The Bunny Queen was mad. Here she’d been as faithful as
lagomorphically possible to her divine master during the whole Wen Ho
Lee affair, and she said she was entirely comfortable with the
government’s handling of it.
Of course the Bunny Queen “wished with all her heart and soul” that
Mr. Lee had provided investigators with information about the missing
computer tapes containing nuclear secrets. “But I think Dr. Lee had the
opportunity to answer this from the beginning and I think now he needs
to look to himself,” harrumphed the Bunny Queen, out of impatience at
such an ignoble attempt to solicit an apology from the U.S. government.
The Bunny Queen (a character from a favorite book of Janet Reno’s
from which she draws moral courage when she is low, and whose
terminology I have adopted) said wistfully that federal prosecutors “had
tried from the beginning” to learn what the heck Lee had done with the
tapes — which he acknowledged he’d transferred from a highly secure Los
Alamos nuclear weapons lab.
“There was no explanation,” the Bunny Queen said, grieving, “of what
the man did with information that was so sensitive.” He could have
avoided jail time completely, she said, had he cooperated good-heartedly
in assuring that the tapes had not fallen into unfriendly hands.
But he has claimed all along that he destroyed the tapes, and the
Queen’s bunny fur almost shriveled when Sen. Gramm took to the Senate
floor to call on her to resign “if she had any honor or shame!” Sen.
Gramm didn’t think the Bunny Queen had any authority to keep Mr. Lee in
prison for all those months when he was prepared to sign the agreement
he signed last week. And to leave the light on in his prison cell all
night every night.
The four books Janet Reno keeps on her coffee table are: Doris Kearns
Goodwin’s book about the Roosevelts, plus biographies of Washington,
Lincoln, and Truman — to remind her, when she pages through them in
times of stress, of what each president was called upon to do for his
country. And of course I should not forget a trilogy of books whose
collective title is “Voyage to the Bunny Planet,” a work of deep
philosophical significance. “I read these when things go wrong,” Miss
The book she favors over the others in the trilogy is called “The
Island of Light.” It’s not about an American president, but about a
bunny in a yellow raincoat. The bunny’s name is Felix, and he had a bad
day. He got sick at school and his mother and father forgot to kiss him
The story is apparently about strength in adversity. Press on! Just
because your mother doesn’t kiss you goodnight, don’t quit! Half way
through the book’s 22 pages is a double- page spread in which Felix, in
striped pajamas, is held in the embrace of a very large female bunny
rabbit wearing a crown and a purple cloak, who carries him away into the
twinkling night of space.
There is a poem:
- Far beyond the moon and stars
Twenty light years south of Mars,
Spins the gentle Bunny Planet
And the Bunny Queen is Janet.
Before he began working at the Justice Department, eight
attorneys general back, Oz Hicks had never seen an attorney general
endure as much pressure as Janet Reno. Or so he told Tom Junod for an
article in the current Esquire. He has never worked for someone like
Miss Reno, says Mr. Hicks, so “personable,” so “down to earth,” in
addition to which she is the most famous person in Washington after
President Clinton. Sometimes, when he sees her getting ready to go “up
the hill” to the capital for a day’s work, he goes right up to her and
tells her that she won’t be alone up there today, that God will be by
Over the years, Mr. Hicks, officially a messenger at the Justice
Department, has had to pray for Miss Reno many times, as she goes from
one crisis to another. He prayed for her in the beginning, after her
decision to authorize force at Waco resulted in the death of 80 people.
He prayed for her when her authorization of the seizure of Elian
Gonzalez caused rioting in Miami. He prayed for her when she made Monica
Lewinsky part of the ongoing investigation of her boss, President
Clinton. He prayed for her when she decided not to appoint an
independent counsel. He prayed for her when she accused the FBI of
withholding crucial information during the Waco investigation. He prayed
for her when he learned that her trembling hand was caused by
Parkinson’s disease. And he prayed for her with particular intensity
when he heard the President wanted her out. But of all the things Oz has
seen Miss Reno go through, he feels that it is Bill Clinton himself who
has caused her the most grief.
Sometimes Oz would even hear Miss Reno sing a song in her tuneless
voice. It was always the same. “It’s a pretty song, too,” he said:
- Steal away home. I ain’t got long to stay here. Steal away back
Sometimes, when Miss Reno sang, you could understand why her
mother paid her not to sing. But she also sang snatches in a soft voice
to herself in a calypso rhythm, “Janet Reno gonna getcha, gonna getcha.
When Janet Reno sings in her tuneless voice, mind you, she is singing
in her mind for the disabled, the aged, Indians, newly sworn citizens,
and for old Communists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, who have lost
their way. She is singing for the members of the New Hope Baptist
Church, one of the places where Janet Reno goes on the Saturday nights
when people wonder where Janet Reno goes on Saturday nights.
“Lied to!” cries a revivalist preacher at the front of the
congregation. “Cheated! Talked about! Mistreated! But I don’t need my
mother! My father! My sister! My brother! My doctor! My lawyer! All I
need is Jesus!”
At the end of all the affirmations and singing a woman preacher
stands up and issues an invitation to the congregation to be born again,
right there. But Janet Reno doesn’t budge. After all the commotion one
feels that in her heart Janet Reno doesn’t need to be born again. The
deed has already been done.