President Carter Tells All on Three Gorges Disaster Relief Trip

Washington, DC March 3, 2010 -- Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush had "differing views" during their recently completed efforts to raise funds for the victims of the Three Gorges Flood. Jimmy Carter elaborated on what those differing views were during a live interview last night with Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes.

While President Carter was pleased with the $267 million donated by Americans as a result of the work coordinated by President Bush and himself, Carter appears to be more relieved to not have to work side-by-side with President Bush any longer.

"When President Obama called and asked me to work with President Bush in leading American efforts to assist the Chinese I immediately thought back to what a wonderful experience [former president] Bill Clinton told me he had had with Bush Sr. during their time working together on the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts a few years back," Carter told Ms. Stahl. "Plus, I had heard stories about how fun George W. was to be around."

President Barack Obama announced that the two former presidents would lead the U.S. efforts shortly after the Three Gorges Dam collapsed on October 13, 2009 killing 220 thousand people and leaving nearly 13 million people displaced. Flooding along the Yangtze River claimed lives up to 300 kilometers away in Wuhan.

Carter said that things started off badly from the beginning and gradually got worse.

"As soon as I got out of the car at Andrews Air Force Base for our flight to Nanjing, I was greeted by President Bush yelling ' c'mon Mr. Peace Prize, let's get a move on' from the top of the steps to Air Force One," President Carter began.

Following a fly-over of the flooded areas in Sandouping, Yichang, and Hubei provinces they landed in Nanjing for their first meeting with Chinese officials, at which point President Carter finally realized what he was in for.

“The first thing George said when we disembarked the plane and had completed the introductions was a joke about it being a shame that we hadn't brought the Guinness Book of World Records people along, as they [the Chinese] certainly possessed the world's largest rice paddy now," Carter said while shaking his head. "He told that joke to everybody over there and confided in me that he was very proud that he had come up with it all by himself without any help from Karl Rove [editors note: Karl Rove is currently in federal prison five years into his 23 year sentence on disclosing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame]. I thought it was tasteless, considering the fact that international dive teams were still recovering hundreds of bodies a day at that time."

Carter also shared other Bush actions that led to awkward moments.

According to President Carter, "We had a lovely meal prepared for us by some of the local peasants who had lost all their belongings and many loved ones in the flood. These people had scraped together what they could find in order to prepare a wonderful, traditional meal for us. What was his response, you wonder? He didn't say 'thank you' or anything. Rather, he told them through the translator that the meal they had prepared and served us, 'sure ain't no barbequed beef brisket fajita. Now y'all should come to my ranch in Crawford and see the spread that Laura puts out.' Can you believe that? Chinese officials were scrambling around trying to find out what they could do to satisfy him."

Carter related that much of the time he was stuck with repairing damage in the wake of George W. Bush.

"He's horrible with names to begin with and then he hears their name and....blank. A short while later he will ask us, '[W]hat did Bruce Lee over there just say?'"

Additionally, Carter assessed, "The Chinese just didn't get his nicknames, arm punching, back slapping and butt pats. I cannot blame them, however, and tend to feel that his type of locker room behavior should not be used out on the diplomatic trail."

President Carter added that he couldn't help getting the feeling that President Bush didn't really understand what a crisis they were facing.

"He was continually plugging his book Get On With It and attempting to promote reconstruction deals for Halliburton and others, persumably due to his current position as an employee of the Carlyle Group. It was shameful," Carter concluded.

President Carter concluded the interview by stating, "It still amazes me that a man can be President of the United States of America for eight years and not have any grasp on how to be respectful of other people and cherish different cultures and history. Absolutely remarkable!"

By Raoul Thibodeaux, Avant News Staff Writer

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