BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Bill Ruckelshaus, when you think back to your days in Washington, what do you remember the most?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I think I would -- I would remember the excitement. I find being in the high level of American government to be exciting, challenging, interesting and fulfilling. Those are four things about jobs I think are important. And in the government, I have found I can get more fulfillment out of what I'm doing than in any other job. But it -- when I think back on it, it's the excitement.
LAMB: And Jill Ruckelshaus, how about you?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: There are an enormous number of interesting people in Washington, D.C. I kind of miss that. What I discovered when we moved to Seattle, which is a stunningly beautiful place geographically, and everyone here is interested in the outdoors and involved in some way -- in Washington, I noticed when you're with people for dinner or at a party or something, people love to talk about what they do, or even the business of the city, which is politics. And out here, you're very often talking about what you're doing when you're not working, you're sailing or skiing or hiking or doing something else. It's just a difference, but I loved Washington, D.C. It's a beautiful city, and we have lots of good friends there still.
LAMB: When did you serve on the Civil Rights Commission?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, let's see. I was appointed by Carter, and I was fired Reagan. So in those years.
LAMB: What is that -- how did you get the appointment from Jimmy Carter?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I think probably through people in his administration that -- a requirement was you needed so many majority party, minority party representatives, and there was a Republican slot open, so my name was moved forward.
LAMB: So you were a Republican.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Yes.
LAMB: When you were appointed.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I was.
LAMB: And why were you fired?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, maybe because I wasn't Republican enough.
LAMB: What did that mean?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I disagreed with some of the social policies during the Reagan administration. I didn't think there was enough emphasis on Civil Rights issues, black and white disparities. And the Civil Rights Commission had historically always been aimed in that direction, and during the time I served, the majority party, then the Republicans, the presidential party, was the majority in the Civil Rights commission, and we weren't doing what I thought we ought to be doing, which was addressing those issues.
LAMB: Did that give you any problems on the -- with your job? You were back for the second time in the Reagan administration.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Yes. No, it didn't. Jill's tenure on the Civil Rights Commission was very fulfilling to her. She enjoyed it a lot. And it was -- I would have preferred to have not done that, and I let them know. But it was a situation that she had to face.
LAMB: How did you end up serving as EPA director twice?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: The first time, I was appointed by Nixon in 1970, when the agency was first created. And then 10 years later, Reagan, when he was president, asked me to come back because my predecessor and my successor three times removed, Anne Burford, had gotten into a lot of trouble at the agency, and public furor broke out. And the president asked me to come back and take over again.
LAMB: How long have you two been married?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Forty -- how many years?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Since '62.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Forty-two years.
LAMB: How'd you meet?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: That's a very interesting story. I finished graduate school, went to work in Europe. I hadn't been to Europe during my undergraduate days, and I wanted to get a job there, so I found a job teaching in a private girls' school in Switzerland. Sounded ideal to me, and in fact, it was wonderful. And I was there for two years. Then when I came home during the Kennedy administration, I really came home very excited to join the Peace Corps. And my Sunday school teacher called me up one day after -- shortly after I got back and said she wanted to introduce me to somebody. She was a woman I just loved and was a friend of Bill's. And so she essentially arranged a blind date for both of us at his aunt and uncle's house. That's how we met, on a Sunday-school-teacher-arranged date. And it turned out just great.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: She fell in love with my father.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I did! Really. I came home from that date, and my mother said, What did you think of Bill Ruckelshaus? And I said, Well, I'm in love with his father, but Bill is...
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Square (ph).
LAMB: Where was it you met?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: At my aunt's house.
LAMB: In what city?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Indianapolis, Indiana. We were both from there.
LAMB: Both from Indianapolis. And where did you go to school?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I went to Indiana University in Bloomington. Then I went to graduate school in Boston.
LAMB: And Bill Ruckelshaus, you went to school where?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I went to Princeton undergraduate and Harvard law school.
LAMB: Whenever you Google the name Ruckelshaus, you always come up with "Saturday night massacre," as I'm sure you know by now. October 21, 1973.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Right.
LAMB: Before I ask you to tell the story, I want to ask Jill Ruckelshaus to tell us what she remembers about the "Saturday night massacre."
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: That very night -- there was kind of a wonderful (ph) leading-up to it because Bill had been in the Justice Department, and part of that, running the FBI, and he knew a lot of things that hadn't been made public yet. So there was a -- there was a long run-up to that in my knowledge about it.
But it was on Saturday, and Bill had gone to the office, and I was home. We had five children. And a friend of ours had invited us to come to dinner down in Georgetown and bring our children. And so I met Bill there, and he essentially told me what had happened during the day. And the people who were hosting us had the usual Washington connections with newspapers and columnists, and they had no idea, of course. It hadn't been made public. So we were all sitting in the living room, talking, the grown-ups, about that, and the children were upstairs playing with her children and listening to television. And one of them came running down the stairs and said, Dad's been fired!
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: And then the whole story came out.
LAMB: All right, Bill Ruckelshaus, tell the story like you're talking to someone that doesn't even know who Richard Nixon was, doesn't know what Watergate was and certainly doesn't know what the "Saturday night massacre" was. What were you doing?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I was the No. 2 person in the Justice Department, deputy attorney general.
