In an interview for this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is asked what he thinks of Sen. John McCain's confession that his grasp of economics is faint. "Yeah," he replies. "That's a great place to start from, isn't it?"
Asked about McCain's "straight talk" reputation, O'Neill responds, "I don't want a straight talker. I want a leader."
On his falling out with Vice President Cheney -- O'Neill wrote a book highly critical of certain aspects of the administration -- he says that when they are at the same events the both do their best "to ignore each other." They were both pallbearers as Gerald Ford's funeral and never said a "hello."
Does he feel bitter about serving in the Bush administration? He answers no, but quickly adds: "I'm thankful I got fired when I did, so that I didn't have to be associated with what they subsequently did."
He also admits that he has gotten better tables in New York restaurants because when he makes reservations they may think he is the former Yankee, Paul O'Neill.
Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq.