What White House vandalism?

An audit of the alleged trashing by outgoing Clintonites finds the rumors of destruction were greatly exaggerated.

Published May 18, 2001 4:23PM (EDT)

At the request of Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., the General Services Administration investigated reports of widespread vandalism by members of the outgoing Clinton White House.

Rumors of the destruction dominated online banter in the days after President Bush took office. Posters at the Free Republic cried coverup. "Nothing new. The clinton butt lickers have been covering up for them for years," wrote one poster.

But according to a story in the Kansas City Star Friday, "The White House vandalism flap earlier this year was a flop. The agency [GSA] concluded that departing members of the Clinton administration had not trashed the place during the presidential transition, as unidentified aides to President Bush and other critics had insisted."

The paper reports that there was "no wholesale slashing of cords to computers, copiers and telephones, no evidence of lewd graffiti or pornographic images. GSA didn't bother to nail down reports of pranks, which were more puckish than destructive."

The story says it was true that the "W" key went missing from some computer keyboards and that there were some "official-looking signs on doors, saying things like 'Office of Strategery,' after a popular 'Saturday Night Live' spoof on Bush."

Now that the results are in, it's the Democrats who are crying foul.

"Remember Rush [Limbaugh] spewing all that stuff about graffiti on the walls and porn on the desks? Isn't someone going to call him on his lies?" asks one poster at Democratic Underground.

"Of course, you won't find this refutation of the Bush big lie on the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post," writes another. "That's because they prefer to bite on the bait that [Karl] Rove and [Ari] Fleischer dangle in front of them. They are great at trashing the reputations of anyone the Bush propaganda machine decides to slander, but they draw the line at pointing out how they've been taken for a ride in the careening Bush character assassination mobile."

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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