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Watergate Remembered, After a Fashion

John Dean, White House counsel to President Richard Nixon and the author of
John Dean, White House counsel to President Richard Nixon and the author of "Worse Than Watergate," talked about a subject he knows well during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

About that time, an aide handed Graham a note saying his lunch date had canceled. The senator settled in for some intensive questioning of the witness.

The South Carolinian kept trying to prove that Watergate was different from the current wiretapping flap, in which administration lawyers insist Bush's actions are legal. But Graham kept getting tangled up in the facts -- and Dean made sport of the senator's ignorance.

"Senator, if you let me answer, I will give you some information you might be able to use," he suggested to Graham.

Dean instructed Graham that his "assumption that Nixon had somehow ordered a break-in . . . is just dead wrong."

"He condoned it," Graham argued.

"He did not know about it, Senator. It's hard to condone something you don't know about."

Graham muttered something away from his microphone and took a sip of water.

Feingold celebrated Dean's debating victory. "I'm very pleased that Mr. Dean finally had the chance to put on the record the history that he knows so well," he said, adding that Bush is making "one of the greatest attempts to dismantle our system of government that we have seen in the history of our country."

The Watergate references would not stop. Dean invoked Sam Ervin. Feingold invoked John Mitchell. Specter looked at his watch. And Graham tried, one more time, to get his history straight.

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