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Revisionist history as art form

In the span of two days last week, two bizarre things happened.

First, Salt Lake Olympic head Mitt Romney had to endure a tongue lashing from the International Olympic Committee, whose members placed the entire Olympic scandal at the feet of Utahns.Then, a Clinton administration official told a congressional committee that, contrary to evidence on documents Congress subpoenaed last year, the White House engaged in "vigorous debate" with state leaders before creating the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument.

Maybe somebody declared it "opposite week" and forgot to tell us.

The amazing thing is that, in both incidents, everyone involved managed to keep a straight face. Most people at least blush when they tell a whopper.

Utahns don't need anyone to remind them of the truth in either painful experience, but just in case, we would like to set the record straight.

Yes, Salt Lake Olympic Organizers share some blame in the Olympic scandal that rocked the international athletic community. They have dealt with it by obtaining resignations and hiring new people. But bribery is a two-way crime. One side has to offer, and the other side has to take. In this case, the IOC not only took, some of its members demanded the bribes in the first place. That's why the IOC decided to expel six of its members and severely reprimand a seventh. Remember?

Of course, the IOC doesn't want to part with some its many millions to help the cash-strapped Utah organizers now that the scandal has taken its toll. That was the real story behind the reprimand. But, really, when Turkish member Sinan Erdem told Romney not to worry because he would be perfectly happy in a chauffeur-driven Jeep instead of a chauffeur-driven limousine, did you feel any sense of relief?

The Clinton administration has its own motives, as well. Congress is considering a bill that would require public hearings and studies before a president could summarily create a monument, and the White House would hate to lose that power. So it's easier for them to say that, yes, they suddenly remembered, they did make phone calls to the governor and the state's congressional delegation. They even, we presume, remember talking with Democratic Rep. Bill Orton, who lost his seat in the next election because of voter anger over the monument.

In fact, the only notice the administration gave anyone in Utah came through a story in the Washington Post 11 days before the monument was created. Documents show the White House did it as a political ploy and wanted to keep the decision from the Utah delegation as long as possible.

Americans have been accused of lacking a sense of history, but this is ridiculous.