Friday, July 07, 2006

President Has a Smooth Ride on 'Larry King Live'

Two kinds of celebrities go on "Larry King Live" on CNN: those with something to sell and those with something to hide.

Al Gore and Brandon Routh, the young star of the newly released "Superman Returns," recently appeared on the show to promote their new movies. The second category includes guests like Star Jones Reynolds, Mary Kay Letourneau, and, right after his indictment in 2004, Kenneth L. Lay of Enron. "Larry King Live" is the first stop in any damage control operation — a chance to explain oneself to the least contentious journalist in the land.

And that is why President Bush invited the CNN talk show host to the White House on his 60th birthday. The standoff with North Korea over its missile tests, the war in Iraq and ever-sliding ratings in the polls have given the president little reason to celebrate. Mr. King gave the president a chance to defend his policies without risk of interruption or follow-up.

At times, Mr. King even provided the president with answers. "You've always had a lot of compassion for the Mexican people," the interviewer interjected in a discussion of the president's immigration bill. Mr. Bush seemed a little surprised, but grateful. "Yes, sir!" he replied.

The hourlong interview was taped Thursday in the Blue Room of the White House with Mr. King crouched in the foreground across a small round table from the president and Laura Bush, dressed in his trademark suspenders and cowboy boots.



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