By Tony Kornheiser
I have a confession to make.
Linda Tripp has me on tape.
I dated Linda Tripp. It was four hairdos ago. (Hers, not mine.) Before the frizz, before the straight cut, before the French braid. At the time Tripp was wearing her hair where it belonged -- under a hat.
And I know she's got me on tape, because whenever I would lean over and whisper, "Look in my eyes," she would say, "Talk into my brassiere."
We broke off our relationship because we disagreed on the definition of a good friend. I said a good friend was someone you loved and cared about. She said a good friend was "somebody vulnerable who confides in you, then you use that information to land a huge book deal, and then you shed your good friend like a rattlesnake's skin." To which I said, "Oh." And then, "Check, please!"
Any day now Kenneth "That's Not a Light Bulb, That's My Head" Starr is going to subpoena me. He's already called in every live woman in the country to talk about President Clinton's sex life, and he's seeking a court order to exhume Eleanor Roosevelt. It doesn't seem to matter to anybody that Starr has spent $30 million and three years investigating Clinton and the closest thing he's ever had to evidence was Monica Lewinsky's laundry -- and it turned out not to include the smoking dress. If Starr were in charge of NASA we'd be lucky to land a man on New Hampshire. Yet more people are drawing a paycheck from Ken Starr than from the Pentagon these days. If Starr ever wraps up this investigation, half the country will be out of work -- including President Clinton, of course.
So now we've got Gennifer Flowers, Paula Corbin Jones, Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky on the docket. Where are they going to impanel the grand jury, at Hooters? How much worse is this going to get for Clinton? Is there any chance he'll show up on SpectraVision? (Seymour Hersh must be dying. He wrote about the wrong president.)
The president's defense, so far, consists of sending Hillary out to the talk shows to foam about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" that includes a secret alien mind ray that has somehow turned Mike McCurry into Shecky Greene. If that doesn't work, Bill's lawyers are working on establishing that he and Vernon Jordan were chipping golf balls on the White House lawn during all the nights in question.
I can't wait to be deposed. I want to give my view on what constitutes sex.
Like most men I don't believe that oral sex is sex. I also don't believe that oral history is history. And I certainly don't believe that Orel Hershiser is . . . going to win 20 again.
You're probably tired of this sex scandal already. You're probably asking, "Tony, why are you writing about this?"
I'm weighing in because it's good for my career.
It's a natural impulse. Every time CNN runs a picture of Monica "90210" Lewinsky, stage mothers all over the country smack their foreheads and say, "Why didn't my daughter think of that?"
I'm completely envious of my pal, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, who's on TV 24 hours a day now: It's Isikoff-O-Rama. He makes Wolf Blitzer look like D.B. Cooper. (One of his co-workers said in praise of Isikoff, "He has the stomach to go after stuff nobody else would touch because it's in such bad taste." Gosh, that's like praising the biggest horsefly on the pile.)
The more dirt you can dish on Clinton, the more in demand you are. The other night I watched Larry King interview the comely Gennifer Flowers, doyenne of the big-hair, big-teeth babes. Larry asked her, "Do you think Bill Clinton has been a good president?" And Ms. Flowers, who the last time I checked was a lounge singer, said: "I think Bill gets too much credit for the good economy. I think Alan Greenspan did most of the work." Well, thank you, Marilyn vos Savant, and would you do us a favor and sing "Feelings" in the next set?
Later I was watching "Meet the Press" and the distinguished panel included Matt Drudge, who writes a gossip column on the Internet. The Internet, for heaven's sake, where half the folks who log on believe -- from reading the Internet -- that if you go into a bar in New Orleans someone will slip you a mickey, and you'll wake up in a tub of ice with one of your kidneys surgically removed. And Mr. Drudge was asked about the relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky, and he said something in a breathless way that made him look like a Doberman on a choke chain. And then the next question about Clinton went to William Safire of the New York Times, one of the most erudite journalists in the country. Teaming Safire with Drudge is like Sir Laurence Olivier sharing a stage with Tony Danza.
Then there's that ponytailed wing-wang Andy Bleiler, who's only one set of hot curlers away from being Linda Tripp. Bleiler was Monica Lewinsky's drama teacher at Beverly Hills High, and then supposedly had an affair with her while he was married and she was at something called Lewis and Clark College, where I guess she majored in maps. "I couldn't in good conscience just sit on this, and not tell the authorities what I know," Bleiler said. Oh, really? Hey, Stanislavsky, sit on this.
This is what we need, more maggots coming out of the woodwork. Like Dick Morris! Now he's speculating on the chilly nature of Bill and Hillary's sex life. I'm sure they can't wait to hear more radio advice from Dick the Love Doctor: "First, you put on a dog collar. Then you get Mistress Ilse to spank you with a rolled-up copy of the American Spectator . . . "
Hunkering down for the siege, Clinton has called in some old loyalists: Mickey Kantor, Harold Ickes, Harry Thomason, Clemenza, Tessio. I'd say that the president was prepared to go to the mattresses, but I'm afraid that's how this whole thing started.
I'm reluctant to pick up the paper because all the great lines are taken before I can make them up. On the front page last week, a former White House colleague of Lewinsky's described her thusly: "She'd take little things and blow them up."
I wouldn't touch that one with . . . well, never mind.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company