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web posted November 6, 2000

Clinton upset that interview released before election

Clinton on EsquirePresident Clinton defended his remarks on October 30 in an Esquire magazine interview in which he said congressional Republicans owe the nation an apology for his impeachment.

But he also expressed anger that those comments had been released before Election Day.

And he urged Americans to read the interview for themselves rather than judge his remarks based on what others say he said.

Speaking to reporters about budget battles with Congress, Clinton was asked about the interview in the magazine's December issue. The president indicated he was annoyed that excerpts of that interview had been released. It was posted in full on the magazine's Web site.

"I was promised faithfully that that interview would be done at least after the election and I believed it," Clinton said. "And the only thing I can say is, I doubt if you read the whole interview or you wouldn't have asked the question in that way, and I would just urge the American people, if they're hearing all this talk, to read exactly what was said."

In the interview, Clinton faulted Republicans for pursuing his impeachment, saying they were driven by politics and were not interested in the truth.

The House of Representatives impeached Clinton in December 1998 over charges related to his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Senate later acquitted Clinton.

"Unlike them, I have apologized to the American people for what I did wrong, and most Americans think I paid a pretty high price," Clinton said in the interview. "They never apologized to the country for impeachment. They never apologized for all the things they've done."

"Most people know that what they did was not about morality or truth or the law, it was about politics and power and didn't have anything to do with them or their welfare; it had to do with the Republicans and their welfare," he added.

The day before, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, called Clinton's comments "absolutely bizarre" and rejected the call for an apology.

"It shows you something about his thinking and the judgment that he has," Lott said on ABC's This Week. "Look, he disgraced the office. He did things in the Oval Office that are absolutely still incredible and then he lied about it."

When Clinton was asked to expand on his comments made to Esquire, he would only say that he had given the interview to the magazine after being promised it would not be published until after the Nov. 7 presidential election.

White House officials said the Esquire interview was one of a series of interviews designed to run later in the year.

After a wide-ranging talk of his feelings about his presidency and the changes he had made, Clinton gave an upbeat assessment of his eight years in the White House.

"I've had a wonderful, wonderful time. It's been good for -- a fabulous experience for my family -- for my wife and for my daughter, and I'll always be glad I did it. And I'm still working at it. I loved it. I loved it."

He said what he went through was "peanuts" compared to what a lot of people around the world went through to pursue what they think is right in public service.

"There were days when I was angry and days when I gave myself a pity party. But I worked through it, and it was, on occasion, almost surreal," he said. "I think in a funny way, even the bad parts of this, the experience, was quite good for me, and I think it will make me a better person for the rest of my life," he added.

'Nader trader' vote swap site shut down

California authorities have shut down a vote swap Web site aimed at so-called "Nader traders" -- people in battleground states who agree to vote for Democrat Al Gore if someone in a less contested state votes for the Green Party's Ralph Nader.

"We did notify the site manager that they were in violation of California election law and they did need to cease activities on the Web site, and they complied," Shad Balch, a spokesman for California Secretary of State Bill Jones, said October 31.

The site, (www.voteswap2000.com), was one of a number of Internet trading sites that sprang up after political pundits suggested vote swapping as a way of backing Nader without costing Gore the election.

According to the theory, Nader supporters in toss-up states sign up to vote for Gore. In exchange, their votes are "swapped" for Nader votes by people in states already solidly behind either Gore or Republican candidate George W. Bush -- helping Nader toward his goal of five percent of the popular vote, the threshold needed for the Green Party to obtain federal matching funds for the 2004 election.

Balch said Jones sent Web site managers Jim Cody and Ted Johnson a letter explaining that their swap site "is engaged in criminal activity in the state of California" through violations of state laws prohibiting the brokering of votes.

"The right to free and fair elections is a cornerstone of American democracy. Any person or entity that tries to exchange votes or brokers the exchange of votes will be pursued with the utmost vigor," Jones' letter said.

In a message on the site, Cody and Johnson said they had turned their software off to comply with Jones' order. "At the time we set the Web site up we understood that what we were doing was legal," the message said.

Launched less than a week before the letter arrived, the Los Angeles-based Web site claimed almost 5,000 traded votes. Along with their closing message, the site listed a number of other Web sites where people can go to trade their votes.

Defector says Iraq close to having nuclear bomb

Iraq has designed a crude nuclear bomb and has the equipment to build it but lacks the necessary uranium or other fissile material, a former Iraqi nuclear physicist who defected said on November 2.

"I would say (a bomb of) a few kilotons can be done in Iraq now," said Khidhir Hamza, who once headed Iraq's nuclear weapons design program. The bomb would probably be too bulky to be fired on a missile, but could be transported by an airplane and dropped on a target, he said.

"The design was considerably improved after the (1991) Gulf War," Hamza said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Right now I don't know if they have the uranium, but the design is there."

