Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Mike's Letter

December 18th, 1998 12:00 AM

Mike's Dinner at the White House

Dear Friends,

I met Bill Clinton outside a Port-O-John last night and told him what he needed to do.

Earlier in the week, I had received a call from the network chief at Britain's Channel Four Television (the producer of our upcoming show, "The Awful Truth") asking me what my plans were for last evening.

I replied, "The usual. 'Wheel of Fortune' at 7, 'Jeopardy' at 7:30. Pop down to Lincoln Center to catch an hour or so of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" then rush back for 'Diagnosis: Murder' at 9…

"How would you like to have dinner at the White House?"

"Which house?"

"The White House."

"Uh, sure."

"It's to honor the Special Olympics," he said, "but I sense there may be other things going on in the White House. Do you think I can get security clearance for you?"

"Uh, well, I was just there at the White House gate last week filming a piece for the show. They called out an FBI swat team in flak jackets. I'm sure there'll be no problem."

And so it was that I found myself in the receiving line to meet Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"You're from the working class," I blurted out as I shook Clinton's hand. I noticed that his makeup seemed as thick as Richard Nixon's when I saw him parading down the main street of Bad Axe, Michigan, one week before his resignation.

"That's right, I am," he replied.

"You should never forget that."

"I don't forget it."

"You must not resign. You must beat the Right Wing."

"I intend to."

"And this bombing thing, bad idea."

"I have been a big fan of yours, Mike, since the beginning."

At this point, Hillary interrupted.

"Well, I'm a bigger fan!"

Great. Now they're squabbling. Trying to save the moment I glance over to Bill then say to Hillary, "Well. I'm a bigger fan than…"

She grabbed my hand and forearm.

"I read what you wrote about me," she said, referring to the chapter in my book entitled 'My Forbidden Love for Hillary'. I just wanted to thank you for those words."

Those words? Hmm. You mean where I said you were "one hot, s***kickin' feminist babe"?

An aide came to move me along, but Hillary waved her away.

We chatted a few more moments about our daughters, the need for them to see the lessons in this whole mess, and I told Hillary to run for office.

We did the arm to arm embrace again and I walked away.

At the dinner, they had seated Hillary's chief of staff next to us. I gave her an earful of what I thought the Clintons need to do. She gave me the First Lady's address and number.

The dinner itself tasted like the "Thursday Surprise" from my high school cafeteria lunch menu. Before long, I felt a need to relieve myself.

Because we were in a tent on the White House lawn, they had set up two Port-O-Johns (the high end "Executive" model) for the guests. One was locked, so I used the other.

As I came out, President Clinton came out of the other Port-O-John. Alone. No Secret Service. I shook his hand again.

"I meant what I said, Mr. President. Do not give up. I have not always agreed with you but this is bigger than you. The majority of this country does not agree with what is happening."

Now, unlike his smiling demeanor in the receiving line, he looked down and quietly said "we're gonna be okay."

It was not convincing.

"Look," I said, like the presumptuous doofus I often am. "I would love to send you a letter outlining how I think you can defeat these right wingers."

Jeez, I felt like such a jerk. Like he can't wait to read my "bullet points".

He called over to a man standing nearby.

"Doug, come here, meet Mike. He's got a few ideas for us. Doug's my political director."

I told him I'd drop him a line, and as I sit here this morning in my D.C. hotel room, watching the coup in Congress live before my eyes, I wrote this appeal to the President of the United States:

Go on TV tonight with Hillary. Let her speak first. Let her tell the country about the pain you have put her through. She should tell the country of her decision to forgive you and try to save the marriage.

Explain that, unlike the "Christian" Republicans Bob Barr (married three times didn't pay child support), Newt Gingrich (sued his first wife for divorce the day after her cancer operation), etc. etc., you have decided that it is important to keep your family together.

I watched the two of you at close range last night for nearly five hours. I trust my radar and instincts, and I was struck by how much the two of you actually like each other and how affectionate you are.

The cynical press did not show that side of you on the news this morning. It doesn't fit their "script". But I saw it. And I think you should go on television together and let the nation see it. One big, long, deep kiss would do all of us a hell of a lot of good.

