The story was covered in detail as it broke on CNN's "Countdown to Election 2000" hosted by Wolf Blitzer. At the end of the show - the very first TV spot trumpeted that the preceding program was brought to you by a company specializing in researching people's murky pasts. "Want to find out if someone has a criminal record?" asked the announcer.
Then CNN went to Larry King Live - which had trumpeted that Ross Perot was about to unveil his presidential pick. As assiduously as King tried, Perot was not about to give away the goods too early. Perot strung out his preamble for a full ten minutes - listing all the qualities he was looking for in a president. High among these were personal integrity and honesty. Even Perot swallowed hard as he then announced that Dubya was the man.
On Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" one of the guests was the scourge of Clinton throughout the impeachment - former Reagan Justice dept. official Mark Levin - who runs the Richard Mellon Scaife funded Landmark Legal Foundation. Every argument that Clinton supporters had uttered about the Whitewater investigation was streaming from his mouth. "It was 24 years ago..." "It's a politically-motivated charge..." "He didn't 'fess up because he was trying to protect his family..."
The Portland, Maine TV station which broke the story was far from being a station owned by of those liberal Hollywood conglomerates. WPXT just happens to be an affiliate of ultra-conservative Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV empire. Well it still is at the moment...
Al Gore's campaign wisely issued a "no comment" statement. This brought to mind the famous statement by Britain's future Prime Minister Harold Wilson when - as Leader of The Opposition - he learned of the Conservative Party's government-wrecking Profumo scandal in 1963 (documented in the successful 80's movie "Scandal") "No comment" he said. And then - unable to resist the gloat - added: "No Comment in glorious Technicolor."
Among the questions that may or may not be answered in the next few days:
If George W. Bush was arrested shortly after his 30th birthday for being drunk under the influence - why did it take him ten more years before he swore off alcohol - until the day after his 40th birthday?
If Jesus Christ became George W. Bush's philosopher of choice after his 40th birthday because "he saved my life..." - who was Dubya's philosopher of choice when this "youthful indiscretion" occurred? Perhaps Keith Richards or Ozzy Osbourne...
Last but not least - watch out for further pronouncements in the next few days about Dubya as a thirtysomething from Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.
Flynt - whose painstaking research in 1998 caused Speaker-designate Bob Livingstone to resign in the middle of the impeachment - has been trying to get America's mainstream media to cover an as yet unproven allegation concerning George W. Bush's role in the alleged abortion of a female friend in the early 70's.
Flynt who has had two private investigators scouring through Texas all year has aired his allegations on several radio shows - including the New York talk show of Alan Colmes (the quasi-liberal half of Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes) - blurted out the allegation again on CNN's "Crossfire" on Friday October 20 when asked by Robert Novak.
"During the impeachment debacle we did an investigation which resulted in the resignation of Bob Livingston and others and we have continued this investigation and for eight months we've been looking into George W. Bush's background. And we've found out in the early 1970s he was involved in an abortion in Texas."
(Extract from CNN Transcript October 20, 2000)
The CNN website initially included this quote in its transcript of the show. Subsequently it thought better of the inclusion and excised the words. Protests about this resulted in a CNN statement which was read out on the network's show about the media "Reliable Sources" last weekend.
Flynt is unlikely to be able to resist this final opening to re-air the allegations about Bush's morality.
More ironies to follow...
Question from the Houston Chronicle in 1996 - "Were you ever arrested for drunken driving?"
Answer: "There are some things I'm not proud of from my youth"
Of course by Henry Hyde standards - the age of 30 does constitute "youth." Whether middle America regards a 30-year old man as being a "youth" remains to be seen.