In His Own Words: 'Excitement in the Air'
The Washington Post
Did you have a plan for your life after Harvard?
None whatsoever. It was a phase in my life where I wasn't really that worried about what my future was. A lot of people went to Harvard Business School for a job and all that. I went there to actually learn and did. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I really didn't write up a resume.
And you weren't bothered by this?
Not really. I was 27, but I was unencumbered in the sense of, you know, I was single and didn't have any possessions, and I wasn't tied to any plan that somebody had outlined for me. I went out to Midland, and it was just fortuitous. I got out there, and it was clear that this is the place that I wanted to go. There was an excitement in the air.
Where did you get the money to get yourself started in Midland?
That was an education trust that my parents had set up for me that I didn't spend on my education. . . . It paid for my education at Yale and Harvard Business School.
So what was left over?
I think it was 13 [thousand dollars]. . . . It was money that I used as, yeah, as investment capital, [to] buy little pieces of deals and trade. It took me a while to get up to speed on what all this was all about.
You incorporated Arbusto on June 24, 1977. And the next month you, as an independent oil producer, announce your candidacy for the congressional seat. But you didn't start active operations of the company until March of 1979.
That sequence suggests to me that you wanted Arbusto most immediately as a credential for the congressional race.
No, not really. No, I don't think so. You know, I didn't have a lot of assets in those days to begin with, and it was a place to put the limited properties I had within a corporate structure. I think I was looking for a corporate vehicle in which to put my assets.
Did [Bush's uncle] Jonathan help you with most of the investors?
Yeah. And this is the time when the oil business was kind of, people were interested in opportunity. Some of them were trying to shelter income. . . . Some were trying to find oil and gas. I was trying to find oil and gas. That's how I made a living. I took a very low risk profile initially.
Tell us about the  merger with Spectrum 7.
We were an ongoing company. We had a lot of upside. I had put an exploration team together, and what the Spectrum deal was, was it gave the Spectrum people an operating arm in the Permian basin. And so did I need to do that merger? No. I didn't need to do it. But I needed it to grow.
Well, would you characterize yourself as a successful oilman before [the 1986 merger with] Harken? On the brink of bankruptcy?
I wouldn't say we were on the brink of bankruptcy at all. I could have
survived . . . laying everybody off and kept an accountant and just depleted
our reserves . . . trimmed that to a one-man shop.
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