The transcript of Larry King’s interview with Bill Clinton posted at CNN is in sharp contrast to the media’s disgraceful treatment of him during the Democratic primary and general election. Week after week, the punditry presented the most egregious caricatures of Clinton their limited abilities could produce. Of course, they had to do their level best to support the DNC in its attempts to destroy both Hillary and Bill – for example, resorting to outright lies in their efforts to smear them as racists - in order to assure that Obama, the least qualified candidate, would be swept into the presidency.
King’s interview presents the former president as he is: the smart, dignified international leader whose global initiative continues to confront the world’s most pressing problems.
The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity:
Larry King: The stimulus bill passed today [Tuesday]. The president signed it in Denver. Is it going to work?
Bill Clinton: I think it will do what it's designed to do. And I think it's important that the American people understand what it's designed to do.
It's supposed to do three things.
Number one, put money in people's pockets who are in trouble now -- extended unemployment benefits, the modest tax cuts, increase in food stamps. That will help grocery stores and other businesses and keep Americans who are good, honest, hardworking people afloat.
The second thing it's supposed to do is give a chunk of money to state and local governments, primarily for education and health. That is designed to make sure that they don't have to either have big tax increases or lay a million people off. Either one, in this economy, would be bad.
The third thing it will do is to create jobs through existing road and bridge contracts, through rail improvements, through modernization and especially through clean energy and energy efficiency.
So I think that given how fast it had to be done and the compromises that had to be made, it's quite a good bill. And I think it will do what it's designed to do.
King: John McCain and others on the other side of the ledger are saying that he didn't come forward enough to the Republicans, he didn't make them part of this Easter basket.
Clinton: Well, I disagree with that. I think the only way he could have gotten a lot of them to vote for him would be to accept their economic theory. Their economic theory is why we're in this mess in the first place.
King: Do you resent it when the Bush people say that this problem started with you, it started in your administration?
Clinton: Well, they don't have much evidence for that. I always answer, does anyone seriously believe if the team I had in place had been in place for the last eight years that this would have happened? And the answer to that is no. We had a much more vigorous regulatory environment with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We were watching these derivatives. I do think we should have done more on derivatives.
King: Before we move on to other things, should taxpayers be bailing out the automakers?
Clinton: We don't owe it to them. We should only do it if it's in our interests. I believe it's in our interests ...
King: We keep hearing about Obama's BlackBerry -- he's got a special BlackBerry now that doesn't have to be recorded into the White House. Do you have the number?
Clinton: No. No.
King: Would you like the number?
Clinton: I know that in the world that exists today, if you're hyper-busy, you need them. Hillary lives on hers.
King: Do you have one?
Clinton: I don't. I like being able to concentrate on what I'm doing one thing at a time, you know. And I think if I had one, I'm so hyper and always trying to do three things at once, I'd be worse than he is or worse than she is. So I don't have one.
King: What's Chelsea going to be? Is she interested in government?
Clinton: Yes, she's interested in government. She cares about public health. She thinks that America has still got a ways to go to develop an affordable, high quality health care system. And I think she wants to be a part of it.
King: Sarah Palin, net plus, net gain?
Clinton: I think she was a net plus before the failure of Lehman Brothers and the collapse of the stock market, because she gave (McCain) credibility on the Republican right. Through no fault of her own, she became a negative on September 15th, because nobody on their team had any economic experience, and the burden against the Republicans was overwhelming.