Never one to mince words, President Carter was on CNN's Larry King Live last night expressing some thoughts on important subjects. While he reiterated his disagreements with Bush's Middle East policies, he kept his comments limited to policy.
However, the former president let it be known what he thinks of Vice President Dick Cheney and his posturing on Iraq and those that disagree with the administration.
Here's an excerpt from the transcript of last night's show:
KING: We're back with President Jimmy Carter. Your reaction to Vice President Cheney's assertion that the criticism of Iraq, the Iraq war, emboldens United States enemies and makes allies doubt American resolve.
CARTER: Well, the vice president unfortunately has been consistently very careless with the truth. He still maintains some preposterous comments and attitudes toward the origins of the Iraqi war, the circumstances in Iraq now and he's had a policy in my opinion of deliberately trying to mislead the American people by making untrue statements and there's no reason to give any credence to his ridiculous claims that you've just described.
KING: But why -- so you're questioning his motives? Do you think he doesn't really agree with what we're doing?
CARTER: I really don't know what his real policies or beliefs are but I do know that he's been most consistent since the very origin of the Iraqi war in deliberately misleading the American people by making false statements, statements that I'm sure he knew were not true.And this is a very serious thing for a highly placed official in America to do and even now he still will not admit, for instance, that Saddam Hussein was not at least partially possible for the 9/11 attacks, when the president himself has said that's a false statement.And to constantly say that anybody that criticizes any aspect of our misguided policies in Iraq are unpatriotic and imply our condoning of terrorist attacks is completely ridiculous and ought to be refuted forcefully by everybody.
And it was very pleasing to my ears to hear the former president weigh on America's dependence on foreign oil, and the need to be proactive in dealing with our energy problems.
KING: Doesn't America's need for foreign oil impact all of our decision making in this?
CARTER: Yes, it does. I think we are now quite reluctant to take a bold stand for democratization or for peace in the Middle East and so forth if it would alienate major oil suppliers and that includes many of the Gulf States. Obviously it includes Saudi Arabia. It even includes countries in Africa like Nigeria. It even affects our relationship with countries in Latin America that provide oil, including Venezuela.But there's no doubt that our over dependence on foreign oil is a very major problem.
When I became president, Larry, we were importing about eight million barrels of oil a day. We spent four years putting into law some major conservation measures. And within five years after we passed those bills we had dropped down to about five million barrels of imported oil per year.We are now back up to 12 million barrels of oil imported and a lot of that has been caused by an abandonment of the requirement for efficiency of American motor vehicles. That's a major unresolved tapping of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.And now with the Hummers and other deliberately gas guzzlers that the American government has endorsed it makes it almost a farce to say that we have a good energy policy.
We also ought in other ways do things that would save energy by producing more from solar power.
But I would say the major unaddressed opportunity is to reduce the -- increase the gas mileage of the gas guzzlers that America is producing. This has not only hurt us in energy levels but it's made very serious inroads into the capabilities and the status of say General Motors and Ford Motor Company that have adopted American policies and are still producing gas guzzlers and now their bonds are junk bonds, they're laying off thousands of people whereas people who are producing more efficient automobiles are taking over a lot of the market. So, we've just had a very catastrophic, I think, policy in America of continuing to endorse gas guzzlers as a symbol of -- and a production priority of America.