LAMB: Who was the attorney general?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Elliot Richardson was the attorney general. This had all transpired over the last several months, as the result of the president being increasingly under fire in early 1973, right after he had been elected in 1972, because of the revelations that kept coming out about the Watergate break-in and the related charges.
He had first -- the president -- asked me to go to the FBI and become the director. I told him that had not been a lifelong ambition of mine, that I would be glad to go over there -- I was at EPA at the time -- while we found a successor and would help run a recruitment process for successor. And Richardson, in the meantime, had appointed Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to look into the Watergate crimes. The Senate would not confirm Richardson unless he agreed to a special prosecutor, and that was a kind of negotiated position between the Senate and the White House. And Archibald Cox, who had been a colleague of Richardson's in Boston, at Harvard, was chosen.
I was at the FBI, as the director, essentially, the investigative arm for Cox, as the prosecutor, for several months before Richardson was confirmed. Cox showed up before Richardson's confirmation became final. In the summer of 1973, we found a successor to Gray, who had been nominated by the president, but had gotten in a jam himself over some Watergate-related issues. Clarence Kelley became the director of the FBI in July of 1973. I was out of a job.
I was appointed Elliot Richardson's special assistant, and through his intervention and the president's decision, I was made deputy attorney general in late September of 1973. That whole summer we spent investigating the accusations against Spiro Agnew, the sitting vice president, who was accused of taking bribes by some people through a prosecutor's office in Baltimore. That was a very intensive several-month effort on the part of the Justice Department, myself and Richardson, Jonathan Moore, who was an aide of Richardson. Dick Darman, who was subsequently in the White House, was also involved in that. It resulted in Agnew's resignation. And in the meantime, I was confirmed as the deputy attorney general in late September.
Right after Agnew resigned, on a Saturday, the president announced that Gerald Ford was going to be his successor as vice president, assuming his confirmation by the Congress. I was on the way to Grand Rapids to oversee the FBI investigation of Ford, stopped by Richardson's office on a Monday and told him I was going to Grand Rapids. The FBI had descended on Grand Rapids. It was just unearthing everything that it could find to make sure he was as represented, but it was throwing the community into a state of real anxiety.
And Richardson, as I was about to leave, said, We've got an even worse problem than the vice president. I said, That's not possible. And he said, Yes, it is. The White House seems determined to fire Archibald Cox. And I remember saying, Don't worry about it. They'll never do that. There would be too much of a public furor if they tried. Shows how little I knew.
Well, I stayed in touch with him on the phone while I was in Grand Rapids, and the situation was clearly deteriorating, so I came back on Wednesday of that same week. And during the course of the next three or four days, the pressure on Richardson, on the attorney general, to fire Archibald Cox, from the president, from Alexander Haig, who was then his chief of staff, intensified, until finally, on Friday night, the president was obviously determined to fire Cox.
Cox had been trying to get some tapes that the president had, the so-called Watergate tapes, indicating what he had been talking about in the Oval Office while all this alleged cover-up was transpiring. The Supreme Court had ordered the president to turn the tapes over to Archibald Cox. It was at that point that the president wanted to fire him. Cox refused to turn the -- refused to not request the tapes being turned over at a press conference that morning, in a sense -- on Saturday morning -- defying the president.
The president then asked Elliot Richardson to fire him -- fire Cox. He refused. He subsequently asked me, and I told him the same thing, that I had been thinking about this all week. I was aware the pressure was building, and I'd decided I didn't want to do it. It was -- in my judgment, Cox had done everything he was supposed to do as special prosecutor.
In fact, when I was the FBI director, every time the White House would call and say Cox was getting into areas peripheral to the White House, he should -- or Watergate, he should pull back, I'd tell Cox that and he pulled back. He didn't continue. He was careful about what he was restricting his investigation to.
So I refused. And at that point, both Richardson and I sent a letter to the president, resigning. Robert Bork, who was the solicitor general, third in command, agreed with the president to fire Cox. And that evening, when Jill talked about the time we were at our friends' house, Haig announced that Richardson's resignation had been accepted, and I was fired. The next day, the president had a press conference, and he announced that both of our resignations had been accepted. So whichever group I'm speaking to, whether pro or con, I was either fired or resigned.
LAMB: Mrs. Ruckelshaus, what do you remember about the feeling of -- here goes the vice president and the president deep into all this and eventually, of course, resigned. What were you thinking during those...
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: It seemed so unthinkable to me, that the leadership of our country, those two top positions, could be involved in this kind of an issue. The vice president was clearly guilty of undeniable, documentable impropriety. And the president denied -- and I was at that time working in the White House. I was working in the office of Anne Armstrong, who was the special counsel to the president. And there were, as there are in every administration, wonderful people who'd come to Washington, thrilled to have a chance to serve the country and be part of an administration.
And there were people like that in the Nixon administration that I knew in the White House and the Old Executive Office Building, and they couldn't believe that charges were being brought against the president. You always imagine that there are people further down the line who just don't get the message or who, in their zealousness, go overboard and do something that -- unthinkable. But you just can't imagine that the president would be part of that. And it seemed to me that, surely, it couldn't end in impeachment. But the evidence was there, and it had to happen.
