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ESSAY
Vernon Jordan, the Quicker Fixer-Upper

 Jordan/AP
Vernon Jordan. (AP, 1992)
By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 24, 1998; Page B01

Need a cushy job? Call Vernon Jordan.

Looking to become a high-paid consultant? Call Vernon Jordan.

Federal prosecutors hot on your tail? Call Vernon Jordan.

Vernon Jordan is the man on the white horse, riding out of the muck of this latest White House scandal to restore our faith in humanity.

Watching Zippergate develop this week, it's easy to sink into despair. The president is accused of having an affair with an intern in the White House. The intern's so-called friend secretly tapes the intern's alleged confession and then passes it on to a federal prosecutor. It's all so sordid and sleazy and cheesy.

Fortunately, a bright and shining hero has emerged from this tawdry affair. He is a man so selfless, so caring, so eager to help people in all walks of life that he single-handedly redeems the reputation of the human race. That man is, of course, Vernon Jordan.

People have helped him, he says, so he is eager to help others. He doesn't care about race or social status. He helps everyone -- "young and old, male and female, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, rich and poor, Cabinet members and secretaries," he explained at a news conference Thursday.

Jordan is the friendliest Friend of Bill in town. He's a lawyer at the powerful local firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. He makes over a million dollars a year. He is about as big a big shot as they come. Yet this angel of mercy finds time to help folks who are down on their luck.

When former associate attorney general Webster Hubbell was forced to resign amid charges that he'd embezzled from his old law firm, some people turned a cold shoulder. Not Vernon Jordan. His shoulders are always warm and welcoming. He lined up a toasty $100,000 consulting contract for Hubbell.

When Monica Lewinsky, an obscure former White House intern, was subpoenaed to testify in the Paula Jones case, she found a friend in Vernon Jordan. He not only recommended a good lawyer -- Frank Carter -- he took Lewinsky over to Carter's office and introduced them.

What a guy!

And that's not all. Jordan also helped Lewinsky get job interviews at American Express and Revlon -- two companies on whose boards he serves -- and at Young & Rubicam, the New York ad agency. It's unknown whether he helped type her resume.

Cynics suggest that Jordan helped Lewinsky and Hubbell so they wouldn't sing to prosecutors about the less-than-savory activities of Bill Clinton.

Not true, Jordan says. "Throughout my professional career, I have been privileged to assist people with their vocational aspirations," he said at the news conference.

The man is an altruist. He is an inspiration. He might even be a saint -- Mother Teresa on the Potomac!

"I believe in giving a helping hand," he said.

So when the burdens of life get too heavy, we know who will help carry the load -- Vernon Jordan.

Need a ride to the lawyer's office? Call Vernon Jordan.

Working late and need somebody to pick up the dry cleaning? Call Vernon Jordan.

Gutters clogged? Call Vernon Jordan.

Can't get a sitter for Saturday night? Call Vernon Jordan.

Toilet's making funny noises at 3 in the morning? Call Vernon Jordan.

Your daughter wants an internship at the White House? Call -- well, maybe not.

For just about any other problem, though -- you know who to call. The number at Akin, Gump is 202-887- 4000.

Of course, he can't always help. He's only human. Sometimes he has to beg off.

At Thursday's news conference, for example, Jordan could have helped reporters to understand this latest scandal by answering their questions. But he had to decline.

"I will not take questions," he said. "I'm going to leave and go back to work."

That makes sense. He's a very busy man. So many people to help, so little time.


© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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