I was in a delicatessen yesterday ordering a sandwich for lunch. The guy in line in front of me was complaining to the clerk at the counter about Bill Clinton. The two discussed the hearings of Fred Thompson’s Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and a nearly intelligible representation of what’s been happening for the last few days emerged from the conversation.

Now, we’re getting somewhere. Finally, it seems, the Senate hearings into campaign fund-raising abuses that literally sold out this country are producing something understandable to the American people. It’s sinking in.

But I don’t believe you can ever drive home the point too clearly — especially when the rest of the media are trying their hardest to obscure the real issues. Repetition is the key to clarity. So here, for those still trying to figure out the significance of these hearings, is what’s important to know so far.

John Huang once worked for the Lippo Group, an Indonesian company at least half-owned by the Chinese government and with extraordinarily strong ties to Beijing. He was paid about $325,000 a year. After Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, he urged that Huang be hired as deputy assistant secretary of the Commerce Department. Though his boss at Commerce has testified that Huang was “totally unqualified” for the job, he was hired anyway. But no one at Lippo thought he was unqualified. In fact, before Huang started at Commerce, his former employer gave him a bonus check for $450,000.

Though his boss at Commerce warned that Huang should be “walled off” from any dealing with China or even Asia, such action was never taken and Huang had free rein to do pretty much what he wanted during his stint in government service.

Sometimes two or three times a week while at Commerce, Huang crossed the street to make phone calls and pick up faxes at an investment firm with strong ties to his former Indonesian employer, according to a former secretary at Stephens Inc. Hmmmm. Makes you wonder what was in some of those faxes, doesn’t it? Even Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut concluded, “These visits I find very curious.”

At the same time, Huang, though not having a security clearance, was given classified CIA intelligence briefings on the subject of China. And during the 18 months he spent at Commerce, Huang placed more than 400 telephone calls to Lippo and its business representatives. He also made frequent visits to the Chinese Embassy.

None of that activity, however, raised any suspicion about Huang. In fact, it was Bill Clinton himself again who recommended he be given a top job as a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee prior to the 1996 election. No wonder. It now appears Huang had already illegally raised more than $100,000 for the party while still at Commerce.

While at the DNC, Huang continued his contacts with Lippo and the Chinese government. He also raised $1.6 million for the party, much of it apparently from illegal, foreign sources.

Now, if I was Bill Clinton, and I didn’t know what was going on between Lippo, the Chinese and John Huang, I’d be sputtering mad. I would urge Huang to come clean and tell all he knows about his activities during those days. I’d want to clear the air and prove that I was not involved or aware of China’s attempts to buy influence in American politics. I would certainly want to find out who was responsible for all these “mistakes.” Why, I might even consider offering him total immunity from prosecution, just so we could get to the truth of the matter.

Instead, Clinton and most of the Democrats are still pretending that nothing happened — that no laws were broken and that the nation’s interests were not compromised. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Even though most of the media elite don’t get it, yet, the guys in the delicatessen do. And that’s good news.

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