And what I remember most from that, Brian, the most warm and gratifying thing from that was that Bill and Elliot Richardson received thousands of hand-written letters from people all over the country who were so disturbed by what had happened, the shaking of the -- what they felt was the bedrock of the country in these two acts of misfeasance. And they wrote to Bill and they wrote to Elliot, and honestly, thousands of letters would come every day for weeks, just from individuals writing to say, essentially, to Elliot and Bill, Thank you. Thank you. We need people who will say, Enough. Not everything is all right to do in the name of the presidency.
LAMB: Now, Vice President Agnew never admitted, did he, that he actually took money.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Never (ph) did. There was a 40-page affidavit that was filed with the court, when the court had accepted his nolo contendere plea. And at the same time, he resigned. He subsequently denied that he'd ever done any of these things, that he was drummed out of office as a result of the FBI trying to make amends for having blown the Watergate investigation. That was his claim. He was simply wrong.
The 40-page affidavit is a matter of public record. The documentation in the affidavit is complete as to what he did. It was the solidest bribery case I've ever seen. And we actually tried to break the witnesses down -- not using any untoward tactics, but we put them through lie-detector tests and others just to make sure that they would hold up because this was obviously a very serious charge against a sitting vice president, and it was -- the evidence was overwhelming.
LAMB: Did you ever think the wheels were coming off the -- you know, the whole country during that time?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: No, they were coming off of the leadership of the country, certainly. I was never -- I never had any doubt that the system would hold, that the president was able to find and appoint a vice president who was confirmable by the Congress in Gerald Ford, a man of impeccable honesty, who did a very good job of president. Obviously, having pardoned his predecessor, that was probably what did him in in the election. But he performed in a very high way. We had a peaceful election thereafter, Carter finally succeeding Ford. And in a sense, the wheels -- the wheels came off those individuals, they didn't come off the country. The country held together very well.
LAMB: You two have lived in how many different places?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, we lived in Indianapolis, Washington, Houston and here.
LAMB: And what was Houston like?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Houston was a great, enthusiastic city. We arrived just after the great oil/gas collapse, so there were a lot of people who were remembering the good, old high-living times, but it seemed like good, old high-living times when I was there -- wonderful, hospitable people who really know how to enjoy life. And it's very hot, compared to Seattle, Washington, or even Indianapolis. But Texas, and Houston, in particular, was a wonderful experience. Texans are so proud of being Texan.
LAMB: Why have so many Texans become leaders in the Congress, in Washington, in the White House?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: That's a very good question. I think there's a huge emphasis in Texas on individuality and taking self-responsibility, and maybe that's nurtured. Maybe the idea that you're responsible for yourself, your property, your neighborhood, your city helps -- helps breed that kind of responsibility in a public service sense.
LAMB: You did what in Houston?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I was the chairman and CEO of Browning-Ferris Industries, a waste company.
LAMB: And why did you decide to do that kind of work?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, when I -- I became a lawyer primarily because I didn't enjoy politics, but I enjoyed public life. Having a law degree was a way of sort of having an anchor to the windward. If I got thrown out, which occasionally, I did, I had something to do. I could practice law. And business really didn't have any feel for me. When I left Washington in the middle '70s and we moved out here, I went to work for Weyerhauser and found I really liked business.
Now, I was fortunate in that I moved in at a high enough level so that it didn't feel like I was kind of caught in the bureaucracy of the organization, but I liked management and I liked business. And the opportunity -- I was on the board of Browning-Ferris, and when my predecessor asked me to succeed him, I thought -- we thought about it, actually, over the summer and finally decided to do it. It was just the challenge of it, and an interesting excitement. I don't find quite the fulfillment in business that I did in public life.
LAMB: Why did you decide to move to Seattle?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Weyerhauser. I had been offered a job there when I was in Washington practicing law. And I didn't really like the practice of law in Washington. I liked Washington and liked the government service, but I didn't enjoy the practice of law. And so when we had -- this is about as far away from Washington as you can get. It's still Washington, but it's much different than Washington, D.C.
LAMB: What does the government of the United States look like today from Seattle?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Gosh, that's -- that's a tough question to generalize about. In some -- in some ways, it looks very distanced from the daily concerns of the people here. There are local issues -- and this is a great generalization for most places in the country that are not Washington, D.C. You're very concerned about your own community and your city and the politics of your own state. And it generally looks to you as though Washington moves slowly and erratically sometimes and in a way that's difficult to understand and without any real consultation with the rest of the country.
I'm sort of overwhelmed by our foreign policy right now, so it's difficult for me to feel close to where our foreign policy is taking us right now.
LAMB: Where do you...
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: So it feels remote. I feel remote.
LAMB: Where do you both fit politically these days?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I would say I was a moderate Republican, although I don't use that phrase, but -- I'm a Republican. I'm not particularly -- as in the case of Jill, I'm not particularly enamored with our current foreign policy.
But -- I am -- Brian, when you asked what does Washington look like from here, I'm struck by something Clinton said when he was president, which -- he said it's an impossible -- it's impossible to love your country and hate your government. I don't hate the government. I think the government has a lot of important functions that it has to perform. They're not fit (ph) for a lot of other things, and I think we can, in fact, stimulate solutions to our problems without involving the government. But by the same token, the people that work in the government in Washington are, by and large, very good people. And it's one of the best kept secrets in the country, how many career people there are in the government who are really outstanding Americans.