The construction of the bomb would probably take a few months and it would also have to undergo another process, called hardening, to transport it safely, said Hamza, whose book "Saddam's Bombmaker," was recently published.

A U.S. intelligence official said Iraq currently does not have the infrastructure to build a nuclear bomb. "We don't believe they have the fissile material," he added.

If Iraqi President Saddam Hussein started his own program to develop fissile material, a key ingredient for nuclear weapons like separated plutonium or highly-enriched uranium, it would take two or three years to complete, Hamza said.

"Or he can get some from abroad if he can, then he will have it immediately," Hamza said, suggesting Russia might be a potential supplier.

If Iraq built more than one nuclear weapon, Saddam would probably not keep it secret, he said. "He'll test one, declare himself a nuclear power, and get the whole region polarized in his direction," Hamza said.

Iraq initiated its nuclear weapons program in the early 1970s to be on par with Israel, and in 1974 Hamza and other Iraqi scientists went to France and purchased a nuclear reactor which was to be monitored by the French atomic energy agency.

Then Israel "made a mistake" by bombing the reactor in 1981, relieving Saddam of the monitoring, Hamza said. In 1982 Saddam started a secret nuclear program that was more ambitious and bigger than the original, he added.

Hamza said in his book that it became apparent to him during debriefings by the CIA that Iraq had persuaded U.N. inspectors that Baghdad's nuclear effort had never progressed beyond basic research, that the bomb-design center was a materials research facility and that equipment to make explosives had been destroyed.

"I informed them it (the equipment) had been removed a week before the allied (Gulf War) bombing," the book said.

The CIA appeared surprised that Iraq learned through a Hungarian connection to manufacture nuclear triggers and about the role of two German firms in supplying Iraq with equipment and components, the book said.

The book describes Hamza's escape from Baghdad in 1994 and efforts to defect to the United States which finally succeeded at the U.S. embassy in Budapest in August 1995. His one nonnegotiable demand was that in return for information his wife and children must be extracted from Iraq.

In October 1995 his oldest son was sitting in a Baghdad coffee shop when a "deranged looking man in rags" approached and started muttering as if begging but then whispered his son's name when he got close, the book says.

The son walked away and the beggar followed and when it appeared no one else was around, the beggar handed the son a letter from Hamza and told him to be in Mosul the next day.

The family was hidden by members of the Kurdish opposition until Rick Francona, an Air Force intelligence officer, and "a tall blond CIA man" arrived and got them out and on a flight to Germany, where they lived in CIA safe houses for months waiting for clearance to go to the United States, the book said.

Bush pleaded guilty to DUI charge in 1976

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge in 1976, his campaign confirmed November 2.

The incident, first reported by Fox News based on a report prepared by a local affiliate in Maine, occurred nearly 25 years ago, the official charge being "driving while under the influence of alcohol."

Bush's campaign went public with the incident after questioning by Fox News' Carl Cameron and after copies of the police report were faxed to news organizations in Maine.

"It's not something he's proud of," spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said, explaining why Bush had not come forward with the information on his own.

Bush, then 30, was vacationing at his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, during the Labor Day weekend when he was pulled over by police for driving too slowly.

Bush took questions from the press shortly after the news broke.

George W. Bush"I used to drink, I've quit drinking, I'm not gonna drink, and I haven't had a drink in fourteen years," Bush said, responding to the revelation. "I paid their fine and did my duty."

Bush also said the reason he did not reveal this incident earlier was in an effort to protect his daughters.

"I made a decision as a dad. I didn't want my girls doing the same things I did." He said his daughters did not know of this incident until he spoke with them Thursday night.

Bush paid a $150 fine and had his driving privileges revoked in the state of Maine for a short period, Tucker said. His drivers' license in Texas — where Bush lived at the time — was not revoked or suspended, she said.

Campaign officials said Bush was detained by police, though they did not know for how long, and said he posted a $500 bond. They said Bush decided to release details of the incident after it reached news outlets.

Bush questioned the timing of the revelation, saying, "I find it interesting that four or five days before the election that it's coming up."

The Gore campaign has told reporters that it will not comment on the incident.

Bush has admitted he has had problems with alcohol in the past. He was asked by The Houston Chronicle in 1996 if he had ever been arrested for drinking and driving.

Bush replied, "I do not have a perfect record as a youth."

When prodded for more detail, he said, "When I was young, I did a lot of foolish things. But I will tell you this, I urge people not to drink and drive. It's an important message for all people to hear. I don't drink, and I hope others don't drink and drive as well."

The GOP presidential nominee has said he quit drinking the day after his 40th birthday — July 6, 1986. Alcohol "was beginning to compete for my affections," he told an interviewer this September.

Calvin Bridges, identified as the arresting officer by the Bush campaign and documents made available by the Bush campaign, said in a telephone interview that he recalls driving home from work after midnight and spotting a car slipping briefly onto the shoulder before getting back on the road.

