George W. Bush will be remembered as the president who declared war on terror after the Twin Towers were blown up by Osama bin Laden’s airline-hijacking henchmen.
But a new PBS documentary reveals the early years in which the future 43rd president drank excessively and could only conquer alcoholism by turning to God, according to People magazine.
“He transitioned from a church-goer to a Christ-follower,” Bush’s childhood friend Charlie Younger says in American Experience. “He wanted to emulate the tenets and teachings of Jesus Christ, and he made a definite transformation there.”
It may seem difficult to believe that before ascending to the presidency, his life before age 40 was rocky.
After six years in the Texas Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Bush leveraged his family’s influence and finances to launch Arbusto Energy in 1977, an oil and gas exploration firm.
But he felt immense pressure to make “a big strike” and began to stagger under repeated failures, which stood in contrast to his father, who became vice-president of the United States under Ronald Reagan in 1981.
“I’m all name and no money,” Bush said at the time, according to the New York Times. Hit by a fall in oil prices, Bush sold his energy exploration company to Harken Energy in 1986.
“I think his friends and family, when he was nearly 40 years old, were worried about what he was going to do with his life,” Michael Gerson, Bush’s former chief speechwriter, said. “He drank too much and he had very little direction.”
On his 40th birthday, the crisis came to a head.
“He woke up hung-over. He had overdone it the night before and he didn’t feel good. I think Laura (his wife) told him that he could’ve behaved better,” Younger says. “He just said, ‘I don’t need this in my life. It’s robbing me of my energy. It’s taking too much of my time.’”
At the suggestions of friends, Bush began to attend a community Bible study, a weekly session similar to a “scriptural boot camp.” He’d reportedly met with preacher Billy Graham during the previous year, who encouraged him to deepen his relationship with God. Read the rest: George W. Bush saved from alcohol.