LAMB: I first interviewed you in 1968, when you ran for the United States Senate in Indiana. And I remember you saying something either that day or -- probably wasn't that day because you were still running, but at some point, I remember you saying to me, I'll never do that again.
LAMB: I'll never run for office again. I don't know if you remember saying that.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I may have -- it probably was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) But I found the process of running the first time -- I had run for the -- I actually ran three times. I ran for Congress once and got beat, back in '64. And I ran for the state house of representatives and -- happened to be the majority leader (ph) because there was a huge turnover. And then I ran for the Senate.
LAMB: In Indiana.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: In Indiana. The first time running for the U.S. Senate, first time through the state was a wonderful experience. It was just new, and I met a lot of different people, and the people of the state were as much different -- whether it's Lafayette or wherever it was, they were different. But then the second and third time around, I thought, What a mind-numbing exercise! And it was -- it wasn't the physical exhaustion, it was the mental exhaustion because if you're running, you're talking all the time and you're not listening to people. You're not learning an awful lot, particularly if you go around the state once. And it was that part of it that I found something not very attractive.
LAMB: Did you ever think of running for office?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I have. I have thought of it several times over the years, particularly after Billy (ph) left. And when I got really honest with myself -- a couple of times, people who are political consultants would come and talk to me about, You could run for this office because there's weakness there. And in one case, it was definitely somebody I admired. I mean, I wouldn't think of running against somebody that I already admire just because there was an opening. I just discovered I didn't -- I don't have the heart for what you have to do.
LAMB: What do you have to do?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: It's very hard -- I think you have to concentrate on your opponent's weakness in this environment nowadays. You have to exaggerate your position, and particularly your opponent's position. And I just find during campaigns, I never listen to anything that either party chairman has to say. If they ever appear on television, I will leave that discussion immediately because they're not interested in balance. Maybe they're so vested in their own position, they don't know where balance lies. But you can't -- there's an awful lot of rhetoric in a campaign that doesn't even come close to being aimed at solving a problem with the greatest consensus of the people, the greatest (UNINTELLIGIBLE) which I believe in.
LAMB: You ran against Birch Bayh. Did you have any -- was your contest then at all like your wife said she doesn't like? Were you at each other?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Somewhat, yes. I wouldn't -- I wouldn't say -- nothing like this last presidential election, or if you read back in history, some of the elections that took place right at the founding of the country, the terrible things that people would say about each other. It was really their newspapers that were saying them, not them. They didn't campaign in the early days.
But as I've thought back on the campaign and some of the things I said and some of the things that he said, I don't think they were -- they were exaggerations, they weren't sometimes characterizations of people that weren't consistent with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You get caught up in the campaign fever, and you start making a speech and you get all excited, and you find that your -- your partisans, who are 90 percent of any audience, the more red meat you throw them, the more they like it. And the temptation to reach in and find another pork chop and throw it out there is overwhelming.
LAMB: Can either one of you explain to the rest of the country what the state of Washington has just been through in its gubernatorial election? How can you have all these recounts? And when we're taping this, there apparently is a governor, but there's a challenge and...
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Not even clear yet.
LAMB: The Democrat is -- at the moment, is ahead, I guess, or whatever. What...
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: She's been certified by the secretary of state (UNINTELLIGIBLE) notice if you read the paper.
LAMB: Yes, I know. What's -- what's going on here?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, actually, it's been very orderly, and as close as it was, over three million votes, with finally, 110 votes separating the two candidates, very calm, under the circumstances that existed. There'd been counts. The first one was the general election count on election night, in which the Republican was ahead by 140 votes. And then they counted it again under the constitution, when it's that close, within one half of one percent, they count the votes again automatically. And he won by 42 votes.
And then if you want to -- if one or the other parties -- it's a little more complicated than this, but if you want to have another recount, you can, called a hand recount, but you have to pay for it. And in this case, the Democrats thought it was close enough that they paid for a hand recount, and the Democrat won in the third go-round by 111 or so votes.
And it's still being fought over because there were more votes cast -- or less votes cast in the election than there are total votes counted. Can't figure out why there's that discrepancy. That's the one issue that's left in the campaign that may have some -- or in the vote -- that may have some opening for a court challenge.
But essentially, the election is over. The Democratic candidate has been certified by the secretary of state. And unless you can allege fraud -- and I -- well, people are yelling fraud, screaming it. I don't see any evidence of that. There is this discrepancy between the number of votes counted and the number of votes apparently cast, and I don't know that that'll be explained ever, but it's -- and whether, in fact, if it isn't, some court will intervene and say it's so messed up that you're going to have to do it over.
LAMB: Now, there's some research that we did showed that the two of you contributed to the Democrat for the governor's campaign. Is that right? The reason I bring this up is...
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: And also contributed to the Republican.
LAMB: Republican? The reason I bring it up is not because you contributed to the Democrat, but you were listed, I think, as, I don't know, lawyer, head of Madrona or whatever it is, you know, your company is, but you were listed as a homemaker. And I just wondered, after all...
LAMB: ... all the things you've done in your life and all the jobs you've had, whether you like the idea of being called a homemaker.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: No, I don't mind being called a homemaker, but I don't think I would have written that term down (UNINTELLIGIBLE) me that way.