Bush, the driver, failed a road sobriety test and a second test in the police station, registering a 0.10 blood-alcohol level — the legal limit at the time, Bridges said.

Asked about Bush's demeanor, the retired officer said, "he was, and I say this without being facetious, a picture of integrity. He gave no resistance. He was very cooperative."

Bridges said Bush spent about 90 minutes in custody. He said he was contacted by two Bush aides, including spokesman Dan Bartlett, and asked if he would accept a telephone call from a reporter.

Bridges, 51, said Bush was accompanied by two women and a man. Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said they were Bush's sister, Dorothy, the Australian tennis player John Newcombe and his wife.

"I hope that a mistake the governor made 24 years ago would not have an impact in the final days of this election," Hughes said.

"He has said repeatedly he is not going to itemize the mistake that he made. He has said what's important is that every American knows it's not right to drink and drive," Tucker said.

A year before the incident, Bush had earned his Masters of Business Administration degree and returned to Texas to get into the oil business at age 29.

In the summer of 1977, he met his wife, Laura, and married her in November. A year later, he launched an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress.

[View the arrest record or the court docket (open in a new window)]

Canada's Communist party makes comeback

While being all but wiped off the political landscape in 1993, the Communist party said yesterday it will achieve registered party status by fielding 52 candidates this election.

The party lost its registered status in the 1993 election by fielding eight candidates. In 1997, it had just 13 candidates.

"It's a reflection of the fact that our party has been growing across the country, particularly in Quebec,'' party leader Miguel Figueroa, 48, said at a news conference in Ottawa where he unveiled his party's platform.

Candidates will run in nearly every province, except in Atlantic Canada where only one candidate is expected to run in Nova Scotia's Kings-Hants.
Since 1993, Elections Canada rules require parties to field at least 50 candidates to qualify for the perks afforded to registered parties, including tax breaks to contributors.

This rule forced the Communists and other fringe parties to de-register and sell off assets. But worst of all, said Figueroa, people thought the party died.

"There was a general presumption that the party no longer existed, that our tents had been folded and we disappeared,'' he said.

Figueroa, who is running in Toronto-Danforth riding, criticized all parties, especially the NDP. He said the NDP has "shifted away from traditional social-democratic positions'' and is moving further and further to the right.

This, however, has helped his party, he acknowledged.

"Because of that, the views of our party are resonating much better with a lot more people,'' he said. "Of course, we don't anticipate that we're going to elect anybody.''

Figueroa's platform includes opposing all privatization of health-care services, rolling back tuition and legislating a 32-hour work week with no loss in take-home pay.

Margaret Thatcher a hottie?

The Iron Lady may not be everybody's cup of tea, but British politicians find just the sight of Margaret Thatcher sends their hearts into a flutter.

Thatcher in September
Thatcher in September

Scientists using a monitor to test the state of a person's arousal have found greater reaction from a group of male and female MPs and peers to a picture of the former Conservative prime minister than to scantily clad models of both sexes, researchers said on November 3.

Of 25 MPs and peers from all political parties who took the test, 20 showed a greater reaction to Lady Thatcher than to a picture of the sultry blond British TV personality Denise Van Outen, the kind of thing the common man tends to go for.

The results came as a bit of a shock to the scientist who led the tests.

"I was amazed that so many MPs reacted more to Maggie Thatcher than to Denise van Outen's bare flesh," said Dr. Kathy Sykes, a senior science consultant for at-Bristol, a new science centre in southwest England.

"Most people respond to the images of scantily clad men and women, so why should MPs be any different?"

At-Bristol said it found the average person most often reacts instinctively to "overtly sexual imagery, or to natural fears such as arachnophobia."

The experiments were done in the House of Commons as part of an exhibition to raise awareness about at-Bristol, one of the country's many millennium projects.

In a news release, at-Bristol noted that the strongest response measured by their machine "need not be governed by admiration."

So some Labour MPs who reacted strongly to Thatcher's picture can live safe in the knowledge that their pulses climbed for the right political reasons.

Thatcher, now a member of the House of Lords, continues to cast a legendary shadow over British politics, even 10 years after leaving elected office. At-Bristol's findings suggest she's even managed to invade the subconscious mind of the country's political class.

Those politicians and members of the public who were tested were shown a number of pictures while they put their fingers into metal thimbles that measured the electrical resistance of their skin.

Sweating, which changes the resistance, is a tell-tale sign of arousal or stress to any one of several emotional responses, including fear, anger, lust, surprise or embarrassment. The principles are the same as those behind polygraphs or so-called lie-detector machines.

The MPs and peers were shown pictures on a computer screen, including Thatcher, van Outen, a spider, a skull, a semi-naked man and woman, a lesbian kiss, a patient's view from an operating table, hard-nosed political journalist Jeremy Paxman and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

If it's any consolation to Blair, one politician had the greatest response to him.

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