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Bush-Lauer Ratings Bomb: What’s an Ex-President Got to Do?

“Decision Points” interview on NBC lands in fourth

He opened up, he teared up, he got angry about Kanye West. But despite plenty of drama in his interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer, former President George W. Bush scored few viewers.

His interview about his memoir, "Decision Points," finished fourth in its time slot, which wasn't an easy one. ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" scored a 4.2 rating, Fox's "House" a 3.7, and CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" a 3.5. The interview earned only a 1.7. 

The NBC News special didn't provide much of a lead-in for the rest of young NBC's lineup: "The Event" (1.7) and "Chase" (1.2) scored their lowest ratings since their debuts.

Bush was one of the most-sought interview subjects of the year, and the president will continue to make the news rounds in the coming weeks. Scoring the time with the ex-chief executive was considered a major score for Lauer, since a first major interview with the immediate past president would normally fall to one of the network nightly news anchors.

The low ratings must be especially confounding for NBC, because it wasn't as if the Bush interview was dull. It included Bush taking offense at West's post-Katrina claim that he didn't care about black people, his defense of his anti-terror tactics, and, in one especially heated moment, his discussion of torture.

Watch as Bush pointedly declines to say how terror suspects were and weren't treated during his administration, citing national security: