What's the Beltway, 10,000 miles away or something like that? It would have been easy for us out here on the Left Coast to have missed word of the steamy sex romp between President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. After all, it wasn't like the media trickled out much coverage (people, we're talking the Biggest Scandal in the History of the Universe here. Hello!). Fortunately, there were some OC ties (we call 'em “local hooks” in the news biz) that shed light on this most important affaire d'stogie.
Steven Jones, husband of Paula Jones-the then-photogenically challenged woman (she's since gotten mucho work done to her grill) whose ongoing sexual-harassment suit against Clinton led to the Lewinsky allegations surfacing in the first place-went to the downtown Long Beach Police Station just after midnight on Jan. 30 to report that a bomb went off in his car earlier that evening. Mr. Jones was driving alone on the northbound 101 freeway in Los Angeles at about 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 29 when he heard an explosion and smelled something that led him to believe it came from a bomb. He drove elsewhere before going to Long Beach, where he resides with his wife, and then on to the police station to report the incident. Because the boom boomed in LA, investigators contacted that city's cop shop. Investigators from the LAPD bomb squad and the criminal-conspiracy section, as well as a bomb-sniffing pooch, examined Jones' 1987 Mercedes-Benz but found no evidence of a blast. An LAPD spokesman surmised debris in the road or nearby fireworks could account for what Jones experienced. But Paula, apparently unsatisfied with those non-conspiracy theories, vowed, “We're going to have some further investigation.”
July 30 was a particularly tough day for Clinton. It started with the embarrassing disclosure that Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr had asked the FBI to test the DNA of the alleged First Splooey on Lewinsky's dress (obviously, Monica didn't inhale). But Clinton was allowed a few moments of joy that afternoon when the House of Representatives voted 260-163 against a resolution that would have blocked the president's extension of a trade waiver for Vietnam. The vote was a stunning rebuff to an eight-month lobbying effort by Van Thai Tran's OC-based coalition that wants human-rights conditions set before trade benefits are granted to those commies in Hanoi.
Haydee Tillotson, whom Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) beat in the scummy election that brought the former Pillsbury Dough Boy to power in 1995 and again in June's primary, raised an interesting point in a letter printed in the Times OC on Aug. 23. “That [Congressman/Baugh mentor Dana] Rohrabacher would engage in such a tantrum [against District Attorney Mike Capizzi's prosecution of Baugh] even as he assaults Democratic partisans for their wholesale assassination of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is patently hypocritical,” Tillotson wrote.
Perhaps there was a cloud of hypocrisy hanging over the OC coast. Christopher Cox, the right-wing congressman whose district is due south of Rohrabacher's, also smelled of the stuff. Immediately after Clinton admitted to doin' the nasty with Junior Miss Lewinsky, Cox (R-Nouveau Riche) suggested that Bubba should foot the legal bill for the sex investigation against him. Had Clinton told the truth months before, he would have spared taxpayers major funds, Cox figured. Ironically, this was the same Cox who signed a letter urging a House panel to use taxpayer funds to reimburse ex-Congressman Bob “B-1 Buttercup” Dornan for legal fees incurred in his costly, drawn-out, groundless voter-fraud investigation.
Two days before Starr's report came to a . . . uh . . . head and guaranteed Clinton Cigar Aficionado magazine's Man of the Year honors, South County Congressman Ron Packard (R-Oceanside) called on the president to resign. “The president should look within himself and realize that the nation is bigger than his legacy,” Packard said in a statement his office issued on Sept. 9. “He should resign and end this sad episode.” Packard also noted, “The nation should not tolerate a president who commits immoral acts with impunity.” Of course, those ground rules only cover such immoral acts as extramarital sex between consenting adults, not secret wars, arms-for-hostages swaps, and propping up dictators in Third World countries. Why, one might ask, would Packard advise Clinton to step down before Starr's Penthouse Forum submission hit the streets? “I firmly believe that the transgressions already admitted to by the president demand his resignation. Regardless of what the contents of the independent counsel's report [are], Bill Clinton no longer has the moral authority necessary to lead and inspire the nation.” We didn't have to go out on a limb and assume the report's actual content failed to change Packard's opinion; his office subsequently issued at least five press releases throughout the rest of the year reiterating the congressman's call on Bubba to either pack it in or be removed from office.
The Reverend Robert Schuller also called on the president to resign. The pastor of Garden Grove's shiny, happy Crystal Cathedral said in a Sept. 9 interview that calling it quits was the only way Clinton could repair the gaping breach of trust he's opened for his family and the nation. “He has to ask himself whether he will heal the breach through extended impeachment hearings or whether prolonging this will make it deeper and uglier,” Schuller told The Orange County Register. Then he mysteriously demanded all the grapes in first class.
The Clinton scandal was on New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman's mind when she made a Sept. 9 campaign swing through OC on behalf of fellow Republicans “Disco” Dan Lungren, who was just itching to be our next governor (keep on itchin', Danny boy), and Matt Fong, who tried to swipe Barbara Boxer's U.S. Senate seat (try again, Mattie). Bubba has left “Americans with a presidency that is demoralized,” Whitman said at the birthplace of demoralized presidencies, the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda. Ultraright dickwads in the Lincoln Club of Orange County whooped it up like an Arsenio Hall Show audience when Whitman expressed her “outrage” over Clinton's extra-credit assignments for intern Lewinsky: “I think perhaps the most offensive thing to me, besides his personal behavior, is he admitted going before the nation and lying to people.” Hell, at least Clinton admitted to lying; Nixon never did. And to his everlasting credit, Reagan could not “recall” a damned thing. The shits. Whitman, who is poised to someday become commander in chief, later toured the Nixon Library's latest exhibit, “My Dearest Partner: Husbands and Wives in the White House.” She must've nearly peed her panties when she got to the Bill and Hill display. Library officials swore the exhibit's timing was purely coincidental.
Among those who hadn't abandoned Clinton-at press time, anyway-was Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove). The president gave her first election a much-needed credibility boost in 1996, and he's gone on to host star-studded fund-raisers in D.C. and LA for Capitol Hill's numero uno Latina. The peeps in Sanchez's central OC district support Clinton and “are not interested in this extracurricular garbage,” she told the Reg on Sept. 11.
Dornan first called on Clinton to leave office about six years ago, but that, of course, had nothing to do with Ejacugate. That was just on general, right-wing-loon principle. Dornan sank his dentures into the latest brouhaha-natch. He called a Times reporter on Sept. 11 to declare himself “as sick over this as I was during Watergate.” Indeed, the Starr Report's steamy details were enough to make Teddy Kennedy blush. Or was that just the Chivas? Fellow redface Dornan (his rouge ain't from liquor . . . allegedly), in his desperate stab to win back his congressional seat from Sanchez, directly linked his opponent to the Lewinsky affair. Nice try. Loser.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.