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SILLY WHITEWATER HEARINGS A BIG POLITICAL FOOD FIGHT

Just what we needed: more stupid congressional hearings.

But it's no big surprise. Get yourself a stupid Congress and you're bound to get stupid congressional hearings.Our grossly overpaid lawmakers apparently don't have enough to do, for they spend countless hours staging televised spectacles that provide no significant information and serve no useful purpose.

So it was that a pair of House subcommittees gave us a totally unnecessary 10-day hearing on David Koresh, and no sooner does the gavel fall on that travesty than we find ourselves hot and heavy into House AND Senate hearings on the will-we-never-hear-the-end-of-it Whitewater affair.

The hearings on the government's 1993 standoff with Koresh were political pandering of the unseemliest sort, prompted as they were by the irrational rantings of conspiracy nuts and anti-government fanatics.

But these Whitewater hearings may be even dumber because White-water is the subject of an ongoing, exorbitantly expensive investigation by an independent counsel.

The "independent" prosecutor, by the way, is a highly partisan Republican activist who can be counted on to leave no stone unturned when it comes to digging up dirt on President Clinton, his wife and all their associates in and around the Whitewater real estate venture in Arkansas.

In other words, we don't need Congress sticking its nose into Whitewater.

But Congress, populated as it is by self-promoting egomaniacs, integrity-deficient political attack dogs and large numbers of just plain nitwits, is genetically incapable of leaving well enough alone.

Congress lives by those memorable words uttered by the great Jimmy Durante: "Everybody's gotta get into the act!"

And just so you Republicans out there don't get the idea I'm opposed to these hearings only because they've been called by the GOP majorities in Congress, let me point out that I also thought the Iran-contra hearings were a farce.

Those hearings did not merely duplicate a special prosecutor's investigation, which was a waste of time and money in its own right, but actually interfered with it. The Iran-contra hearings compromised the prosecution of lawbreakers and contributed nothing to the public's understanding of the issues involved.

So save all that garbage about your friendly neighborhood columnist being one more cog in a liberal media machine that wants to cover up the truth about Whitewater. I'd love to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But here's a bulletin: We will not learn the truth about Whitewater or about anything else from congressional TV extravaganzas in which partisan backbiting and blatant self-promotion transcend every other pursuit. These hearings are nothing more than political food fights.

Much like the Waco hearings, the Whitewater hearings have two fundamental goals: to embarrass the Clinton administration and to pander to a small-but-noisy minority of Americans.

In this case, the noisemakers are those who simply won't accept the reality that Clinton has done nothing that could lead to impeachment or imprisonment.