LAMB: Of all the things you have done, what's been -- in your -- go through some of the things you're doing with the women's groups around this part of the world.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I'm not exclusively involved in women's issues and organizations, as I was when I was in Washington, D.C., and for a time afterwards, in the National Women's Political Caucus. I'm doing things now like -- there's a marvelous organization that was started locally called Global Partnerships that invests money in Central American countries. It gives primarily to women to help them with their own small, micro-management companies that can start up on as little as $25 when they're making things with their hands in villages, empower themselves and their families to have better lives because they've gotten a little bit of a financial start with this kind of micro-loan. That organization was started by Bill Clapp (ph), and it's called Global Partnerships.
Bill and I are both involved in something called The Initiative for Global Development, which is focusing on, essentially, the -- what is the name of the bill that the -- or the grants that the president is making?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Oh, it's the Millennium Challenge Account.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: The Millennium Challenge.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: He's giving 50 percent more in foreign aid, from $10 billion to $15 billion, another $5 billion over a five-year period. In the event that certain conditions are met, countries, in effect, become more democratic than they are. But he's -- he's trying to concentrate our development aid in those countries which are -- most mirror our political and economic freedom.
LAMB: Let me ask you about success because if you look at both or your resumes and your lives, there's -- you can -- you've been a success in so many different ways. If a young person would ask either one of you, What does it take to be successful, how do you become successful, what would you tell them?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I'd tell them the same thing I told my children. They get tired of it. They repeat it back to me now, somewhat in jest. And that is, Whatever job you have, no matter how menial you think it is, do it to the absolute best of your ability, and then all kinds of opportunities open up. If there's one mistake that I see young people make more than any other, it's getting hold of one job and then trying to decide, What -- what's the next step I have to take in my career in order to advance, and not paying any attention to the job they have, and thereby shorting it. And they never get another step. They never get another opportunity. That would be the one piece of advice I -- forget about what your career path is. I mean, if you tried to get Jill's career path or mine, what would it be? Who knows? But if whatever job you have, you're doing the best you can at it and you're succeeding, people give you more things to do.
LAMB: But you went to Princeton. You went to Harvard, got a law degree. You were head of the Environmental Protection Agency twice, the FBI director for a while, deputy attorney general, head of BFI, Browning-Ferris, on and on. Along the way, though, what other little things, or maybe not so little things, did you do to make sure that you were successful? What extra lengths did you go to to -- how'd you get into these places?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, some of it was luck. I mean, being -- for instance, getting the first Environmental Protection Agency administrator -- the president had offered that to a couple of people. And I was in John Mitchell's office one day. I was in the Justice Department at the time. And he said, Say, I saw your name in the paper as a possible EPA administrator. And I explained to him where that came from, that I wasn't unhappy in the Justice Department, I wasn't trying to fish for another job. And he said, Well, would you like that job? I said, In fact, having seen the same thing myself, I've looked into it and it would be challenging, but I'm not here to ask you for that. I was there on a different -- for a different reason. He said, Well, let me raise it with the president. And he did, and about 48 hours later, I was announced as the EPA administrator.
LAMB: Let me stop you, though, because that story I read somewhere, and it's -- there's a more precise part of it I want you to tell because people that watch this -- we try to go through these kind of things. Your name was dropped in the "Periscope" column in "Newsweek" magazine.
LAMB: And that's what I want you to tell me because people don't really believe these things happen. Explain how that happened.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I had been in the state board of health in Indiana, in the Indiana attorney general's office, representing the state board of health in water pollution, air pollution. To the extent the state of Indiana had any laws that affected air and water pollution in the '60s, and we didn't have very many, I was kind of it. I was at the state board of health, representing them as they pursued somebody who was stinking up a town or something. That's what you needed to do to get in trouble then. And there was a person assigned named Jerry Hansler (ph) from the National Health Service to Indiana. He was assigned to the state board of health. And he and I used to go around in his panel truck, looking for pollution cases. And he'd get out and take a picture of them, and we'd bring it to this pollution control board. He was the one who dropped this into that "Periscope" column. He lived in New York at the time, and I mean, I'd lost track of him. I'd moved to Washington after having run for the Senate, and here came my name in print. I didn't have any idea how it got there, and he called me up and said, I bet you wonder how you got your name in "Newsweek." And I said, Yes. And he says, I put it there. He says, You'd be good at that job.
LAMB: So I mean, there's a case of where you weren't even trying to get the job, and he dropped the name in without you knowing it.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: That's right. He had -- he was working then back with the Public Health Service in New York. He was the first EPA administrator, regional administrator in New York City, after I was appointed, because he was terrific. He did a wonderful job there.
LAMB: Success. Now, for instance, you're on the board of directors of the Lincoln National...
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Financial Group.
LAMB: And Costco.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: That's right.
LAMB: How did Jill Ruckelshaus get on the board of the Costco (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, it's a little bit like that. It's serendipitous in those cases. It's people that you meet who, when an organization has a need of some kind and has begun tossing names around, the people there sitting around making that decision may say, Well, I know someone who has this kind of experience or this kind of judgment or could make this kind of an input to us, and we need that kind of person. That's kind of the way it happened in both of those companies.
