George Clooney and George 41 Join Forces

ByABC News via logo

Dec. 21, 2006 — -- The two Georges make an odd couple, but the work they're doing together is nothing short of amazing.

Actor George Clooney and former President George H.W. Bush have joined forces to help the residents of Cameron, La., which was nearly swept away last year by Hurricane Rita.

Though they come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Clooney and Bush have put their ideological differences aside to help restore the small town of 10,000 people and rebuild its hospital.

ABC's Diane Sawyer traveled to Cameron to talk to Clooney and Bush and find out what's driving their will to help.

First, though, she talked politics with the Georges. Sawyer asked Bush about his thoughts on the situation in Iraq.

Sawyer: Just a question about Iraq. … We're talking about calling up additional new troops in order just to reinforce the services right now. … Facing 3,000 deaths in Iraq, what would you want to say most to those families right now?

President Bush: Well, I'd say I support the president, and I don't want to go into what's going on and re-evaluating the policies and all that stuff.

I will say I'm a very strong believer in Bob Gates coming in here because I've worked with him so closely up at Texas A&M University. You had a nice try getting me in these issues, but I stay out of 'em. I really do. I don't go to Washington. … I don't do op-ed pieces. … And it's better just to support our sons who are in, and equally, the three kids that aren't in public life.

Sawyer also brought up Bush's breakdown before Congress earlier this month while talking about his son Jeb, the outgoing governor of Florida, and asked what was behind his emotion.

President Bush: You know, I was embarrassed about that. But the communications had been such from people that -- we understand that you love your kids and they're under fire. You know? So I don't think I want to do it again, but. … I was embarrassed, kind of ashamed.

And then after the reaction from friends, political allies and political opponents came in, I said, 'Well, maybe it's all right when you get to be old to sort of let the tears flow. That's the way life is. You care about your kids.' It's all about that now for Barbara and me.

Sawyer asked Clooney whether he had his eye on a career in politics, but the actor insisted he was happy with his current status.

Clooney: There is no politics in my future. … No, there really isn't. My father ran for Congress, as you know. I'm having a really enjoyable time being able to -- not have to compromise, as you have to in politics, constantly. … And be able to be single-minded. … I can walk into the national security council and talk to them and say, 'Explain to me how this is allowed? How Darfur is allowed to continue,' and I think that that's easier for me. I'm not very good at the compromising part.

But Clooney was able to compromise when he joined forces with Bush. The two are passionate about reviving Cameron.

Sawyer: So how did this come about?

President Bush: This is about saving and bringing to life a hospital that was devastated in the storm, Hurricane Rita. And I thought we can add a little, little spice to this event. And I was right, I'll tell you.

Clooney: I think we're at a time right now where we really do have to spend more time finding the things that we all agree on. … I grew up as the son of a newsman. When things lose their news cycle after a period of time. … We just sort of assume everything's OK.

You know, they're not looking for a handout, they're looking for a handoff in this. And I think it really helps when you're here to talk about that. And that's why I'm here.

Sawyer: A question: This morning we read in the news reports that a lot of money from tsunami relief is still sitting in bank accounts. And I think only 30 percent of the houses have been rebuilt, and the money is still sitting there. What can be done to reassure people that when they help and they open up their hearts and pocketbooks that there is accountability?

President Bush: I'll refer you to [former President] Bill Clinton, and I think he will say that we have put into place on the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund the safeguards to guarantee that the money gets to. … Where we want it to go. We've guarded against it here on Katrina and Rita. I'm sure of that.

While working to revive Cameron, Clooney has been able to learn a lot about Bush. But there's one question he's always wanted to ask the former president.

Sawyer: What's the question you've always wanted to ask the former president?

President Bush: Don't ask about Barbara.

Clooney: No, I'm going to ask. … How's Bill Clinton's golf game?

President Bush: It's an interesting game, the way he plays it. And he loved it! I like playing with people that are enthusiastic about the game. And sometimes he can be hot. And sometimes he can be worth not a darn!

Clooney: There's a story out there that he almost hit you with a golf ball. Is there any truth to that?

President Bush: No, no, it came over my head. I was his partner, and incoming fire coming over my head twice, but I forgave him for that. We were trying to win this hole. But I like playing with him.

Find out how you can help hurricane victims by visiting the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

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