"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 4 March 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Leave the Light on for You



So now we know - it was all

Clinton's idea. Donors were

rewarded with group coffees with

the President, dinners with the

President, and... jogging?



Clinton signed his

ridicule-warrant in his own,

disturbingly loopy handwriting:

"Ready to start overnights right

away." Though the documents were

subpoenaed, you have to wonder

if dissed former White House

aide Harold Ickes really had to

hand over four inches of 'em.

Maybe it was an intimidation

tactic - though at four inches,

it hardly measures up. But one

of the memos proves that the

goofy Lincoln Bedroom sleepover

idea was Clinton's own. Sigh.


A travesty, we're told, a huge

breach of ethics: Clinton sold

the Lincoln Bedroom to the

highest bidder. One hundred

grand and you get to sleep in a

room that Honest Abe (oh the

irony) used as an office.

Compared to other luxury hotels,

not much of a deal. The bellboys

at the Mondrian are better

looking, and the beds at the

Four Seasons probably aren't as

"lumpy." Of course, any

president who hasn't invited

campaign contributors to the

White House probably still lists

his tenure next to "Debate Club"

on his resume.



A list released to the press

revealed that over 900 people

had overnighted in the White

House, some high donors

including Hollywood stars, pols,

and a lot of Clinton's Arkansas

pals. The Washington Post

interviewed some of the pols and

pals and found a lonely prez,

dressed down, coming in to chat,

not a greasy money-raiser.

"He gave me a tour of the       
residence and what he really    
wanted me to see was his walk-in
closet," said George Nigh,      
former governor of Oklahoma. "He
said he had never had a walk-in 


Presumably Chevy Chase, Barbara

Streisand, and David Geffen -

all Lincoln Bedroom tenants -

have seen large closets before

(hell, Geffen only recently

moved out of his). They were

probably treated to shows of

political power.


Although high-rollers have stayed

in the White House, Clinton

probably hasn't done much of

anything that's illegal. You

can't raise campaign funds on

federal property, but so far, no

one's proved that checks were

solicited in the Lincoln

Bedroom, only that Bill would

show up in jeans and bare feet

to shoot the shit. We all know

pols will pay to suck someone's

naked digits, but the idea that

someone might be seduced by the

thought of lapping at a pol's

toes is the scandal's most

revealing possibility. If an

Arkansan sans shoes inspires a

man to give $100,000 to the

Democratic Party, then he'd

probably give money to anybody.

Expect Gingrich and Lott to

purchase shares in Birkenstock

any day now.


If it's a revelation to anyone

that the presidency is bought

and sold, well, then shame on

you. The good news is that the

only people who seem even

remotely surprised or outraged

by the slumber parties are the

Washington press corps. The rest

of us are just put to sleep.


[Dog Style]

As Americans, we've long ago

given up the notion that money

and politics are any more

separate than church and state.

There's no Santa Claus, either,

and Salon really isn't the best

website, despite what Mom or

Time says. And, yes, the Oval

Office is a commodity, paid for

by the people who have money and

who want to keep their money.

Clinton's only crime was

aesthetic, not moral. And he put

something kind of goofy in

writing. But would you rather he

let Steven Spielberg pick the

movie for the night, or have the

head of Texaco suggest that

maybe Iraq needs to be bombed

again? Cash for sleepovers, or

arms for hostages?



Poor Bill. His real problem isn't

ethics. It's bad taste. Bush may

have enjoyed pork rinds and

horseshoes, but Clinton's the

real bumpkin. His naiveté

would be charming in a state

senator or young public

defender, but in the Leader of

the Free World it's just kind of

embarrassing. He may think he's

practicing Way New Politics, but

while his use of public

resources as rewards isn't

illegal, it makes him look like

a rube. His sin wasn't that he

sold political access; it was

that he gave it away so cheaply.

In the real corridors of power,

that little goes a very short

way; a hundred thousand grand

won't even get you product

placement on Seinfeld.



So let's end with a warning,

shall we? You may find yourself

invited to the White House one

day. Think nothing of it, by

that time, most Americans will

have had a chance. Remember,

though, to follow some advice

that this man obviously did not:

"As the president went by me, he 
gave me a big hug and said the   
stock-option plan was a 'darn    
good idea.' I was as high as a   


Have breakfast, send some

postcards, take a few pictures,

even share a cup of coffee with

the President. But whatever you

do, don't inhale.

courtesy of Ben Schmark


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