Then, Bill, you have to say you lied. You have to say you wanted to save your marriage and your family and you thought lying would do it. You must tell the country what it already knows– you did not lie to break the law or perjure yourself– you lied because they set a trap for you and your first thought when they threw you the out-of-the-blue question about Monica was, "Oh my God, my marriage. Lie!"

Then I want you to say that you'd do it again. That's right. Say boldly that if anyone ever tries to pry into your personal life and destroy your marriage you will do anything to save it.

Remind us how we all lie. I lied yesterday flying to DC when the ticket agent asked me if my "bags have been with me at all times since I left the house." I said yes. I think it's a federal crime to lie when asked that question. Who among us has not told that lie or one similar?

Bill, all lies aren't the same, just as all crimes aren't the same. We do treat a parking ticket different than a murder. Use my golf analogy. Ask the Republicans would they throw you out of office if, under oath, you had lied about your golf score? That would be perjury, right? And if what they say is true–that all perjury is the same– then would they overturn a national election for the first time in our history because you committed perjury when, under oath, you said you shot a 68?

Last night, word spread during the appetizer course that the new Speaker, Bob Livingston, had admitted to having "multiple affairs" during his 33 year marriage. You probably noticed everyone licking their chops along with the pheasant cakes at this news.

Go on TV and call an end to this madness. Announce that the Witch Hunt is over. Pat Robertson and Ken Starr were elected by NO ONE – you were. Tell the nation that Bob Livingston's sex life and marriage contract is none of anyone's business. Say you will tolerate no more of this, it's over, and you're going to get busy ensuring universal health care, preparing the country for the inevitable economic collapse, and spending more time with your wife.

If the wingnuts attempt to interrupt you with cries of "But, the difference is, Livingston didn't lie under oath!" tell them that one's marriage oath is far greater than any oath taken in a politically-motivated civil suit. One oath is taken in front of a sleazebag lawyer; the other is taken before God and the spouse you have promised to love for the rest of your life. If the Republicans can't figure out the difference, then f*** 'em.

Finally, Bill, stop the bombing. The reason you were originally the target of the reactionaries is because you refused to go and kill Vietnamese. Remember? But you got elected and you spent a lot of time bringing peace to Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Now you have blood on your hands. In the name of all of us who have worked for peace since those Vietnam days, stop this nonsense now. Iraq was George Bush's war to restore a dictatorship in Kuwait and protect the interests of the oil companies. You have no business being part of this.

At the end of the dinner, you and Hillary took the stage with the young people who are Special Olympians and, with Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, Run DMC, Vanessa Williams, and Jon Bon Jovi, you all joined in singing Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I cracked a smile as you sang the line about Santa checking his list "to find out who's been naughty or nice." Then, looking at the array of all of you on the stage– black, white, men, women, an ex-heroin user, an ex-Miss America-turned-Penthouse-scandal-centerfold, I thought that's our mosaic, this whacky country of ours. Sinners all, hoping for redemption, living life through its scars and triumphs, no one able to cast the first stone.

Last summer, Linda Tripp looked into the camera and told America "I am you." No, she isn't us. We are basically a decent and honest group of people. You and your motley crew on the stage are us. Flawed human beings who constantly make mistakes, then try to make things right.


I grabbed Orrin Hatch by the arm on the way out and told him, "You had better do the right thing." He stopped and stared at me.

I repeated myself, "I said, you had better respect the will of the American people. You didn't vote for him, I didn't vote for him, but the majority of those who voted did. Do not disrespect that."

"Ok," he said, confused, as his wife dragged him away.

On the way out, I spotted the White House screening room and asked my friend from Channel Four to snap a picture on my Instamatic of me slouching in Clinton's big overstuffed chair pretending to watch the latest Barbra Streisand film. The Secret Service smiled, then threw us out.

It was a weird night.


Michael Moore

P.S. Call your Democratic Congressman now and tell him the American people want him and every single Democrat to get up and walk out en masse. They should refuse to sit there and participate in this Kangaroo Court. Boycott this impeachment vote now! The Republicans can only get away with this by making it look "legitimate". It can't look legitimate if the place is half-empty and the vote is 218 to 0 with 205 abstentions. Get up and leave now! (202) 224-3121.

Me sneaking into the White House screening room to catch a late night flick-- before being thrown out.

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