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Tale of a hateful Tripp

February 18, 1999

Well, I thought Larry King's interview with Linda Tripp went well.

At least through the first two sets, until the nicotine from that last cigarette began to wear off, and she began grabbing at her hair like it was the elusive rip cord on the last emergency chute.

My, but she's fun to hate. I can't remember despising anyone for the pure sport of it more that I do the S.S. Linda.

And of course it's funny because she deserves it.

She's easy to hate because she's so full of hate herself. She started out loving everyone, understand. She loved Bill Clinton, she loved Bruce Lindsey, she loved Vince Foster, she loved Monica - but they all turned on her. And why? For the completely nonsensical reason that she wanted to dredge up everyone's dirty personal laundry and expose it for the world to titter over.

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But she's not a gossip, understand. That's the biggest misconception. And she was able to hold onto a credible nongossip persona for about 3.8 seconds until asked if Monica's mother condoned the affair. More than condoned, Tripp said, lowering her considerable chin, raising her considerable eyebrows and scrunching up her considerable mouth in one of the nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say-no-more expressions of the quintessential gossip.

Ah, so much to hate, so little space.

And you noticed the Hagerstown angle, I hope? Asked if she feared for her life she said she did. In a rare moment of consciousness, Larry King expressed disbelief. Tripp clarified. She wouldn't be gunned down, she said helpfully. Instead she expected the Clinton administration to come after her in a truck. Any specific kind of truck Linda? Yes, a Mack truck.

It would be nice to know a home-grown product might have a hand in Linda's demise.

She wins points on the makeover, though. I was watching with my friend Tom and we both agreed that she looked incredibly lifelike. When the call-in segment came on we fought over the phone to see if we could call the show and ask her for beauty secrets.

Three top reasons why Monica, if she watched last night, might be the one driving the Mack truck:

3. Linda says if she saw her today she would want to "give her a hug."
2. Alternately labeled by Tripp as "hysterical," "suicidal," "troubled," "misguided."
1. Had Tripp over to her place to try on some jackets and Linda couldn't help add "and they fit."


"Fit?" Monica was probably screaming. "Fit as what, leg warmers?"

The most insightful question of the evening came not from King (no surprise) but from a listener who wanted to know why, if Monica were indeed hysterical, misguided and suicidal, Tripp's first call was to book publisher Lucianne Goldberg and not to the poor girl's mother.

Linda looked like she'd been hit by the aforementioned Mack Truck. "That's a good question," she responded.

Exasperated, she said she is the only one not writing a book - about two minutes before acknowledging that yes, she probably would write a book.

We got to see Linda the drama critic: John Goodman "cracked me up" the first couple of times he parodied her, but it's not funny anymore.

Linda the stain analyst: "It was all over the place."

Linda the Clintonesque hairsplitter: She didn't tape anyone, she "documented."

Linda the facilitator: "I didn't seek (Clinton's enemies) out, but I made it easy for them to find me."

Linda the victim: "Clinton made choices, Monica made choices - I was forced to make choices."

Yet no one weeps for Linda. No one I talked to was duped into signing on to her poor-me tour. If anything, they hated her more.

Yup, when you betray a friend and recklessly throw a nation into a constitutional crisis because not everyone adheres to your self-absorbed little rule book of life - and then expect to be applauded for it - that'll happen.

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