Did we need this?

Enough already: A decade of allegations, special prosecutors and blue dresses was a decade too many.

March 09, 2002

What we could have done with $70 million:

Hire 1,400 teachers for a year.

Send 120,000 tons of food to Afghanistan.

Give a dollar to every hungry person in the Horn of Africa.

Compensate American farmers for the livestock they lose every year to coyotes.

Buy 134,000 tons of imported black plate steel. (Tariffs not included.)

Reconstruct the rail line from Samarkand to Bukhara along the route of Uzbekistan's fabled silk road.

Provide early intervention for 24,000 young disabled children.

Pay off Albert Belle's contract with the Orioles.

Send 2,300 students to Ivy League colleges for a year.

Purchase and renovate 48 houses for university presidents, just as nice as Towson's.

Show support for New York by buying a million tickets to Broadway shows. (Except The Producers, which is sold out until August.)

Pay the difference in cost between building a ship in a U.S. yard and building one abroad.

Overhaul 700 Chesapeake Bay skipjacks - if only there were that many.

Pick up the tab for the Winter Paralympics.

Remake Gone With the Wind, in today's dollars.

Triple CBS' offer to David Letterman, thus saving Nightline.

Give every American a 25-cent tax rebate.

Any one of those would have been a better idea than this:

Spend 10 years on an investigation into a $203,000 land deal that went sour; and when that investigation doesn't turn up much of anything, somehow redirect it into an obsessive effort to entrap the president of the United States in a lie over an affair.

"Well, I could have put him in prison if I'd wanted to," was what the current special prosecutor was saying this week, as he wrapped up the whole thing and prepared to close the case.

"What was that all about?" asked the rest of us.

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