- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2000

Profit center

"Sure it was expensive, but the $52 million spent on independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr's probe of Whitewater, Travelgate, and Monica Lewinsky probably paid for itself and maybe scored a profit for taxpayers via tax revenues generated from book and video sales and TV specials," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Unofficial tabulations of money made in the marketing of Whitewater and Monicagate alone are in the tens of millions of dollars, and the tax take should easily top Starr's budget, say tax pros. 'It's difficult to imagine that the government received less than $52 million [from] private-sector spin,' says Pete Sepp, vice president of the National Taxpayers Union.

"Consider: ABC reportedly made $30 million up to 35 percent taxable on its Lewinsky interview; gobs of Clinton scandal books have sold well; Lewinsky profited through sales of handbags and flacking for Jenny Craig; lawyers made millions; cable TV fed off the scandal; even C-SPAN sold tapes. 'It's probably one of the most bizarre public-private ventures ever,' says Sepp."

Amazing achievement

"You've got to hand it to David Westin," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes.

"The president of ABC News has achieved the impossible: he gave the Clinton White House the moral high ground," Miss Dowd said.

"Bill Clinton relished turning the tables on his press tormentors. Now it was ABC that was guilty of parsing words and shading truth.

" 'ABC doesn't know whether Leo and I had an interview, a walk-through, or a drive-by,' Mr. Clinton joked at a press banquet. 'Don't you news people ever learn? It isn't the mistake that kills you; it's the cover-up.' "

Miss Dowd and the president were referring, of course, to the Leonardo DeCaprio "Earth Day" interview with the president, which has caused ABC no end of embarrassment.

Fidel's best friend

"By now, anyone who has followed the saga of Elian Gonzalez knows that the [National Council of Churches] is deeply involved in the story," Tucker Carlson writes in the Weekly Standard.

"NCC officials were instrumental in convincing Greg Craig, the Washington lawyer whose previous clients have included Bill Clinton and John Hinckley, to represent Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. Last week, the NCC chartered the jet that flew Juan Miguel to Washington. From its offices in New York, the NCC press office has issued statement after statement demanding that the U.S. government return Elian to Cuba. At every point, the NCC's positions on the case have been indistinguishable from those of the Cuban government, down to its insistence that the boy not be given American citizenship," Mr. Tucker says.

"Why would a church group spend so much time and money propagandizing on behalf of an atheist government famously intolerant of religious expression? The official NCC explanation makes vague references to 'human rights.' The more accurate answer might be: habit. The National Council of Churches has long gone far beyond the call of fashionably liberal Protestantism in its defense of Fidel Castro."

Showing sincerity

If Vice President Al Gore is "serious" about campaign finance reform, "he'll demand a complete and full investigation" of fund-raising in the 1996 presidential campaign, Sen. John C. McCain, Arizona Republican, said yesterday.

Interviewed on CNN's "Late Edition," Mr. McCain, unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said he believes national security issues need to be addressed in such a probe, referring to campaign contributions suspected to have come from the Chinese government.

Mr. Gore, the prospective Democratic nominee for president, has vowed to make campaign finance reform the "centerpiece" of his election bid.

Mr. Gore "will show his sincerity" about that pledge if he orders a full investigation of 1996 abuses, said Mr. McCain, a longtime advocate of changing campaign finance laws.

Vast conspiracy

Former presidential candidate John McCain yesterday ridiculed Hillary Clinton's charge that Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is in the pocket of right-wing zealots and said he is proud to be part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy."

"I'm sure that will be sufficient to put us over the top and eliminate any further need for fund-raising and further campaigning," Mr. McCain wisecracked at a news conference yesterday with Mr. Giuliani, who is running against Mrs. Clinton for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

The Arizona senator called the suggestion that Mr. Giuliani is allied with the far right "ludicrous on the face of it," the Associated Press reports.

Mrs. Clinton used the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" in a 1998 television interview to describe what she said was a campaign to discredit President Clinton and herself.

Her Senate campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said she has never called Mr. Giuliani or Mr. McCain part of the conspiracy, but has pointed out that the mayor's campaign has accepted contributions from fund-raisers identified with ultraconservative causes.

Mr. McCain's visit came as Mr. Giuliani's campaign aired a new 30-second television spot linking him to the former GOP presidential hopeful. In the commercial, Mr. Giuliani says he shares Mr. McCain's independent approach to public issues.

A placard displayed while Mr. McCain and Mr. Giuliani met quoted Clinton media consultant Ellis Verdi as expressing surprise that Mr. Giuliani "would associate himself with someone [Mr. McCain] who is that far to the right."

"I notice that after my last visit here that I am now part of the vast right-wing conspiracy," Mr. McCain said.

"Obviously, I received a ground swell of their support in the campaign that I just completed unsuccessfully," he added.

Neck and neck

Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush are running neck and neck in the presidential campaign, according to a Newsweek poll released Saturday. The poll found that 44 percent of registered voters favor each of the two major party candidates, while 12 percent were undecided. Among independent voters, Mr. Bush had a slight edge with 45 percent compared with 39 percent for Mr. Gore.

Mr. Bush, the likely Republican presidential nominee, scored 81 percent of Republican voters, while likely Democratic presidential nominee Mr. Gore scored 76 percent of Democrats, Cox News Service reports. Among minorities, Mr. Gore got 63 percent compared with 23 percent for Mr. Bush, according to the poll of 588 registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

Falwell's campaign

The Rev. Jerry Falwell is set to step back onto the political stage this week when he launches a voter registration and mobilization campaign, "People of Faith 2000." ABC News reports that on Friday, Mr. Falwell will announce a plan to register an additional 10 million religious people to vote, and to have them carry "I pray and I vote" cards reminding them of their commitment to turn out on Nov. 7. ABC says Mr. Falwell's folks also plan to communicate with thousands of religious leaders to encourage them to hold "citizenship days" in effect, a voter-registration drive in the pews.

Mystified

Rep. Henry Hyde, the Illinois Republican who was frustrated in prosecuting his case against President Clinton in the Senate, remains mystified by that legislative body, National Journal reports.

"Ever since impeachment, I can't guess where they are headed," Mr. Hyde tells the magazine. "I have never had any relations with the Senate I mean they are over there and we are over here. They are East Timor; we're West Timor."

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