But I would also say it's important to be really clear that you are committed to what you're doing. You can do it very well if you care about the outcome. If you care about the bigger picture that you're involved in, so that you're working really hard at what you do because you -- before you said you'd head this group or run this committee or even a company, you checked with your head and your heart and you know both of them are really committed to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in that group. And then if you get a leadership position and you -- you're very lucky because you're going to work is an equivalent of something you enjoy very much.
LAMB: Well, go back to the business thing for a minute because we've gone through a series or scandal stories that have come out of big business all over the country, in all different kinds of ways. Did you change the way you looked at the Costco company -- and by the way, tell those who never heard of it what it does.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, Costco is a membership warehouse company that sells at a tremendous savings essentially luxury items or high-end items. We carry a much smaller number of units than Wal-Mart or Target or any of the larger ones. So you buy a membership, and you can walk through the warehouse and find almost anything. We like to talk about it as a treasure hunt. There's everything there from a dog bed to a Wurlitzer to high-end electronics. And we have -- we have still the man who envisioned this, Jim Senegal (ph), as our president, and Jeff Brautman (ph), who is the chairman. And Jim Senegal envisioned this very low-cast way of presenting high-end items to people by keeping down the overhead, and at the same time, being a very fair employer. So Wal-Mart's had a lot of scandal about employment abuses of the people who work for them, but the company they always cite as the good company, the white hat company compared to the troubles Wal-Mart is having, is Costco. And that's absolutely because of the vision of its founder, Jim Senegal.
LAMB: And Costco's close to a $50 billion (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: It's an enormous company. We're active in Mexico and Canada with partners and then Taiwan and a large business (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
LAMB: You serve on a number of boards.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Yes.
LAMB: Like, besides Nordstrom and...
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Weyerhaeuser, Cummins...
LAMB: Cummins Engine.
LAMB: Another Columbus, Indiana. What about the -- I want to keep asking you about this business of -- because the public is leery of a lot of -- anybody in leadership. What do you do on your boards to protect the public? Because that's why you're there, to protect the public and the shareholders.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: It sure is, and it's your obligation. And I think part of these scandals, a lot of directors did not see as clearly as we do now the responsibility to the shareholders and to the public. These companies are run honestly and directly. And fundamentally, my -- the judgment I try to make before I ever join a board, Do I trust this management? Do I trust the chief executive officer that are -- in the first place, are they any good at what they're doing? Are they good businessmen? But secondly, are they honest? Are they straightforward? Are they ever going to try to fool me because I -- if they really want to fool you, by the time you catch up with them, it'll be too late. And my standard for being a member of a board is if I don't trust the management, one of us has to go. And if I can't convince my fellow directors that the CEO or whoever it is we don't trust is out of there, then you have to leave. You have no choice.
Now, that doesn't solve the problem. What about the shareholders, if you exercise that responsibility? I guess it depends on the level of mistrust and how deep you think the problem might go with the company as to whether you have an obligation to blow the whistle.
LAMB: What do you both say to the charge that American business is greedy? Corporations, leadership greedy, CEOs...
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I think that's a fair charge against some of the salaries and bonuses that are given. We see it all the time in "The Wall Street Journal." If you have an annual report from a company, you can find these excessive salaries and bonus -- these packages. And the country's become more aware of that, and that's beginning to happen.
But I -- my experiences with corporate America isn't about greed. The profit margins are very, very small in most companies. But you can quarrel with some of the excessive salary and benefits that corporate leadership has gotten for years. That's tightening up. Since the scandals, the Sarbanes-Oxley laws have made corporate leadership so much more careful, the board of directors so much more aware of many issues that they had assumed that management would take care of in a satisfactory way. Now everyone's looking very closely at all these decisions. It's probably a good thing, but it's also very expensive. It costs every corporation complying with these -- with Sarbanes-Oxley an awful lot of money.
LAMB: There's something here in Seattle called the Experience the Music Project. And I noticed up on the board there that your names were up there as contributors to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) It's a 501C3 corporation, non-profit. Paul Allen's behind it. What are you two doing -- what are you involved in grunge music and garage music and all this, and Jimi Hendrix? And how did you get into it?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: That's probably a surprise to you!
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Your name is probably up there as one of the big contributors.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: (OFF-MIKE) rock-and-roll, and it's the vision of Paul Allen. Paul Allen and Bill Gates were the founders of Microsoft. And he has -- he's left the company, but he's enormously wealthy, and he's indulged his business interests, his philanthropy and the combination, his personal interest with rock music. He plays guitar himself. And it was -- it was an enormous contribution to the Seattle Center, which is important to the life of the community. And it was going to be a great attraction for the city, and the architect was a world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry, who designed the building, which is very controversial. But we have several buildings like that in the city, and I think it's -- I think it's good for the city we're on cutting edge. I hope you get the chance to see it...
LAMB: I've seen it. And when I looked at it, I -- I just couldn't imagine Bill Ruckelshaus designing this building.
LAMB: Have you been through it?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Oh, yes. The inside is terrific.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: It's music. It's part of the 20th century culture. And it was -- it was an important project for Seattle.
