contracted to ghost-write Bush's book A Charge to Keep, recalled interviewing Bush about it when he was doing research for the book.
"I remember asking him about the famous meeting at Kennebunkport with the Reverend Billy Graham. And you know what? He couldn't remember a single word that passed between them."
Friends recall that Bush said nothing of his decision, even to Laura, until many weeks later when they realized that he had not had so much as a single beer in the interim.
Bush refused to answer questions about past marijuana use. In a taped conversation with a friend, Bush said "I wouldn't answer the marijuana question. You know why? 'Cause I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."
In Fortunate Son, Bush biographer Hatfield quoted several anonymous sources regarding allegations of Bush's cocaine use. Hatfield reported that Bush had been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972 and that his father pulled strings to have records of the arrest expunged. Bush campaign spokesperson Mindy Tucker called the allegation "absolutely untrue". Bush repeatedly refused to state whether he had ever used cocaine. Bush did say in 1999 that he could truthfully answer "no" to the then-standard FBI background check question of whether he had used any illegal drug in the last seven years. He later stated that he could have passed a background check under a policy that his father had instituted as President in 1989 that extended the background check to 15 years. This would have checked back to 1974, two years after the alleged 1972 arrest.
- Kristof, Nicholas, How Bush Came to Tame His Inner Scamp, The New York Times, July 29, 2000.
- "Ally of an Older Generation Amid the Tumult of the 60's". The New York Times. 2000-06-19. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- The Smoking Gun: Archive
- Alicia C. Shepard "A Late-Breaking Campaign Skeleton," American Journalism Review, December 2000
- Salon Books | The mediocrity that roared
- "In His Own Words: 'I Made Mistakes'". The Washington Post. 1999-07-30. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- The Washington Post. 1999-07-30 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bush072599.htm
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- "Bush acknowledges 1976 DUI charge". CNN. 2000-11-03. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- Battle of the Bushes
- "Bush hinted at use of marijuana". BBC. February 21, 2005. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
- Hatfield, pp. 306—11
- "Publisher halts George W. Bush bio" by Daryl Lindsey, Salon.com, October 21, 1999
- Macintyre, Ben (1999-08-12). "Bush dodges cocaine claims as campaign hots up". The Independent (Ireland) (The Times (London)). Retrieved 2011-05-15.
- Hatfield, pp. 300—01
- Hatfield, J.H. (1999). Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. New York City, Soft Skull Press. ISBN 1-887128-50-6.
- John Newcombe explaining his friendship with George W. Bush and the night of the DUI charge
- Bush acknowledges 1976 DUI charge - CNN story, November 2000.
- Bush drinks fermented mares milk - Story on Bush drinking fermented mare's milk in Mongolia, November 2005.