Pierce, Greg, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
"Sure it was expensive, but the $52 million spent on independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr's probe of Whitewater, Travelgate, and Monica Lewinsky probably paid for itself and maybe scored a profit for taxpayers via tax revenues generated from book and video sales and TV specials," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"Unofficial tabulations of money made in the marketing of Whitewater and Monicagate alone are in the tens of millions of dollars, and the tax take should easily top Starr's budget, say tax pros. `It's difficult to imagine that the government received less than $52 million [from] private-sector spin,' says Pete Sepp, vice president of the National Taxpayers Union.
"Consider: ABC reportedly made $30 million - up to 35 percent taxable - on its Lewinsky interview; gobs of Clinton scandal books have sold well; Lewinsky profited through sales of handbags and flacking for Jenny Craig; lawyers made millions; cable TV fed off the scandal; even C-SPAN sold tapes. `It's probably one of the most bizarre public-private ventures ever,' says Sepp."
"You've got to hand it to David Westin," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes.
"The president of ABC News has achieved the impossible: he gave the Clinton White House the moral high ground," Miss Dowd said.
"Bill Clinton relished turning the tables on his press tormentors. Now it was ABC that was guilty of parsing words and shading truth.
" `ABC doesn't know whether Leo and I had an interview, a walk-through, or a drive-by,' Mr. Clinton joked at a press banquet. `Don't you news people ever learn? It isn't the mistake that kills you; it's the cover-up.' "
Miss Dowd and the president were referring, of course, to the Leonardo DeCaprio "Earth Day" interview with the president, which has caused ABC no end of embarrassment.
FIDEL'S BEST FRIEND
"By now, anyone who has followed the saga of Elian Gonzalez knows that the [National Council of Churches] is deeply involved in the story," Tucker Carlson writes in the Weekly Standard.
"NCC officials were instrumental in convincing Greg Craig, the Washington lawyer whose previous clients have included Bill Clinton and John Hinckley, to represent Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. Last week, the NCC chartered the jet that flew Juan Miguel to Washington. From its offices in New York, the NCC press office has issued statement after statement demanding that the U.S. government return Elian to Cuba. At every point, the NCC's positions on the case have been indistinguishable from those of the Cuban government, down to its insistence that the boy not be given American citizenship," Mr. Tucker says.
"Why would a church group spend so much time and money propagandizing on behalf of an atheist government famously intolerant of religious expression? The official NCC explanation makes vague references to `human rights.' The more accurate answer might be: habit. The National Council of Churches has long gone far beyond the call of fashionably liberal Protestantism in its defense of Fidel Castro."
If Vice President Al Gore is "serious" about campaign finance reform, "he'll demand a complete and full investigation" of fund-raising in the 1996 presidential campaign, Sen. John C. McCain, Arizona Republican, said yesterday.
Interviewed on CNN's "Late Edition," Mr. McCain, unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said he believes national security issues need to be addressed in such a probe, referring to campaign contributions suspected to have come from the Chinese government.
Mr. Gore, the prospective Democratic nominee for president, has vowed to make campaign finance reform the "centerpiece" of his election bid.
Mr. Gore "will show his sincerity" about that pledge if he orders a full investigation of 1996 abuses, said Mr. …