LAMB: You can see why it would be controversial, though. I mean (OFF-MIKE)
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Somebody take a bunch of Slinkys and glue them together on (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
LAMB: Talk about this community, and name the number of things that are here, like Microsoft's headquartered here and Costco's headquartered here and other -- what else is here?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Weyerhaeuser's here. Starbucks is here. I'm going to leave somebody out. Nordstrom is here. There are a lot of major companies here. This community has an enormous amount of -- of affection and respect for its natural environment and for the community itself. And the willingness of people in this community to get involved in things that benefit the community is much like Jill describes Houston. It's the same sort of spirit of the community.
We -- the closest thing in Indiana that I remember was Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne was like that. If you ever went to Fort Wayne, Indiana, people would start talking to you about what a great place Fort Wayne was. And you'd look around. You'd think, Well, what's so great about this? It looks like a lot of other cities in the state. But the reason the place really was outstanding, I think, is because the people there made it that way.
Now, this has a magnificent natural setting and scenery here, but people care very deeply about this place and take care of it and watch it, participate in its life, art, politics. Anything that has to do with the community, you can find plenty of people who participate heavily in it, and that's what makes for a great community.
LAMB: Amazon.com's here?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: That's right.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Amazon's here.
LAMB: Real Networks.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: The Seahawks, the Mariners, the Sonics. They're all here.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: There's a huge development of biotech down along Lake Washington. The University of Washington's invested in the Genome Project, and that kind of bio-research is going on down there right now...
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: University of Washington...
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: It's made a huge contribution to the city, and that kind of medical research, genomic program, is being heavily funded by the university and by lots of small companies, small start-ups, that will spin off from it in that area.
LAMB: One of the things you notice in the demographics of the community -- and it's about the 24th largest city in the United States -- the environs. How big are the -- it's 550,000 people...
LAMB: Two-and-a-half million in the area. But one of the things you notice about the city is it's 13 percent -- over 13 percent Asian-American, which is one of the larger percentages in the country, 8 percent African-American. Does -- you lived in Washington, D.C. You lived in Indiana. You lived in Texas. Does this place look toward the Pacific? And if it does, what do you see that way that we don't see on the East Coast?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I think the answer to your question is yes, it does look to the Pacific. I was for a while here the chairman of the Washington Council on International Trade. This is the most trade-dependent state in the country. Whether it's apples and fruit from the central part of the state or timber from this part of the state or high tech or whatever it is, the trade effect on this state is huge. It also was the place of the WTO riots back in 1999. Very incongruous to have a meeting of the World Trade Organization here and have people -- I saw stevedores down on the waterfront demonstrating against the WTO. I mean, they wouldn't be employed if it weren't for trade, so it's hard to understand the connections that they could see whatever was bothering them that led them to the streets and their own employment.
But it definitely is more -- we had a Chinese governor, a Chinese-American governor, first one in the history of the country. And it is very much oriented toward the Far East, much more so than other parts of the country.
LAMB: Do you see anything for the future that the rest of the country ought to know about, thinking toward Asia, thinking toward the Pacific?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I think the whole country's aware that this is a very important area for us, in terms of trade and export. And I know that some of the schools here are teaching Chinese languages. I'm involved with a school here that's decided which of the dialects to teach and make available as an elective. It was kind of interesting, actually, to have a discussion with the language department when you were saying, Should we continue? We can only afford to keep this many languages. Certainly, we'll teach Spanish and Latin and English, but how about German? Is that still an important language for people to know, or maybe we should be teaching something else? And I think the decision was made that although German may be still the language of academics, of a lot of research, of a lot of historical information, that it was more practical to begin teaching Asian languages. So now Chinese is taught as an elective in that school.
LAMB: All right, this is a -- these are tough -- easy questions, tough answers. Of all the places you've lived, which place have you enjoyed the most?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: It's easy for me. It's here, right here in Seattle. I mean, I'm a native Hoosier and you never lose that. And I love my home state of Indiana. But if I had to choose any place I've ever been in the world to live, I'd live right where I do now.
LAMB: And why?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, the natural beauty of it is magnificent. The climate is invigorating. It's -- people get -- some people get depressed by the rain, but it doesn't actually rain as much as people think. And the variation in temperature is not very great, so you get warm summers and cool nights, and at the same time, this time of year, we're -- this is about as cold as it gets, which is around 30, here ever. You know, access to the ocean. We have -- or to the mountains. We have access to the sea, wonderful fishing. I love to fish. And for the last four or five years of my life, trying to help the salmon recover here. It's just -- and it has all the arts that you can want, access to wilderness or open space very quickly. It's a wonderful place to live.
LAMB: And Mrs. Ruckelshaus, how about you?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I think one of the first things I noticed when I got here, and I continue to appreciate it, is the moderate mindset, the tolerance, the acceptance of diversity. And that's not to say you won't find people on the right and left of all of those issues, but it's a very progressive state in those areas. And politically, the moderate center generally is the prevailing view. And it's -- in some interesting ways, it reminded me of Indiana. I always felt was talking to very level-headed -- I mean, I loved every minute I ever spent in Indiana. I felt that was a very reasonable, common-sense community there. And I find that here, too.
For instance, it was much more comfortable for me to be here after living in Indiana than in some areas that were much more conservative.
