Thursday, September 20, 2007

All in the family

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright awakened one morning to discover she had Jewish ancestors in her closet. Essie Mae Washington-Williams couldn’t believe her ears when her mother told her that former South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond was her daddy.

Indeed, this latest news comes as a bit of a shock. Now, suddenly, I’m debating whether to invite “cousin Bill” down to Washington for a family cookout, or ring Hillary to plan a quiet lunch before she heads back out on the campaign trail. There’s so much to catch up on, after all.

Truth be told, I’ve always felt a special kinship with Bill Clinton, especially when writing about his trials and tribulations. I actually felt his pain. So I wasn’t completely shocked — just shocked — to open up and read the genealogist’s findings:

Frances Jacocks Champion: Born 1620, Stratford, Avon, England; Married 1640, Queen Annes, Maryland; Died 1687, Long Island, Nassau, New York — 8th Great Grandmother of William Jefferson Clinton; 8th Great Grandmother of John Larson McCaslin.”

“Grandma Frances,” as I now call her, had four children: Martha, Hannah, Sarah and John, all but one born on Long Island. Here’s how history supposedly unfolded next:

Sarah bore a son named Benjamin, who was father of Phebe, who was mother of Henry, who was father of Mary, who was mother of Clemson W. McCaslin, whose son was William R. McCaslin, who was father of Herbert W. McCaslin, whose son was Robert W. McCaslin, who, when not spying on behalf of J. Edgar Hoover, brought me into this world.

Meanwhile, John had a daughter Elizabeth, who was mother of William Blythe, whose son was Jonathan Blythe, who was father of Andrew Jackson Blythe, whose son was Thomas Jefferson Blythe, who was father of Henry Patton Blythe, whose son was William Jefferson Blythe, whose father was William Jefferson Blythe II, whose son was William Jefferson Blythe III, otherwise known as President Bill Clinton.

Come to think of it, I’ll text-message Chelsea to see if she wants to catch the new Russell Crowe flick “3:10 to Yuma.”

Rudy as ‘Godfather’

“This will create lots of rumors about who I’m going to select for attorney general.”

Or so top Republican presidential contender Rudolph W. Giuliani tells Inside the Beltway, referring to tonight’s private fundraising reception in his honor hosted by Robert Duvall at the actor’s Middleburg-area estate in Virginia.

“Or who I might select for my White House counsel,” adds the former mayor of New York. “After all, Robert Duvall had only one client, remember?”

Says Mr. Giuliani: “How can you tire of watching “The Godfather”? It’s an American classic. Robert Duvall’s portrayal of [mobster lawyer] Tom Hagen is unbelievable.”

Still, the presidential candidate tells us his “favorite all-time movie” of Mr. Duvall’s is “The Apostle,” the acclaimed 1997 film not only written and directed by the actor, but he also starred in the title role.

“I think that is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by an actor — any time, anywhere, anything,” Mr. Giuliani says. ” ‘The Apostle’ is a tour de force.”

Helping Scooter

That’s Mary Matalin, former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, helping to raise some much-needed money to cover the legal bills of I. LewisScooter Libby, her old boss’ chief of staff who was convicted earlier this year of lying to a grand jury and FBI investigators about his role in the Valerie Plame CIA-leak case.

“Scooter should never have even been put on trial,” Mrs. Matalin writes in a letter that landed in our mailbox. “His conviction was an absolute and total miscarriage of justice. And the extra-long prison sentence and huge fine he was given was like pouring salt in the wound.”

As Mrs. Matalin notes, President Bush later commuted Mr. Libby’s 30-month prison term, though the former top Cheney aide was forced to pay his $250,000 fine and he remains on probation through 2009.

“But make no mistake, Scooter’s battle is not yet over. As I write you this letter, Scooter still has hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding legal bills from his trial,” she says, not counting what it’s costing to appeal his conviction.

“These bills need to be paid immediately.”

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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