The president’s trial gave us a bang for our buck

(U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis. – Throughout President Clinton’s impeachment trial, Democrats tried to upset the public by incessantly reminding us that the investigation cost taxpayers $40 million.

Let’s get one thing straight: $40 million is not a lot to pay for 368 days of top-notch infotainment.

If you do the math, that’s $40 million divided by our nation’s population of 258 million. My math skills, while atrophied from years of liberal arts classes, tell me that impeaching the president cost each American 16 cents.

Can you honestly say that during the one year of non-stop impeachment coverage on TV you never received 16 cents worth of entertainment? That’s one-third the cost of a newspaper. One-fifth of a load of laundry. One-half the weekly wage of a sweatshop worker. You probably have 16 cents in your couch.

In this spirit, I would like to share just a few things that were worth 16 cents to me:

Euphemisms for “semen”: TV anchors are puritans at heart and have refused to refer to the infamous stain by its proper name. In fact, the whole topic seemed to make them squeamish.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (probably half-mad from sleep deprivation and trying to remember when he last saw his children) paused each time it came up and said, “Uhh, let’s call that, uhh, DNA evidence.”

Subtle. Others used amorphous expressions like “genetic material” or “physical evidence.” I enjoyed watching respected, veteran journalists have their careers reduced to thinking of synonyms for semen.

Dueling hypocrites: I loved watching independent counsel Kenneth Starr justify putting hundreds of pages of porn (a.k.a. the Starr Report) into the public domain. Sure Ken, it was absolutely imperative to release the cigar story to the public. I’m sure he didn’t do that just to embarrass Clinton.

And how about the feminists? Hypocrites of the year. Clinton could pass a law requiring all women to wear frilly pink bows and they’d still support him. They pilloried Clarence Thomas, but if the president plays doctor with a subordinate federal employee, it’s “no big deal” (quote from National Organization for Women head Patricia Ireland).

“No big deal” must be a groovy new name for what they used to call “sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Stiff politicians playing to the cameras: How about Justice William Rehnquist and those super neat-o stripes on his robe?

Or Sen. Strom Thurmond’s one-liners? And take my word on this one – Rep. Henry Hyde’s hair got progressively more lustrous over the course of the trial.

But my personal favorite has to be the Democrats’ symbolic walk-out protest during the House impeachment vote. Talk about a baby-boomer flashback to 1968. All they were missing was a chant (“Hey hey, ho ho, Kenneth Starr has got to go”), pot and a Joan Baez album.

Flynt and Falwell, sex cops!: Taking a break from poisoning our culture, Larry Flynt dedicated himself to investigating every representative’s sex life. He’s a decrepit pornographer, not a political analyst. Yet one journalist after another asked him grave questions with stone-faced seriousness.

And Jerry Falwell certainly had a lot of excuses as to why Henry Hyde’s and Bob Livingston’s sexual affairs were “different” from Clinton’s. That’s odd. I thought he was opposed to any and all sexual encounters from which children were not begotten.

Overall, the impeachment was better than any movie made last year. Titanic cost $200 million and it was cheesy, only three hours long and inoffensive (although the Rubenesque similarity between Monica and Kate Winslet is striking – too striking to be a coincidence).

Furthermore, as much as everyone’s glad it’s over, the trial’s end has left a void in the news. Look at what’s “news” now: Tinky-Winky is gay and some unidentifiable Third World cesspool is being bombed. Please.

Yes, $40 million is a ton of money to us, but not to a government that buys $65,000 worth of screwdrivers. We all paid our fair share, and given the quality and quantity of entertainment I got, I’d say that it was the best money I ever spent.

-Ed Burmila is a student at the University of Wisconsin.

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