- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Lifeline Bubba?

Regis Philbin says President Clinton "would do just fine" were he to appear as a contestant on TV's game-show sensation "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

And if there's anybody who could use a quick million to help pay off his mountain of legal-defense debt, it's Mr. Clinton.

Mr. Philbin tells Inside the Beltway he thinks Mr. Clinton would do particularly well in the "pop culture" category of questioning. And this time around, the host points out, there are "only 15 questions" Mr. Clinton would be required to answer correctly.

"He would do well," Mr. Philbin says of the commander in chief, who completed his undergraduate work at Georgetown University, graduated from Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes scholar to boot.

Would Mr. Philbin actually consider inviting Mr. Clinton, once he leaves office, to appear on a celebrity edition of the show?

"I would like to," says the host.

Have mercy

Speaking of the end of the Clinton dynasty (Bill Clinton, that is), nobody will be more sorry to see the president leave office than Jay Leno of "The Tonight Show."

"It's the golden age of comedy," Mr. Leno admitted to Inside the Beltway immediately after roasting Mr. Clinton at Saturday night's star-studded Millennium Dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association.

Mr. Leno read for us a message Mr. Clinton scribbled on the comedian's dinner program prior to his stand-up routine: "Mercy, mercy, please have mercy."

Catching justice

Cyberspace columnist Matt Drudge says he hopes the $30 million libel lawsuit that was filed against him by Clinton adviser and veteran journalist Sidney Blumenthal sees the light of day before President Clinton leaves office.

"I'm hoping it gets tried [in court] before Clinton leaves the White House, because I plan to call [White House spokesman] Joe Lockhart, Hillary [Rodham Clinton] and a whole cast of White House characters to the stand," Mr. Drudge tells Inside the Beltway.

Meanwhile, in a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Blumenthal's attorney, William McDaniel, offered Mr. Drudge some words of advice: "Drudge's remarks remind me of a bravado of [legendary trial lawyer Edward Bennett] Williams: 'He who chases justice sometimes catches it.' "

Mr. Blumenthal's lawsuit remains in the discovery phase, pending rulings by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman. The White House aide filed the suit after Mr. Drudge erroneously reported that Republicans were rumored to have evidence linking him to spousal abuse.

Mr. Drudge retracted the story the same day with an apology, which obviously wasn't enough.

Panetta poll

When we interviewed former White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta earlier this year, he opined that President Clinton's impeachment was one reason young people are "turned off" with politics and American government.

"I have a lot of concerns," said Mr. Panetta, in whose West Wing offices in 1995 Monica Lewinsky, fresh from college, began answering phones and writing an unforgettable chapter of American history.

Now Mr. Panetta forwards to this column a nationwide survey of 800 college students by his Panetta Institute for Public Policy. It reveals that only 17 percent of students eligible to vote turned out for this year's presidential primaries.

Still, Mr. Panetta reports that while students are turned off by politics, they're "turned on" by community service and what directions this nation should follow.

"There's clearly a disconnect between students' low rate of voter participation and their concern for the future of the nation and their fellow citizens," Mr. Panetta tells us. "Whether that disconnect is broken in the presidential election will be an important test of our democracy."

Mr. Panetta says the presidential contest is a dead heat among college students: Vice President Al Gore 43 percent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush 42 percent, 15 percent undecided.

Alien endorsement

This just in: Texas Gov. George W. Bush has won the endorsement of the nameless space alien who threw his support behind Bill Clinton in 1992.

The May 9 issue of the Weekly World News carries a front-page world exclusive photo of the alien shaking hands with Mr. Bush. The picture was taken immediately after the two huddled in a Washington hotel suite, discussing everything from Mr. Bush's education policy to possible trade between the alien's planet and Earth.

"This decision comes as a tremendous blow to Vice President Al Gore, who naturally assumed he would inherit the alien's support from his predecessor, Bill Clinton," says UFO investigator Dennis Baleri, who's been studying the influence of extraterrestrials on U.S. politics for two decades, the newspaper reports.

Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile was out of the office when we rang for reaction yesterday, but the vice president is said to be "confused and disappointed" by the alien's decision.

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