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New evils make book on Clintons nostalgic

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The book is No. 7 on the New York Times best-seller list, which says as much about the past as it does the present.

"The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House" is the book that author and Washington insider Barbara Olson finished just days before she boarded a terrorist-piloted jetliner that crash-landed into the Pentagon, killing everyone on board.

But the crash didn't take Olson's manuscript — a good, old-fashioned rip job attacking the pardons, peculiar lawmaking, questionable political maneuvering and furniture absconding engendered by Bill and Hillary Clinton as they left the White House in January 2001.

Believe it or not, that was only a year ago.

As in many diatribes before it, the Clintons are spared no pardon in "The Final Days" and Americans from coast to coast are snapping the book up, using it to stroll down memory lane and return to those innocent old days when "The president lied to us all on TV."

Who'd have thought?

Truth is stranger than fiction and here's more proof. For nine months, ever since Bill and Hillary walked out of the White House with a piano almost literally tied on their backs, Olson had been hard at work chronicling the hubris, the greed, and the abject lack of integrity of the first lady and the president of the United States, 1992-2000.

Then she flies, literally, into a tragedy so awful and so disgraceful that it makes the Clintons, as Barbara Olson might have metaphorically observed, "look like Ozzie and Harriet."

Suddenly, in the world post-Sept. 11, Bill Clinton's infamous pardons — a record 140 of them on his final day of office along with 36 commuted prison sentences — seem like light reading; something to get your mind off the religious fanatics who use planes and innocent people to bomb buildings.

If Olson were still alive, the timing would no doubt be downright galling to her; the way world events, once again, conspired to take the Clintons off center stage and out of the hot seat.

But what a better world it would be if she was still alive — and the shenanigans of the Clintons were still the hot topic of the day.

In the book's final chapter, "A Bang, Not a Whimper," Olson notes that Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has selected three memorable statements from Bill Clinton's days in office. They include:

"I experimented with marijuana a time or two. And I didn't like it, and didn't inhale, and never tried it again."

"I am going to say this again; I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the — if he — if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not — that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement."

"What a way to be remembered," Olson writes. "Three of the most extravagant and laughable lies in political history."

She concludes that in Clinton's own forthcoming book, for which he has received a $10 million advance, he will "blame all his fortunes and shortcomings on others. He will not, one can say with virtual certainty, face the facts and tell the truth."

Ah, the good old days.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.