The trials of Whitewater

August 12, 1994|By Art Buchwald

ADMITTEDLY the Whitewater hearings are not as interesting as the O.J. Simpson court motions, but a man has to watch something on his summer vacation.

The advantage of the Whitewater hearings is that there are so many more people involved. At a recent one, there were 980 members of Congress and one witness.

It went something like this:

"Mr. Ruth, you have stated under oath that you come from California. As you know, I also come from California, and the good people of that state have elected me to office six times.

I am proudest of having passed a bill that provides free medical care for every redwood tree in my district as well as a cash payment of $100 to each tree that has suffered from U.S. Army poison gas experiments in the forest.

"Now, Mr. Ruth, I have read the record that was put together by my able staff, without which I could not do my job, and I would like to ask you a question."

"Will the congressman from California yield?"

"I will yield to the congressman from Zenda, Ore."

"I would like to say that this hearing today is not a witch hunt, but it is our duty to find out all the facts about Whitewater -- especially the ones being withheld by Special Prosecutor Fiske. We have been mandated by Congress to find out if there is a link between Whitewater and the White House. I was a prosecutor back in Zenda, and many times I smelled a rat when people were telling me they didn't know anything about a certain body of water. I have a newspaper clipping here from the Portland Oregonian, and I would like to read from its sports pages."

"Your time is up."

"Will the gentleman from California yield two minutes?"

"Yes, and might I say that's a lovely dress you're wearing today, Congresswoman Dearfield."

"I resent the attitude of the male members of this panel who give the impression they are the only ones interested in getting to the bottom of Whitewater. For the record, I am the only one who has ever been kayaking on the Whitewater, and I never saw any wrongdoing by the president or Hillary while I was there."

"Thank you. We seem to be running out of time. Does anyone else have questions for the witness?"

"I'd like to ask him what he was doing the night the police were chasing O.J. Simpson in the white Bronco on the San Diego Freeway."

"You're out of order, Congressman Xavier. We promised Special Prosecutor Fiske we would not ask any questions concerning O.J. until Fiske questions the president on his role in doing all those dumb things in Haiti."

"Well, if there are no more questions, the witness may step

down. I would like to caution you that anything you have said here today may not be repeated to the press. We don't want anything to leak out that might taint our thorough hearings."

7+ Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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