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This scandal is not about sex - no lie

August 25, 1998

Tim Rowland"I am not a crook."

"I will seek no wider war."

"I was out of the loop."

"We did not, repeat did not, trade weapons for hostages."

"There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe."

"Read my lips, no new taxes."

"I did not have sex with that woman."

These and other presidential lies can be yours for just $19.95 and two proof-of-purchase coupons from any Generic Truth Serum product.

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Want more lies? No prob, try this popular model. "This scandal is not about sex." Not about sex? What's it about, whooping crane migration? Of course it's about sex because if it weren't it would be too complicated for the Washington medialebrities to understand and it would never get reported.

How many Americans believe Clinton hasn't lied and thrown office furniture in the path of investigators probing campaign finance indiscretions - two or three, tops?

Yet we never hear any of that, for the obvious reason that it is ultimately not about sex. Would we be here if Clinton were found to have lied about Medicare funding? About Pakistani nuclear capability? Arms for hostages? His golf game?

Please. This is about sex. It is axiomatic that people who publicly talk about sex the most are the ones who privately engage in it the least. So perhaps those who do talk about it the most are just frustrated they don't have porky 20-year-old Valley Girls falling all over their laps.

But since everyone lies about sex, usually the frequency thereof, Clinton opponents know they are on shaky ground here. So they have to perpetuate the illusion that this is not about sex. They also know Americans are queasy about intruding on people's privacy, so to spin their way out of this complication they fashion another lie: This isn't an intrusion into Clinton's private life because the affair took place on public property.

The Oval Office is public, taxpayer-funded property, so this is public, taxpayer-funded sex (even though this is not about sex, which none of us are interested in).

That lie lasts about as long as it takes to remember that the lodge at Cacapon State Park is public, taxpayer funded property. Are we to take from this that it's OK to subpoena hotel clerks and force them to tell us what they heard behind closed doors?

No, privacy is not surrendered when one crosses the boundary of public lands. If it were, you could force any two people you see holding hands on the C&O Canal to tell you under oath whether or not they've ever indulged in padded handcuffs and a trapeze.

But again, Americans feel queasy about invasion of privacy, so it is key to Clinton opponents that privacy be subtracted from the equation - even though the only way they can do so is by fogging the facts, by deceiving, by lying.

Get real. This is about Clinton's private sex life. It doesn't excuse him from being a low-down, lying, immoral person, but call it what it is. That's plenty bad enough.

So, after $40 million, five years, public humiliation of Hillary and Chelsea, dozens of episodes of Face the Press, hundreds of hours of talk-radio rehash, subpoenas to everyone this side of Buddy the Dog, the bottom line is this: The most powerful politician in the world cheated on his wife.

If that bothers you, you have the right to be bothered. If that doesn't bother you, you have the right not to be bothered.

Meanwhile, the North Koreans are back to work on nuclear capability, the volatile Russian states are reeling off in frightful directions, bombs explode in Africa, children die in the streets in Northern Ireland, Pakistan and India are involved in a nuclear stare-down, Colombian soldiers are dying by the dozen in the jungles and the Asian economic turmoil could easily trigger a U.S. depression.

We know what's important.

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