Behind the Curtain of the Bush-Cheney White House: Who Was Really Calling the Shots?

Author Peter Baker documents how Bush and Cheney drifted apart over the course of the administration
4:52 | 10/28/13

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Transcript for Behind the Curtain of the Bush-Cheney White House: Who Was Really Calling the Shots?
Welcome of the fine print. I'm Jeff -- today we're joined by Peter Baker author of the new and fascinating book. Days of fire. Taking a firsthand look at what was really going on in the Bush Administration. Particular the relationship with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Peter thank you very much for joining us -- one thing that surprised you. In your reporting of this book that you didn't know what the time when you were a reporter for the Washington Post and the New York -- -- I think what I am surprised by I was just how far apart President Bush and Vice President Cheney had drifted by the end. But the administration but we actually go back and do the research and talk with people you realized they were on opposite ends by the end on so many things I ran. North Korea Syria eleven on Russia federal spending the auto bailout climate change -- rights gay rights. All these different issues even before they get the Scooter Libby pardon issue. They are on opposite sides. How much to think -- that was compensation for the first term with the president keenly aware of the perception that he sort of being under the control of Vice President Cheney -- President Bush bristled. At this notion that he was somehow. Puppet that that Cheney was pulling the strings of back from Vice President Cheney -- to him before the 2004 elections has looked. -- -- off the ticket you for somebody else on if you want no problem I understand that may be confused with you seriously -- to -- he said he went on three different times you can think the president was to him serious the first two times we went back. But President Bush thought about it he did he -- took a few weeks to think about even came up with a replacement senator senator Bill Frist. But we really nasty to me was what he said about why he decided think about it because among other reasons he said it was show who was really in charge. Clearly rankled him to -- suggesting he wasn't did you see any evidence of the vice president. Seeing President Bush as naive as -- -- president Cheney understood the President Bush didn't have a a lot of seasoning on national security early on. I think he respected him but he he did see a place for himself as first among equals -- advisor to really shape the direction -- the administration. He managed to outmaneuver. Rivals like Condi Rice Colin Powell and so on of the -- in the beginning. But eventually you know. -- bush really began even in -- account of this feeling we're confident his own judgments less reliant on. On -- around him -- anything that you discovered in your reporting and reading this book about Laura Bush and her impact. On the president -- they really -- example of that when Vice President Cheney. Has this shooting accident he accidentally hunting expedition -- friend in the face. They didn't at first put that out to the press and Laura Bush is actually in your. And she hears about for the Secret Service. And she immediately tells her aides call back the White House called of the to the staff to make sure they get this -- that he understands if you don't get out fast it's going to become a big big problem for them and did in fact become -- bigger problem for them was a bit of a touchstone moment in terms of the relationship between a President Bush and Vice President Cheney was there more distance of between them after that I think that was of an important moment it was part of continue moving -- that was. Pushing them further away I think President Bush is frustrated he had a very bad fall. Iraq is bad Katrina obviously Harriet Miers and interior heading into the spring and he thought finally getting a few weeks and things are going -- calm and then suddenly this happens it throws them off course again. He's frustrated that it took four days. For the -- was to kind of come out basically sort of apologize and explain when it happened which then of course. And in this story so you know by itself it was just a small thing but it was one more step along the path. -- -- bush presidency in real time. Was a very polarizing presidency do you think that the -- polarization of that. Means that everyone's mind is made up or does the benefit of a few years you know the rear view -- actually allow the public perhaps to change -- I think there's a little softening toward President Bush I wouldn't overstate that. His poll numbers today show about 49% of Americans view him favorably verse 46% looking at him unfavorably. As the first positive balance he's had about eight years what is one thing buried inside here -- people even if they weren't fans of President Bush's. Might -- interest -- -- -- there -- a lot of different moments in -- that to that we haven't seen before a fight at the very -- over whether to have a cap and trade climate change policy how President Bush came to it to his -- Program to help people in Africa. Moments where he's. Fighting with the vice president over Lebanon Russia there's some a lot of conversations in -- between bush and who they've never been revealed before we see Bush's increasing frustration with. The Russian leader one point says it's like trying to argue an eighth grader. So there's a lot of different moments I think it will surprise people as they take a look at this chock full of great things Peter thank you very much I appreciate appreciate it. That's all for this edition of the fine print for ABC news and Yahoo! News I'm just felony you can follow me on Twitter FaceBook all week long catch up felony. We'll see you next.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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