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File It Under Tricky Connection on Presidential Hotline

Looks like the first lady will survive the news that she had a “session” with Eleanor Roosevelt. Wait till it gets out, though, that President Clinton dialed up Richard Nixon over Filegate and actually made a psychic connection.

Clinton: Mr. President?

Nixon: Dick Nixon here.

Clinton: Mr. President, Bill Clinton on this end, here in the Oval Office. I’m in a little trouble and was wondering--

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Nixon: Not more girlfriend problems? That’s not my department.

Clinton: No, nothing like that. We’ve got a little flap around here over some FBI files that sort of found their way into the White House.

Nixon: Why didn’t you say so? Are you sure you don’t want J. Edgar Hoover?

Clinton: No, no, he can’t help. Besides, I can’t relate to him the way I can to you. It’s the whole rouge-and-eyeliner thing.

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Nixon: You ought to see him now. Looks more and more like Minnie Pearl every day.

Clinton: That’s funny, but back to business. I’m in some hot water over these files. They showed up, and some people think I might have been trying to use them to dig up some dirt on political enemies.

Nixon: Yeah? So?

Clinton: Well, people are a little touchy about things like that.

Nixon: Still? Aren’t they over that yet? Ask them if there’s ever been a political leader who didn’t dig up dirt on his opponents. Of course, you do it illegally. Do they think you just call them up and ask them if they have any skeletons? Sheesh. It’s as old as Nero. By the way, do you want to talk to him? Helluva funny guy, once you get to know him.

Clinton: No, I really wanted to pick your brain. Even though things didn’t turn out that well for you on that Watergate business, I thought you might have some pointers on how I could handle things. You know, hindsight being 20-20 and all that.

Nixon: John Dean isn’t your lawyer, is he?

Clinton: No.

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Nixon: Oval Office taping system?

Clinton: Nope.

Nixon: Well, you’re already ahead of me, then. For starters, terminology is important. After the Watergate break-in, you remember, we came up with “second-rate burglary.” Tried to play the whole thing down.

Clinton: I went with “bureaucratic snafu.” How does that sound?

Nixon: Mistake. You did just what we did. If you minimize it and they find out later there’s something there, they never let you forget it. The press loved to throw that second-rate burglary stuff in our faces.

Clinton: Thanks, good point. I’m writing that down. What else?

Nixon: Our big problem was with blabbermouths. Too many people with confessor complexes. How are you fixed there?

Clinton: Hard to say. We don’t know much about those guys. But we don’t really have anything to confess. We haven’t done anything wrong.

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Nixon: Right. Hey, this is me you’re talking to, OK? You’re not really going with that story, are you? They’ll eat you alive. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have spilled my guts and said I created an atmosphere where my people thought I wanted dirt on my opponents. Plus, I would have cried on TV.

Clinton: I could do that.

Nixon: I presume you have a scapegoat picked out?

Clinton: Well, like I said, we haven’t really done--

Nixon: Don’t waste my time. Find the guy who looks the worst on TV and blame him. We went with Dean because we thought he looked squirrelly. Almost worked.

Clinton: This is so exasperating. Do they really think we needed dirt? We’re way ahead.

Nixon: That’s what they said about me too. What people don’t know about FBI files is that you hardly ever use them to dig up dirt. They’re just great bedtime reading. Makes you feel presidential. Am I right?

Clinton: Absolutely. Did you know that Dole sleeps in a floor-length turquoise nightie?

Nixon: Of course I knew that.

Clinton: What if the worst-case scenario happens, and I have to resign. How do I react?

Nixon: Never let them have a confession on record. That way, you can always be rehabilitated and still get your own library.

Clinton: Thanks for your help, but I have to run. Hillary wants to use the room.

Nixon: Glad to help. Whoa, I almost forgot the most important thing of all.

Clinton: What’s that?

Nixon: Stay friendly with Al Gore. You never know when you might need a favor from him.

Dana Parsons’ column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by writing to him at the Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or calling (714) 966-7821.


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