Things are looking decidedly bleak these days for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. His troops are scrambling out of Kosovo, the Serbian church is calling for his resignation and there's that pesky indictment by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
But not to worry. Loop Fans round the world have come up with an outstanding list of lawyers who can doubtless save his hide. O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran was the favored pick by nearly one-third of all entrants. The reason was that Cochran can get the most obviously guilty defendant acquitted.
The Cochran entries came with possible lines of defense, including: "The Kosovars split, you must acquit," or "If the refugees flee, then it wasn't me," and "Lay off the Slob, he's just doing his job."
Another favorite pick was President Clinton, for a variety of reasons, including his ability to argue the finer points of the exact meaning of "cleansing." Other favorites were independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian, Alan Dershowitz, Brendan Sullivan, Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, Dick Morris and Rep. James E. Rogan (R-Calif.).
But here are the Loop's 10 best lawyers for Milosevic to hire and why they'd be great picks:
* "Saiontz & Kirk, because he has a telephone."--Martin Angebranndt, a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Arlington.
* "The entire law firm from the Ally McBeal show, since the only way he could possibly win would be in a fantasy world."--Chuck O'Malley, information management specialist in the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
* "The Devil himself."--a Belgrade psychologist named Bran [last name withheld].
* "Peter Angelos, to get him out of town and away from the Orioles."--Department of Education economist Manuel Smith.
* "The Vatican's Devil's Advocate, who challenges nominations for sainthood. If he can make a saint into a sinner, he can make a sinner into a saint."--Kathy Murray, senior associate at Benchmarks Inc. in Georgetown.
* "William Ginsburg, for having mastered the most important skill of a public figure in the Balkans: stepping gracefully around bomb craters of your own making."--Los Angeles lawyer Mark Steinberg.
* "Hillary Rodham Clinton, because she could lose all the evidence and also invest him in commodities so he could pay her bill."--Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing.
* "Oscar Goldman, newly elected mayor of Las Vegas. As former counsel to such mob notables as Tony 'The Ant' Spilotro, I'd think Oscar would relish the opportunity to further enhance his client portfolio by taking on a defendant without the familiar litany of pesky federal tax, racketeering and loan-sharking charges."--Robin Grove, an attorney and consultant in Arlington.
* Geoffrey Fieger, for his "experience gained from defending Kevorkian."--Larry Mason, executive assistant in the office of the associate commissioner of hearings and appeals for the Social Security Administration.
* "Yogi Berra. Here is a man who can truly speak for Slobo," suggested Elmira Bayrasli, assistant to Thomas Miller, special envoy to Cyprus and ambassador-designate to Bosnia. For example: "On the NATO airstrikes: 'How can you think and hit at the same time?' " or, "On the peace negotiations: 'It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.' " or " 'Even Napoleon had his Watergate.' "
Congratulations to all and thanks for playing. Loop T-shirts are en route.
Act II: the Curtain Rises in Kosovo
Speaking of the Balkans . . . When last we left White House aide Jonathan Prince, known in the White House as the "Fresh Prince of Belgium," he was off to Brussels to help poor NATO spokesman Jamie Shea spruce up his act. Must have done well because Prince has now been dispatched to Pristina to live in a tent and dine on those yummy military MREs with Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson. So now it's the Fresh Prince of Pristina?
No Scone Left Unturned
Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) sparked some double takes with this one at the confirmation hearing yesterday for Richard C. Holbrooke as U.N. ambassador: "It is, Mr. Chairman, I think now fair to conclude that on the basis of the investigation of the last year, Mr. Holbrooke is now potentially the most investigated member of the executive branch of this government."
Got a long ways to go to catch up with the head of that branch.
And the chairman, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), grilled Holbrooke on ethics questions, including a dinner Holbrooke billed to his employer, Credit Suisse First Boston, as a business expense for $760.92.
"You hosted the U.S. ambassador and others. . . . And it's fair to assume," Helms said, "that that was indeed a business affair. Is that right?"
"No sir," Holbrooke deftly parried. "That was my first wedding anniversary."
"We'll strike that one then," Helms said, as the packed hearing room dissolved in laughter.
Customs of the Corps
Commissioner of Customs Raymond W. Kelly, the lean, mean ex-Marine, was back at his duty station Wednesday afternoon, issuing orders to his staff. No big deal, except that he had coronary bypass surgery on Friday. Obviously recovering quickly.