LAMB: So of all the jobs you both have had, what was the most interesting for you? What was -- what one did you enjoy the most?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: For me, I think it would be the first time at EPA. Agencies like that only come along about every 15 years in Washington, on average, and to take what we had then were 15 different pieces of agencies, and whole agencies in some cases, and put them all under one umbrella and try to make it work was an enormously challenging undertaking. If I'd been an older man, I probably wouldn't have accepted it. I would have known better.
LAMB: So you created it.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, it was created really by Congress under the Executive Reorganization Act, but I was there at the beginning when the -- when it was created and had the responsibility for sort of building it up and getting it going. And that was -- every day, getting up, was just a huge challenge and very exciting.
LAMB: What advice would you have, though, for somebody that runs the Homeland Security Department with 22 different agencies that they had to put -- what did you learn about trying to shove 15 separate groups into one?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Well, one of the things I learned was take your time, but you can't do that if you're trying to protect the security of the country. I mean, that -- I think Tom Ridge did a wonderful job of trying to pull all those people together. It's not simple to do that, and at the same time -- someone once described to me that being head of EPA was a little bit like running a 100-yard dash and getting appendectomy at the same time. I can just think the Homeland Security must be that times 5 or 10 because of the importance of protecting the security of the country.
But my advice would be, Don't ever -- don't pay any attention to the political rhetoric that tells you not to listen to the people who are there and who know what they're talking about and who know what they're doing. Rely on them. Let them know what your basic policies are, what you're trying to do with the charge and responsibilities you have and rely on them to help you, and they will. They'll bust their hump to help you. And a lot of people, particularly Republicans, don't understand that coming into the federal government.
LAMB: Your favorite job?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I'll make it -- I'll make a distinguishment between the job I got paid for and one that I did full-time but didn't get paid for. I would have to say my -- my -- I worked when I got out of graduate school at a small school in Switzerland. I lived in a tiny village. And everybody there was from different countries. I just learned a lot. I think you come to value the places that teach you things, and I learned a lot there.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Before we were married.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: That was before we were married.
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: And as a volunteer position, I really, really enjoyed being the head of the U.S. International Women's Year commission that worked out of the State Department in 1976 and '77. And we submitted a report to the president. But we had hearings all over the country, and I just learned a lot. I do a lot of volunteer work here in the community, and I enjoy all of those jobs because I'm learning all the time.
LAMB: Your five kids are where now?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: Three of them are here, two girls and a boy. One of our daughters is in California, in the central part of the state, and another daughter's in New York.
LAMB: Just a few minutes left. Looking back from your Watergate experience, both of you involved in that process back there -- a lot of people say that we're still suffering as a country from Vietnam and Watergate. First I'd just ask you both, is that true, in your opinion? And if it is, what is it we're still not over? And how do you basically see the future of this country, governing this country?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I think we're suffering from it. And I think the problem is trust. I think that free societies only function well when there's a bedrock of trust among the people and their basic institutions. And we have had a steady erosion of trust in government, in particular, starting with the Vietnam war, accelerated by Watergate and then carried on, sometimes for good reason, sometimes for not, but any -- any sort of objective look at the answer to the question, Do you trust the government to do the right thing, the federal government in particular, Kennedy's era, 65 percent of the people would have said yes. Today it's probably 20 or less. In some cases, it has been less.
That's a bad thing for a free society. You need trust that our basic institutions are going to do the right thing or we don't function very well. And my only response to it is we've got to get more people involved in trying to solve these problems themselves -- that's what we're trying to do out here with the salmon and the Endangered Species Act -- so they begin to understand the complexity of problems and can begin to build up trust in other people's grappling with them.
LAMB: And what do you think?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: I think that's -- that's absolutely true. We are suffering -- if you look -- even -- even beginning with the Kennedy assassination, and then Johnson was only able to be a one-term president. And it goes -- it goes on and on, right up to Reagan's era, who served for eight years. Whether you disagreed or not with those policies, it was -- it was good to find a figure that the public could repose its trust in for eight solid years. And there still is this, I think, this carryover from that, this distrust. And the best way is for local volunteer groups or small government units to begin to grapple with the complexity of problems. I was reading something the other day about, How are we doing in Iraq? Well, you find when you interview people on the streets there that they are waiting for things to be done for them because always, it was a top-down, very dictatorial and very repressive government. People's initiative to solve their own issues was completely squelched. And now they wait for the world to be given to them much better by us because they don't have that experience of coming together and working for themselves. That hasn't been allowed. In this country, we do have that experience, and I think there's much more trust in government in cities and towns and states than there is toward the federal government.
LAMB: We've got -- I need 15 seconds from you to tell the world what both of you are doing today.
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: I'm involved primarily -- well, a lot of things, but primarily in trying to help the salmon recover out here, which has been listed as an endangered species, by getting people in watersheds actively engaged in taking the steps necessary to restore habitat.
LAMB: But your full-time job right now?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS: My full-time job is here at Madrona, where I'm a strategic partner in a venture capital firm.
LAMB: You spend most of you time doing what?
JILL RUCKELSHAUS: On corporate boards. I'm involved in working on the board of trustees at Lakeside School, which is a wonderful school here in the community. I'm on the board of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival down in Ashland (ph), Oregon, which is wonderful. And I take as much time as I can to read poetry.
LAMB: Bill and Jill Ruckelshaus, thank you very much for -- you know, you don't have to do this stuff anymore, so we appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.