And now for the next installment of "As the Rumor Mill Churns": Sponsored this week by Coke ...
Conservative Web site NewsMax.com, whose columnist Carl Limbacher claims to have been the first to break Gennifer Flowers' allegations that Clinton told her he'd used cocaine (an accusation the White House flatly denied Tuesday, saying, "The president has never done cocaine [in] his entire life"), is upping the allegation-crazed ante.
In a story headlined "Did Bill Clinton Overdose on Cocaine?" NewsMax is looking to get a little extra mileage out of old, unproven coke-related rumors that have been knocking about in conservative circles since at least 1996: that President Clinton has not only snorted the powdery white stuff, but that he nearly OD'd on one fateful occasion in the early '80s.
In an article written by editor Chris Ruddy, published under the byline "Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com staff" and run as a package with several other stories alleging that Clinton was a big-time cokehead, the site cites Dr. Sam Houston, "a respected Little Rock physician and once doctor for Hillary's cantankerous father, Hugh Rodham" (and the man behind the phrase "What in Sam Houston?"), as relaying that it is "well-known in Little Rock medical circles" that, while governor of Arkansas, Clinton was rushed to a Little Rock hospital to be treated for an "apparent cocaine overdose."
But wait, that's not all; Ruddy allegedly has it from Houston, who allegedly has it from "someone intimately familiar with the details of what happened that night," that when Hillary arrived on the scene, "she told both of the resident physicians on duty that night that they would never practice medicine in the United States if word leaked out about Clinton's drug problem." What's more, the site vividly alleges, "she pinned one of the doctors up against the wall, both hands pressed against his shoulders, as she gave her dire warning." (Excuse me, Ms. Clinton, the WWF is holding for you on line 2.)
Intrigued, Nothing Personal got on the phone (line 1) with Limbacher, who told us that, while he wasn't sure whether Ruddy had spoken with Houston again for this article, he had interviewed him back in 1994, during Paula Jones' early moments in the sun. (Neither Houston nor Ruddy were able to respond to our attempts to contact them by press time.)
Limbacher also said that Houston's alleged allegations are supported by others made in an article written by American Spectator editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell and printed in the Washington Times on Oct. 4, 1996. (Tyrrell's piece is rife with rumors and theories and depicts the president as a young drug user with a "nose like a vacuum cleaner.")
According to this piece, which Limbacher was kind enough to send along, "possible witnesses to the alleged scene at the emergency room ... are not very forthcoming" and one "stated she feared for her life."
"I don't think R. Emmett Tyrrell would make anything up. I believe there are people who said these things to him," says Limbacher, before allowing, "I'm sure there are other people who will not be willing to take Tyrrell's word for that."
Yes, I think that can be safely assumed.
Limbacher says that, while other news organizations are currently looking into these elderly emergency-room rumors, he doesn't think revisiting the issue will ultimately have much effect, but that they have already "dampened media interest in the George W. story."
Has anyone seen my huntin' dog?
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And write it in blue blood, if you would
"The whole thing is ludicrous. What do I include -- my inside leg measurement?"
-- Outraged Tory peer Lord Mancroft on the requirement that hereditary peers explain in 75 words or less why they should be allowed to remain in the British House of Lords.
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Spy-guy Tapper unmasked!
Is Salon's own secret agent man, Jake Tapper, Monica Lewinsky's most famous nookie-free datee and most gentlemanly defender, a "propagandist for Mossad, CIA or both," as a keen-thinking conspiracy tracker has alleged in an online chat room?
"I urge the public to contact Jake Tapper and ask him if he and Lewinsky are Mossad agents," the nutty Netty, driven by a theory so convoluted I couldn't begin to boil it down to anything approaching clarity, needled on dejanews.com. (Suffice it to say, the names Brit Hume, Lucianne Goldberg, Linda Tripp and Ken Starr's wife were also mentioned.)
So, never one not to act on an urge, I marched down the hall to Tapper's office, a distance of more than 15 feet. As I approached, I couldn't help but notice a faint evil glimmer in his eye as he fiendishly tapped out what may well have been a secret-coded message on his laptop. And didn't he look just a little too much like a "Salon scribe"?
I shot right from the hip, before he could reach for the dart-throwing pen sitting just inches away from him on his desk.
"Tapper," I said, "what's all this about you being an agent for Mossad?"
Untrue, he said. "I'm actually on her Majesty's Secret Service."
"And that woman, Ms. Lewinsky?"
To his credit, Tapper didn't flat out deny it. (You know what happens to people who do that.) "She's KGB," he admitted, crushed like a bug under my intense interrogation techniques.
But wait, was it a trick? This guy was too smooth, I thought, he must be up to something.
"Why would someone think such a thing of you?" I said, stalling for time as I looked for his office's secret escape hatch.
"Q or Moneypenny must have gone out drinking again," he said, inching just slightly toward what I had always assumed was an innocent heating duct.
"Well," I said, with a querulous quickness: "Why would Lewinsky have dated a guy like [you] if she wasn't involved in espionage of some sort?"
"Good point," Tapper quipped, his cackle echoing long after he evaporated into thin air.
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Details, details ...
You readers really are showing your true morbid colors. Several of you sick f..., I mean art lovers, e-mailed urgent requests for information about the serial murderer art show, "Victimizing Visions, An Exhibit of Art by Serial Killers." Curated by Baird Jones, the exhibit is at Webster Hall on East 11th Street in New York and runs through this Sunday.