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There are all kinds of scenarios emerging under which President
Clinton will leave office.

Impeachment is one possibility. Resignation another. Paul Weyrich, of
Free Congress Foundation, has floated the idea that Clinton might even
step down temporarily under the provisions of the 25th Amendment,
permitting Vice President Al Gore to serve as an interim acting
president while Clinton seeks treatment for his sex addiction or other
psychological problems, then re-emerges as president after “successful”
therapy.

Most of our attention thus far has been focused on getting rid of
Clinton — certainly a worthy objective. But there’s more to consider.
Clinton not only needs to be removed, permanently and with no strings
attached, from the office of the presidency, he also needs to be
punished for his crimes against the people and the Constitution of the
United States.

No pardon is acceptable. Clearly, that’s why the 25th Amendment is
now getting close scrutiny at the White House. Clinton and the
ultra-lawyers he surrounds himself with want a painless exit. He wants
to do what he has done his entire life — escape the consequences of his
actions, make a clean getaway, commit the perfect crime.

Invoking the 25th Amendment could provide the escape hatch they’re
looking for. By getting out of the kitchen while the heat is on, Clinton
could actually evoke sympathy, once again, from the
fool-some-of-the-people-some-of-the-time segment of the population. He
would simply admit that he has a problem and take some steps to deal
with it. No apology would be necessary, just an admission that he’s,
well, human.

Meanwhile, Gore could be counted on to fill in for a few months,
establishing better credentials for his own presidential campaign in
2000. After Clinton is miraculously “healed” of his illness, he could
step back in as president to pardon all his many accomplices in the
biggest political shakedown in American history. Gore’s hands would be
“clean,” so to speak. He wouldn’t be forced to pay the price at the
polls that Gerald Ford did for pardoning Richard Nixon.

Hmmmmm. The 25th Amendment, huh? Dust off the old Constitution. It’s
been awhile since anyone in the Clinton administration bothered to look
at it, except, perhaps, when they’ve used it as a doormat or as toilet
paper. This scenario could happen. It’s rather ingenious. Stranger
things have happened in this administration. You can be sure it’s
already been considered. These guys work every conceivable angle.

So it’s time for the rest of us to ensure that Clinton doesn’t get
away without being held accountable for his crimes, his lies and his
stonewalling.

Only one member of Congress, so far, has had the foresight to suggest
an approach that should be obvious to all. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria,
proposes that Clinton bear at least part of the $40 million-plus
pricetag of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation.

Remember how all those administration apologists were telling us a
few months ago that this probe had cost too much. Clinton even mentioned
it in his pseudo-apology. “It has cost too much, hurt too many people,”
he said.

Well, for once, he’s right. It has cost too damn much. And a big part
of the reason is that for seven months after his perjured deposition in
the Paula Jones case, Clinton continued to run up the taxpayer tab by
lying and stalling. Even before that, Clinton’s army of attorneys left
no stone unturned in their effort to outlast Starr, to out-perform him
politically, to embarrass him and to thwart and delay his investigation.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-GA, was forced to cough up $300,000 as
a penalty in the ethics probe against him. Why shouldn’t the president
be held to the same standard?

If Congress isn’t ready to begin impeachment proceedings until it
receives the Starr report, why not begin right now calculating how much
taxpayer money Clinton has squandered through his pattern of public
deceit?

Clinton once told the American people he could “feel our pain.” But
it’s difficult to believe anything this president says. So let’s make
sure he feels our pain — and makes amends for inflicting so much of it
on us.

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