• This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," Dec. 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: After our interview with Reverend Billy Graham, he had lunch with President Bush 43. Now, we couldn't take you to the lunch, but this is the next best thing. President Bush went "On the Record" about his meeting with Reverend Graham and much more.


    VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. President, nice to see you, sir.


    VAN SUSTEREN: And this is a surprise. I wasn't planning on seeing you here, well, except for the other day we planned it.

    BUSH: Right. Well, no, listen, thank you for being here. It's -- both you and I have had an amazing experience today, and that is to be able to talk to the great Billy Graham.

    VAN SUSTEREN: How was lunch, by the way?

    BUSH: Fun. Laura and I and Billy and Franklin and his wife had a beautiful lunch. Billy is in good spirits. And he really -- he had an enormous influence on my life, and it was wonderful to be able to see him again.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you're right about him, and the thing -- the sentence that caught my attention was, "I was captivated by Billy."

    BUSH: Yes, I was. And he had such a spirit about him. He's a gentle soul. I mean, here's one of the most famous people in the world, and in his presence, you realize how humble he is. And his humility, and obviously, his love for God and Christ can overwhelm the cynic. And I was a cynical person at the time, and his spirit overwhelmed me.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Do you actually remember meeting him?

    BUSH: Oh, absolutely.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me.

    BUSH: Well, I met him, first of all, with my grandmother in Kennebunkport. He had came to visit my grandparents, my grandmother, of course, Mother and Dad had him over to the house, which is right next door to her house. And at first -- you know, I didn't realize how big a man Billy Graham was. And he's a striking person to look at. And -- but then the words started coming out of his mouth in such a gentle way that I truly was captivated. I mean, I was amazed. I wasn't sure what to expect, of course. And you know, in life you build up these images about somebody, and then when the reality's different from the image, it can -- it gets your attention. In this case, he got my attention.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I sort of get from reading the book -- and tell me if I'm wrong -- that at the time, you were sort of a questioning young man and that meeting him sort of put you in a direction with less questions, with more certainty.

    BUSH: Well, it did. I mean, one way, from a kind of biblical analogy, he was -- started to help me plant seeds. And the ground was -- the ground was pretty hard. But after meeting Billy, the ground became more fertile for the seed, is one way to put it. No, he helped change my life. He truly did. And I was a questioning person. I was drinking a lot. And religion was -- you know, I used to -- I put in the book I would listen but never hear. And Billy Graham helped me understand the redemptive power of a risen Lord.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's sort of interesting. There are a lot of people who preach, but Reverend Billy Graham has affected millions. Any thought on, like, what's different about him?

    BUSH: You know, it's just -- I -- one way to look at it is he is an effective messenger because of his charisma and his heart. I had the honor when I was governor of sitting behind Billy in San Antonio, Texas, at a crusade. And it was an unbelievable experience, particularly when Billy called for people to come down to commit. And it was a remarkable experience. And he was a magnet. I mean, he -- and the interesting thing about Billy, though, is not a magnet to Billy Graham. That's what makes him so incredibly effective. It's a magnet for a higher power.

    VAN SUSTEREN: After 9/11, there was a service at the National Cathedral in Washington and he was invited.

    BUSH: Yes, he was. No better person to represent the Christian faith than Billy Graham at the National Cathedral. We had people from all faiths come and talk about the fact there is a God and we will pray to that God, the variety of ways to help our nation. And Billy represented the Christians, and represented them well.

    VAN SUSTEREN: He's humble, isn't he. I mean, when you meet him, it's, like, you know, sort of -- I'm surprised at the couple of times I've met him how humble a man he is.

    BUSH: He's very humble, very disarming man. In other words, you're in the presence of a great -- a great historical figure. And you're not sure what to expect, and his then humility overpowers you. And that's what makes him very effective.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there so many pictures of him with different presidents over the years. I mean, he's gone back (ph) and talked to I don't know how many presidents.

    BUSH: Which is great. I mean, look, Billy Graham will be a friend to every president because Billy Graham's mission is to spread the word. And you know, and he's willing to preach to the most powerful and the least powerful. And people want to be in Billy's presence. I mean, I -- when I was president, I was thankful that Billy came to the White House to visit. He has no political agenda. He has an agenda of the Lord.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's sort of interesting. You know, so many people are -- rightfully so, are in awe of the President of the United States, but I get sort of sense it's sort of interesting when the president is in awe of someone else.

    BUSH: That's right. Well, when you're president, you get to meet amazing historical figures, and Billy Graham was one. And I had been a friend of his a long time, ever since my grandmother introduced me to him, and he's had a big influence in my life. And it was a precious moment to be able to have a lunch with Billy Graham today.

    VAN SUSTEREN: I bet it was. Well, thank you, Mr. President. I know you have lots of people waiting to meet you and get a copy of your new book...

    BUSH: Thank you.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... a signed book. And awfully nice to see you, sir.

    BUSH: Thanks, Greta.