Discussing the G-8 summit with CBS's Jim Axelrod, Katie Couric on Wednesday night portrayed an “adamant” President George Bush as the antagonist causing Russian President Vladimir Putin to be “annoyed” about NATO plans to install a missile shield in Poland, a controversy, she fretted, that is distracting attention from global warming. “Economic issues and climate change were supposed to be the main topics,” Couric asserted on the CBS Evening News, “but they're being overshadowed by the dispute between President Bush and Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, over NATO plans to install a defensive missile shield in Eastern Europe,” a shield designed to protect Europe from missiles launched by rogue states.
Referring to Putin's threat to aim missiles at Europe, Couric pressed Axelrod, who was on scene in Rostock, Germany: “Putin is annoyed about this missile defense system. Why is President Bush so adamant about this?” Couric's next question displayed concern about the impact on an agreement on global warming: “I know that global warming was at the top of the agenda. Has that fallen off the radar screen, given all this chatter?”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided a transcript of the exchange on the June 6 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Turning overseas now, the G-8 Summit opened today at a resort in Germany. Economic issues and climate change were supposed to be the main topics. But they're being overshadowed by the dispute between President Bush and Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, over NATO plans to install a defensive missile shield in Eastern Europe. Late today, I spoke with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Axelrod, who's traveling with the President.
COURIC TO AXELROD: Jim, six years ago, President Bush said this of Vladimir Putin: "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul." Apparently, he liked what he saw then, but these two guys have not been getting along at all. And there's been a real war of words. What's going on?
JIM AXELROD: Well, you know, the President said that six years ago, and stands by the need to have some sort of personal relationship, but he's the first one to say the relationship is good, but complex. Look, they've hit a rough spot. They're going to try to iron some things out in their one-on-one meeting tomorrow. Then they'll get together for a weekend, the first weekend in July, in Kennebunkport, and hopefully continue to make strides in bringing this relationship back together.
COURIC: Apparently, Putin is annoyed about this missile defense system. Why is President Bush so adamant about this?
AXELROD: The missile defense system, Katie, to be clear, which would be based in Eastern Europe, the President says, is designed to keep rogue states -- like Iran, North Korea -- from being able to fire a missile that would hit Europe.
COURIC: And, Jim, I know that global warming was at the top of the agenda. Has that fallen off the radar screen, given all this chatter?
AXELROD: Look, Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is the host of the G-8. And global warming is critically important to her. Now, she's pushing a plan that would cap the emissions of the gases that cause global warming -- mandatory restrictions. And just today, he said he does not support Merkel's approach.
COURIC: Jim Axelrod reporting from Germany tonight. Jim, thank you. One reason President Bush opposes those mandatory reductions is they wouldn't apply to countries like China. Right now, the U.S. pumps out the most carbon dioxide, which causes global warming -- 22 percent of the world's share, in fact. But China is second, responsible for 16 percent, and, at the rate it's going, should overtake the U.S. in two to three years. All that pollution is creating a huge crisis, not just for China, but for the entire world, and could be on the way to a city near you.