- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2002

There we were, happy ecstatic even. Buoyed by the expectation that soon every new day would return to our lives something that has been missing for, lo, these many months (17 to be precise). Bill Clinton was coming back into our lives as television host.

The joy, the rapture: Bill Clinton, a microphone and airtime to fill. He could defend the Constitution some more (always a treat), regale audiences with Really Stupid Pet Trucks (poor Buddy) and explore little-known facets of his own presidential tenure such as the question suddenly on inquiring minds all over Washington as to whether that peephole in the Oval Office door prominently featured in George W. Bush's recent slide presentation at the White House Correspondents Dinner was in working order during his own administration.

The possibilities were, as they say, endless. But that was long ago last week when the promise of returning Bill Clinton to America's living room was still undashed. Then came the cold, cold water. No "Man from Chappaqua." No $50 million salary. No "Late Night," "Today" or even "Mornings with Bill." As Clinton spokesgal Julia Payne described the get-together with network executives, "President Clinton did not demand a talk show. He went to listen."

Mr. Clinton still may venture into television in some part-time capacity, but the word is that it's unlikely to be anything as clock-workingly regular as a daily chat show or, as the New York Times explained, anything else "that might interfere with Mr. Clinton's other plans, which include extensive international travel, giving speeches, backing charitable causes and fund-raising for Democratic candidates."

In the end, maybe Mr. Clinton thought "host" sounded like a come-down from "president." Maybe he decided he had better find More Important things to do. To wit: On the evening after his meeting with NBC last week, the New York Post's Page Six reports that Mr. Clinton dined out with "grocery billionaire" Ron Burkle, who is his new business partner, and Steve Bing, a son of a non-grocery billionaire who is currently infamous for denying a role in the creation of model Elizabeth Hurley's infant son. Mr. Burkle is said to be attempting to buy the Elite modeling agency. Could be he'll be in the market for a new president for the modeling agency, which could be just the title a perfect fit for a man of Mr. Clinton's stature.

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