If you're planning a dinner party, take this bit of sage advice: Don't invite Bill Clinton.
Big Bill is so desperate for attention these days that he might actually show up, and then you'd have a hard time getting rid of him as he jabbered on into the wee hours while your other guests stifle yawns and sneak peeks at their watches.
"Those who socialize with Clinton say there's no off switch even when he's relaxed," Robert Sam Anson writes in an amazing article on Clinton's post-presidential years in the June issue of Vanity Fair. Anson backs up that point with a series of devastating anonymous quotes from Clinton cronies:
"He just talks. You don't really have a conversation with him."
"He is just self-absorbed. Totally."
"He's always the last to leave."
"He can't stand to be alone."
Anson is a veteran journalist and author who chronicled the ex-presidency of Richard Nixon in the 1984 book "Exile." Now, watching Clinton, he concludes that the ex-prez suffers from "spotlight starvation" -- a compulsion characterized by "a hankering for attention that makes him a joke even to admirers."
After leaving office in 2001, Anson says, Clinton was so bored sitting in Chappaqua, N.Y., while his wife worked in the Senate that he showed up at a local elementary school one morning to watch a school play. Another time, he invited a couple of local 12-year-olds into his living room to chat about the impact of technology on everyday life.
"He was," Anson theorizes, "desperate for company."
These days, Clinton is tanned and trim, his famous paunch whittled away by the South Beach Diet and a tenacious German trainer. But his charisma is still intact and when he strolls down the street, Anson reports, people yell, "I wish you were still president."
Other folks are even friendlier. Last year, Clinton dined in a Palm Beach restaurant with Bill McBride, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida. "They were greeted by a table of several young women," Anson writes, "one of whom -- to the hysterical amusement of neighboring diners -- volunteered to perform Monica's specialty on the spot."
That was a nice ego-boost for Clinton but it didn't do much for McBride, who lost to Jeb Bush in a landslide. In fact, Anson reports, the candidates Clinton supports tend to lose. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes helping to line up money and support for Wesley Clark, all to no avail. Now, Republicans will be happy to learn, he's advising John Kerry in weekly phone calls.
Clinton is full of energy but much of it is squandered, Anson writes. He can't sit still, flitting from place to place around the globe to make speeches and hobnob with celebrities. He thinks nothing of flying to Qatar and back in 24 hours. Paid $12 million to write his memoir, he dawdles, says Anson, wasting time on dubious projects like his lame "debates" with Bob Dole on "60 Minutes."
"He's about the smartest guy I ever knew in my life," says Don Hewitt, the veteran "60 Minutes" producer who hired and fired Clinton, but "he is torn in a million directions."
For a while, Clinton focused his ample talents on one issue -- AIDS -- and he made a difference. In 2002, Anson writes, Clinton used his connections and his charisma to line up sources of discount AIDS drugs for poor countries in Africa and the Caribbean, saving countless lives. Then he got restless and moved on to other things.
"He was like this in the White House, too," a former aide told Anson. "He wanted to do 20 things at once."
In a recent poll, Americans ranked Clinton the third greatest president in history, right after Lincoln and JFK. Historians are unlikely to be so kind. But, Anson writes, President Bush is making Clinton look better these days.
"The bloody blundering in Iraq," Anson writes, "has produced a new bumper sticker: 'When Clinton Lied, Nobody Died.' "
Tips Worth Tattooing
Are you looking for a job but terrified of those nerve-racking job interviews?
Have no fear. Everything you need to know about job interviews is revealed in the June issue of Easyriders, a biker magazine that specializes in photos of motorcycles topped with topless women.
The goal of a job interview, writes Greg White, is "to convince a total stranger to give you a job without letting him see that you're the kind of person who draws beards on pictures in the newspaper and falls asleep on the toilet."
One thing to remember at a job interview, White advises, is that you're required to answer the questions. "You can't pretend that you're in court and refuse to answer on the grounds that you might incriminate yourself. A job interview is nothing like court. You have no rights."
Because of what he calls his "unique personality," White has lost many jobs and therefore has been forced to endure a lot of job interviews. This experience has led him to identify six questions you're sure to be asked. The worst of them is the dreaded "What are your weaknesses?"
"This question is tricky," White says. "You don't want to accidentally let any of your real weaknesses slip out, such as easy women, cheap liquor, strippers, X-rated movies and phone sex lines."
Fortunately, interviewers don't want to hear these unpleasant truths. In fact, they don't want to hear any truths. "They want you to dream up an answer that will truely [sic] demonstrate your ability to respond to stupid questions without breaking into a sweat," White writes. "There's really no wrong answer, as long as you don't tell the truth."
One bit of advice White forgot to include: Never go to a job interview wearing a T-shirt advertised in Easyriders. Employers tend not to hire folks whose shirts say "Heavily Medicated for Your Protection" or "I hear voices, and they don't like you."