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April 30, 1993

NEWSPAPER writers, broadcasters, political scientists and even the White House can't seem to agree on when Bill Clinton's 100 days ended.

Some say it was yesterday. Some say it is today.

It's both.

YESTERDAY: Clinton was sworn in at noon on Jan. 20. Jan. 20 was Day One, so yesterday, April 29, was his hundredth day:

12 days in January

+ 28 days in February

+ 31 days in March

+ 29 days in April

= 100 days.

TODAY: Clinton was sworn in at noon on Jan. 20. His First Day in office did not occur until noon on Jan. 21. So the arithmetic is 11 + 28 + 31 + 30 = 100.

The tradition of checking up on presidents after 100 days in office dates to 1933.

Then, with the nation in the paralysis of the Great Depression, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a newly elected Congress enacted a number of far-reaching changes in government and economic policy during the first three months of the new administration.

Congress went into a special 99-day session a few days after FDR was sworn in.

The day after that session ended, FDR signed the last of several acts into law.

So: 99 + 1 = 100.

The phrase "the hundred days" was borrowed in 1933 from a much earlier event in history.

Napoleon escaped from exile in Elba and marched his army victoriously across Europe till he got to Waterloo.

This period was actually 116 days, but headline writers even in

those days preferred round numbers.

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