- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000

The Democratic Party finally has a sex problem that has nothing to do with Bill Clinton.

When the party nominated Al Gore for president, it must have breathed a sigh of relief: With a thong- and intern-proof leader, the party would no longer be subject to serial sexual embarrassments.

It was nice while it lasted. To be sure, there is no hint of sexual scandal attached to Mr. Gore or his running mate Joe Lieberman. Nonetheless, there is an unmistakable political blush coming on as the sex industry openly embraces the Democratic ticket. While neither candidate is likely to turn hallowed national monuments into the equivalent of porn-movie backdrops (starring Bill Clinton), Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman seem to have what may as well be called the deep-throated support of the pornography business.

That's the word from Paul Cambria, an "adult industry" lawyer who handles Hustler magazine's Larry Flynt (with gloves, one hopes), among other stars of smut. Mr. Cambria actually announced a "get-out-the-vote effort" for Gore-Lieberman targeted at pornographers and their customers while speaking at the Internet Adult Expo in New Orleans this month. So committed to the election of Gore-Lieberman is Mr. Cambria that he is urging Internet pornographers to promote the Democratic ticket on their X-rated Web sites. "The important thing is that they reach an audience of millions," he explained on Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" lastweek, describing a constituency he claimed, pre-Internet, "was never available in any other election." (It was "available," all right, but a candidate would have had to don a soiled raincoat to find it.)

Maybe this new Democratic constituency explains Messrs. Gore and Lieberman's decision to omit any mention of sexual explicitness when heard, briefly, roaring over Hollywood excess. Maybe the candidates were simply playing to their new "audience of millions," some of whom, after all, must have millions.

The thought X-rated? seems already to have occurred to Bill and Hillary Clinton. One of their dear, new sleepover friends, whose name pops up on the list finally released without dates by the White House, is a man named Jim Levin. Mr. Levin, it turns out, is a former strip-club owner from Chicago. Of course, Mr. Levin's hot spot, "The Dollhouse" not to be confused with the Ibsen play, "A Doll's House" was not just any strip club. As Mr. Levin put it to a Chicago paper in 1993, The Dollhouse was "the classiest operation in the business." Sounds like Mr. Levin was a pillar of the lap-dancing industry. No wonder he's gotten to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom twice. And no wonder he serves as Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign finance director, and sits on the board of Mr. Clinton's presidential library, for whose cause he has pledged $1 million.

But isn't all this, to use a quaint word, unseemly? Pornography exists but must its purveyors become an open constituency of the party of FDR and Harry S. Truman? Strip clubs exist, but must their owners, former or not, become the intimates and financial backers of Mr. Clinton and his Senate candidate wife? Just pair up The Dollhouse owner with any other president or Senate candidate, for that matter and the incongruity becomes intense, dizzying even. It has naturally fallen to conservatives to try to point out such examples of cultural vertigo, but it looks as if it's becoming harder than ever to find our bearings.

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