After the US government failed to act swiftly in its response to the thousands of people displaced in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hollywood stars stepped in and held a telethon to raise money for the citizens whose lives were washed away and families torn apart. Those people were mostly black and Kanye West felt like because the victims were black they were being purposely neglected. So, during the telethon (you all know what happened) he said President George W. Bush "doesn't care about black people." Well! That announcement made everyone pay attention. It elicited cheers and jeers and, as we now find out, it hurt President Bush's feelings, too. In an interview with Matt Lauer to promote his memoir, Decision Points, the president goes so far to call Kanye's comment as the worst moment of his presidency. Not Sept 11.
MATT LAUER: About a week after the storm hit NBC aired a telethon asking for help for the victims of Katrina. We had celebrities coming in to ask for money. And I remember it vividly because I hosted it. And at one part of the evening I introduced Kanye West. Were you watching?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Nope.
MATT LAUER: You remember what he said?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I do. He called me a racist.
MATT LAUER: Well, what he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That’s - “he’s a racist.” And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.” It’s another thing to say, “This man’s a racist.” I resent it, it’s not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency.
MATT LAUER: This from the book. “Five years later I can barely write those words without feeling disgust.” You go on. “I faced a lot of criticism as President. I didn’t like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all time low.”
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah. I still feel that way as you read those words. I felt ‘em when I heard ‘em, felt ‘em when I wrote ‘em and I felt ‘em when I’m listening to ‘em.
MATT LAUER: You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your Presidency?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes. My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And– it was a disgusting moment.
MATT LAUER: I wonder if some people are going to read that, now that you’ve written it, and they might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this–
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Don’t care.
MATT LAUER: Well, here’s the reason. You’re not saying that the worst moment in your Presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You’re saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No - that– and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well. There’s a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.
If the Kanye admission wasn't enough, President Bush dropped a bombshell during the interview. He reveals that administration officials investigated a terrorist attack at the White House after 9/11 when bio-detectors indicated a potential botulism attack. "We had all been exposed to it … and had we inhaled it, we could easily be dead," he told Matt. Investigators tested the air on lab mice. After the mice survived, the scare was ruled a false alarm.
Kanye called into a Texas radio station this afternoon to respond.
“I definitely can understand the way he feels, to be accused of being a racist in any way, because the same thing happened to me, where I got accused of being a racist,” West replied, referring to the aftermath of his run-in with Taylor Swift last fall. “For both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America felt in that situation. With him, it was a lack of compassion of him not rushing, him not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans. For me, it was a lack of compassion of cutting someone off in their moment. But nonetheless, I think we’re all quick to pull a race card in America. And now I’m more open, and the poetic justice that I feel, to have went through the same thing that he went [through] — and now I really more connect with him on just a humanitarian level.”