By Tony Kornheiser
The Lewinsky Bandwagon. Week 5:
A week without red meat.
The dish is getting pretty thin out here on the front lines of quality journalism.
No Monica. No Monica's mom. No Monica's mom's emergency medical treatment team.
The only Monica news all week was that mystery tie she bought.
What color was the tie? How much was the tie? For whom did she buy the tie?
Help, Ken Starr, help! I'm being subjected to an avalanche of TIES!
Excuse me, Tony, but six sentences ago you called this the Lewinsky Bandwagon.
We remember your hideously boosterish Redskins Bandwagon a few years back. Week after week you wrote the same self-indulgent columns. They were puke! Does this mean we're stuck with endless Lewinsky columns as you fasten yourself to her like a Victoria's Secret undergarment?
The most beautiful sound I ever heard. All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word.
Say it loud, and there's music playing. Say it soft, and it's almost like praying.
Lewinsky, I'll never stop saying Lewinsky.
Lewinsky, Lewinsky, Lew-in-sky!
Hey, why can't I further my career here? Why should William Ginsburg be the only one to get famous off of Monica's service to the country?
What else can I do? What else is there to be funny about? There's no war with Iraq. How many laughs can I get after I've said "Kofi Annan" sounds like a flavor at Starbucks? Oprah udderly outflanked the Mad Cow Police. That Vegas anthrax threat turned out to be a dud. A guy promises anthrax, he ought to deliver anthrax -- salmonella I can get anywhere. Where else should I turn? Ruthann "Honey, I'll Cook Dinner Tonight" Aron?
So I'm stuck with Sweet Monica the Harmonica, and her lawyer, (Oh No It's) Mr. Bill.
The zenith of my week was a phone call from Lucianne Goldberg, the New York literary agent who got the ball rolling by encouraging Linda "8-Track" Tripp to enter the lucrative field of character assassination literature. Ms. Goldberg's reputation for being a shark is such that I thought of holding Richard Dreyfuss's picture up to the phone.
Being a crack investigative journalist, the first thing I quizzed Ms. Goldberg about was her client's ratty hair. "How about my hair?" she replied. "When this thing broke I hadn't had my roots done, and I had to give a press conference with two-inch black roots! I was mortified."
She hasn't gone on TV since, though all the network hotshots are plying her with flowers. "This place looks like a well-kept grave now," she said.
That's because you're to die for, Lucianne.
During our chat, she revealed that she'd like to sign Monica as a client. "I'd represent her in a heartbeat," Goldberg said. "Her book would fly out of the stores."
I wonder who'd ghostwrite it?
Maybe a former journalist like . . . Sidney Blumenthal!
Blumenthal was part of the parade of nonentities who trudged in and out of the grand jury last week, including folks who worked with Lewinsky at the White House. But it was the appearance of the condescending Sid "The Squid" Blumenthal that made all working journalists cry foul, because they felt that the First Amendment was being abridged when a White House aide could be hauled in and made to spill the names of the hacks he was talking to off the record. The issue of exposing confidential sources is a very touchy one in my profession. The last thing we want is for a grand jury to ask who the "source" was on that $150 expense account dinner at the Palm.
All this played out amid the backdrop of the ongoing hissy fit between the White House and Ken Starr, Sheriff of Nottingham. Starr, who's so thin-skinned it's amazing he can shave in the morning and not bleed to death, is flinging subpoenas at a rate that is going to single-handedly provide a new S-class Mercedes for every lawyer in town. Imagine getting paid $500 an hour just for sitting outside a grand jury room -- it's enough to make college kids stop wanting to write "Ally McBeal" and try to be Ally McBeal.
So just as this was turning into everything I dreamed for -- a story that would allow me to use the phrase "oral sex" in every paragraph! -- it has become a lawyers story.
Now it's about subpoenas and executive privilege. Or maybe it's about the privilege of the executive's subpoenas.
So the spotlight's on the lawyers, especially Mr. Bill, who now goes everywhere with his new best friend, Wolf Blitzer. I've heard they're planning to do "La Cage aux Folles" in summer stock.
Sadly, Mr. Bill is feeling the pinch. Last week he set up a legal defense fund for his client, begging the public to kick in. "My poor little girl can't pay her bills. We have no money," Ginsburg moaned, noting that Monica's dad, Dr. Bernard Lewinsky, had already paid "as much as he had."
Perhaps it is chintzy of me to point out that a couple of pages away in the same newspaper where Mr. Bill was lamenting that the Lewinskys have run out of money, Mr. Bill himself was pictured getting into a limousine. Take the subway, pal. Or get Tim Russert to drive you.
And the very next night Mr. Bill and Monica ate dinner at Morton's, a steak joint where it's impossible to get out the door for less than $100 a person.
So if you're contributing to the Monica Defense Fund, make sure to include an additional 20 percent for tips. And $3 for valet parking.
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