TODAY   |  May 05, 2010

Laura Bush on best, worst day in White House

While fielding viewer questions on TODAY, former first lady reveals her highs and lows in the White House. Also, she answers what she misses most.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

ANN CURRY, anchor: Back now with more of TODAY on this Wednesday morning, the 5th of May 2010 . And we're going to be talking with the first lady now, Laura Bush . She's written a revealing memoir about her family , her move to -- from Texas to Washington , the tragedy in her past and how she's handled the criticism of her husband while in the White House . And Laura Bush is here with her daughter Jen -- one of her two daughters -- Jenna Bush Hager , who's a contributing correspondent for TODAY. And they graciously stuck around to help answer e-mails, because we got a lot of people responding to the e-mail we just did. And one of the ways that people responded, Mrs. Bush , is via Twitter .

Ms. LAURA BUSH: Oh, they did? Great.

CURRY: Do you tweet?

Ms. BUSH: Yes, I am now.

JENNA BUSH HAGER reporting: My mom is on Twitter .

CURRY: You're a tweeter.

Ms. BUSH: I'm on Twitter now with my new book. I'm going to twitter during the book tour.

CURRY: Well, there you go. Well, in fact...

Ms. BUSH: So I'll be twittering that I was on the TODAY show today.

CURRY: OK, that's good.

HAGER: What's your tweet name?

Ms. BUSH: I don't know what my tweet name is.

HAGER: Well, we got to find that out.

CURRY: All right, well, here's one...

Ms. BUSH: Laura Bush?

CURRY: Well, here's a tweet name and it's @photogal15, and she writes, "What would people be surprised to know about the former first lady? Best dish she cooks, favorite fast food and favorite musician?" You want to take this one?

HAGER: Yeah, I'll answer this, because I think she'll answer it incorrectly.


HAGER: Well, as far as favorite fast food , we weren't allowed to eat fast food growing up, so I think she wouldn't even know a fast food restaurant. And in fact, when we were little we said, `We want to have our birthday party at Old MacDonald 's," and so she said, `Are you -- do you really? OK.' And she took us and we said, `Where are all the animals?'

Ms. BUSH: They thought it was a farm.

HAGER: Because we'd heard all the hype. Favorite musician, she's a Rastafarian .

Ms. BUSH: Bob Marley 's a favorite.

HAGER: She loves Bob Marley .

CURRY: Bob Marley.

Ms. BUSH: Along with a lot of others.

HAGER: She used to rock us to "Rock a Baby" when we were little , Bob Marley -- a Bob Marley song. She also used to think, and this is very juicy, that Van Morrison would be her second husband. She loves Van Morrison .

CURRY: Van Morrison.

HAGER: He has -- doesn't look too good. Well, that's rude to say, but...

CURRY: Well, well, no, no, but let's...

HAGER: ... back in the day .

CURRY: But let's talk about this music, because you have quite a collection.

Ms. BUSH: I do, I have a very large collection of music.

CURRY: Beyond Bob Marley.

Ms. BUSH: I have all my old records , real records , that Barbara -- and so I have -- still have a turntable so they can play those.

CURRY: So who else besides Bob Marley do you think?

Ms. BUSH: Well, I like a lot of country music as well. I love Faron Young , George Jones . I got to introduce George Jones when he won the Kennedy Center honor , and that was a thrill to get to meet him. I have a big...

HAGER: Willie.

Ms. BUSH: ...wide collection. Of course, Willie Nelson .

HAGER: Paul Simon.

CURRY: Paul Simon.

Ms. BUSH: I write in the book that one of my dad's favorite songs was "London Homesick Blues," Jerry Jeff Walker , so.

HAGER: And the first concert she took us to we were in first grade, was Paul Simon for his "Graceland" tour.

CURRY: Well, there you go. Bob Marley and Laura Bush. I just don't imagine you...

Ms. BUSH: Who would have thunk it?

CURRY: Yes. Bebopping and singing to your girls Bob Marley . OK, so that was a good Twitter question. We've got another one from @truehockeymom, and she writes, "How did you handle the teenage years and all the attitude teenagers give? I have five boys, I'm told boys are easier than girls."

Ms. BUSH: Well, I don't know about that since I didn't have a boy. But I will tell you, nothing is more intimidating than two 13-year-old girls.

HAGER: Mom, we didn't give any attitude. What are you talking about?

HAGER: There's nothing wrong with a little sass.

CURRY: But what would you say , though? I mean, how do you -- I mean, I don't know if you want to say this -- but there are people out there who'd love your advice .

Ms. BUSH: I think one way you do handle it is with humor, and that helps and it helps that their dad was funny and liked to be funny. And he could sort of diffuse the tension when teenage girls were making things tense around the house .

HAGER: Ma -- making things fun around the house .

CURRY: Does it ever end, is what I'm wondering?

Ms. BUSH: It never ends, as you can tell.

HAGER: Come on, that's not true. We're good.

CURRY: OK, I think I better switch over to an e-mail from Connie in Cleveland . It's a serious question. She's asking, "What was the best and worse day in the White House ," Mrs. Bush?

Ms. BUSH: Well, that's a very difficult question. Of course, the worst day was September 11th . I mean, that changed everything. And the whole grief of it. I mean, I felt like just -- I went into a huge mourning over the -- everything that happened and watching it all. And then meeting in the few days, the, you know, the next day and the day after and the day after, the families who lost somebody on September 11th . And then I don't know what I would say. There were many really great days for the best day. We got to host Pope Benedict on his birthday at the White House ...

CURRY: Made him a cake.

Ms. BUSH: ...and had a cake for him. And that was a really beautiful -- 13,000 people showed out on -- showed up on the White House lawn to meet him. And then we had so many other great world leaders that came that it was fun to know. But we also had fun family times. We always had George 's birthday party on July 4th because his birthday's the 6th of July. So we'd watch the fireworks from the White House and Jenna and Barbara would invite all their friends . And then all of our best friends would come from around the country . And that was fun.

CURRY: We've got an e-mail, it's anonymous . "What do you miss most about being in the White House ?"

Ms. BUSH: Well, I miss the people that work there. I miss the staff...

CURRY: You miss them most?

Ms. BUSH: ...the butlers that we know very well, and I always joke and say I miss the chef the most. George does, too.

CURRY: Because you have to cook now.

Ms. BUSH: But I miss all the people, that's who you miss the most when you leave.

CURRY: @ XOKathleen asks and on Twitter , "Who's your favorite president, Mrs. Bush ?"

Ms. BUSH: Well, that's easy. I have two favorite presidents.

HAGER: You can guess -- I bet you can guess.

Ms. BUSH: President Bush and President Bush.

CURRY: And yours as well?

HAGER: Oh, yeah. If I did...

Ms. BUSH: Well, I did -- I love to read about Lincoln , and George and I both looked at Lincoln 's life a lot while we lived at the White House , because the -- he lived at such a really terrible time for our country when we were fighting and so divided with each other in a war. And so many people died on both sides. And he still kept his sense of humor . He was funny still, and it was -- it's just an inspiration to read about him.

CURRY: I imagine your senses of humor kind of keep you going and buoy you as you move forward...

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

CURRY: this new time in your life.

Ms. BUSH: Mm-hmm. Thanks so much.

CURRY: Laura Bush , such a pleasure. Thank you so much .