When the calls and e-mails began pouring in about Paula Jones posing
nude for Penthouse, this reporter dismissed them. Those rumors had been
around for months. This poor woman has had her named dragged through
the mud time and time again since 1994 because of an unwelcome and
embarrassing encounter with the man who is now President of the United
States.

Paula Jones did not set out to embarrass the president. She wanted
to forget the incident and put it behind her. However, in early 1993
and early 1994, she was singled out by Danny Ferguson, one of the
Arkansas state troopers who was assigned to guard Clinton when he was
governor. In relating the story of Mr. Clinton’s conquests to the Los
Angeles Times and the American Spectator, Ferguson identified (then)
Paula Corbin as someone who was flattered by Clinton’s attention and a
willing participant in one of his sexual escapades. On the afternoon of
May 8, 1991, Clinton is reported to have spotted Jones, a state
employee, working a convention desk at the Excelsior Hotel in Little
Rock, Ark., and asked Ferguson to bring her up to his suite. It was
there he allegedly exposed himself and asked her for a particular kind
of sex.

When the story first broke, it sounded bizarre and far-fetched. That
was before the nation was shocked by allegations from Juanita
Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Kathleen Willey and Monica
Lewinsky. In fact, if it had not been for Jones’ courage, we might
never have known about a Clinton character flaw so deep it may have led
to criminal behavior, but most certainly should have disqualified him
from holding the highest office in the land.

Bill Clinton had a lot to lose from the revelations of his close
encounter with Jones, but so did Jones. At the time of the incident,
she was engaged to Steve Jones. By the time the story made its way into
the media, they were married and had a son. Before her lawsuit was
settled, another child was born. At some point in time, her sons would
hear about their mother and the president of the United States and she
wanted to set the record straight. It was important to her, but would
be even more important for them.

Jones demanded an apology from Clinton. When this request was
ignored, a lawsuit was filed to obtain one. She also asked for $700,000
in cash, which was an estimate of what it would cost to pay her legal
fees and related expenses. She even promised to donate any left over
money to charity.

When Paula refused to remain quiet and allow herself to be branded a
Clinton bimbo, James Carville, the president’s devilish campaign
strategist, dismissed her as “trailer park trash.” She was called many
other unflattering names and was made the brunt of jokes on late night
TV.

Through it all she held her head high. She routinely turned down
requests for interviews and personal appearances, maintaining her
silence and fighting for privacy for herself and her family. It wasn’t
easy. When I first met Paula in 1994 my heart went out to her. The
Joneses had moved to California just before the story broke, so Steve,
an airline ticket agent, could pursue an acting career. The media
immediately camped out in front of their Long Beach apartment, making
Paula a virtual prisoner.

The feminists had rallied around Anita Hill, whose accusations
against Clarence Thomas nearly derailed his Supreme Court appointment,
but they shunned Paula Jones. She apparently was not bright enough or
polished enough to suit them. Furthermore, her accusations were against
a president whom they considered a champion of women’s rights.

I editorialized on Jones’ behalf. At one point, I arranged for a
friend to handle the media for her at a hastily arranged West Coast
press conference. I baby sat that day, but could do little more with
the time constraints of my daily radio show. That’s when I asked
another friend, Susan Carpenter-McMillan, to help her. Susie considers
herself a feminist. For many years she fought for women’s rights,
without buying into women’s wrongs. She long has been a champion of the
underdog. Also, as a former spokesman for the Southern California Right
to Life League and a political commentator for KABC-TV, she was media
savvy.

These two women, from opposite sides of the tracks, couldn’t have
been more different, and yet had so much in common. Susie survived an
early childhood molestation and has been a fighter ever sense. She was
drawn to Paula from the start. Even though she lived more than an
hour’s drive from Long Beach, she was there whenever Paula felt
threatened. She bought her clothes and food, gave her make-up tips,
arranged for baby sitters and took her on outings away from her Long
Beach prison, and, more importantly, helped fend off the media.

However, Susie could not bear to see her friend constantly run down
by the media. One day, when she could stand it no longer, she called up
Jones’ (then) lawyers, Joseph Cammarata and Gilbert Davis, and said,
“Like it or not, I’m going out and defend her in the court of public
opinion.” For years, Susie had been a fixture on Los Angeles
television. It wasn’t long before she became a fixture on national
television. It didn’t matter who she was up against; she matched sound
bites with the best of the best.

Those who say Susie was after publicity for herself don’t know her.
Once Susie accepts a job, she will get it done or die trying. Slowly
but surely Susie was able to get the truth out about Paula, and slowly,
ever so slowly, the tide of public opinion began to change.

Nevertheless, the ordeal took its toll. To make matters worse, Steve
Jones was fired from his job with Northwest airlines and the family was
the subject of an IRS investigation. Both may have been politically
motivated. The various attorneys who represented Jones’ case began to
fight with each other over who would get how much of any eventual
settlement and with the Joneses over her legal defense fund. The latter
still has not been resolved, leaving them exposed to still more
lawsuits.

While Clinton was living off the taxpayers and had the best of
everything, Paula and Steve were having a hard time making ends meet and
keeping food on the table. The years of depravation and being cooped-up
in a one bedroom apartment with their two children, while constantly
stalked by the media, finally became too much to bear.

Paula, who had steadfastly refused to settle for anything less than
an apology, finally agreed to take a cash offer, similar to one she had
turned down two years earlier. However, by that time the relationship
she had with her husband had been damaged.

When she left California and moved back to Arkansas with her two
small boys, she was a winner in the court of public opinion. No one
doubted her story anymore, but after the attorneys were paid and the IRS
satisfied, there was very little money left. Though she had steadfastly
maintained that her case was not about money, she needed money now.
There was barely enough for a down payment on a house in her old
hometown of Cabot, Ark. With a $149,000 mortgage to pay and few skills,
the days were hard.

There was a time when she turned down a single TV appearance that
would have paid for her house. No one was interested in paying for her
to appear now, nor was there any real interest in a book or movie about
her experiences. All had been told, or at least more of it than most
people were willing to hear. Mr. Clinton will finish his term of
office, thanks to the timidity of the Republican-led Congress and the
lack of moral accountability among members of his own party. The
country is tired of scandal and anxious to move on. The only offers
that were large enough to help her out of her present financial
difficulty were coming from the porn magazines.

Paula was disillusioned. She felt betrayed by her husband, by some
of her lawyers, by her country and those she felt profited by her story
when she did not. Her story, as written for the December issue of
Penthouse by Joe Conason, says, “she was manipulated by Bill Clinton’s
conservative enemies in their unrelenting effort to ruin him — and was
then abruptly left to fend for herself when she no longer served their
purposes.”

Who were these “conservative enemies” of Clinton who manipulated
her? Conason says, “she felt ‘used’ by such famed Clinton antagonists
as Larry Nichols, Cliff Jackson and Pat Matrisciana, the last of whom
featured an interview with her and her husband, Steve, in Matrisciana’s
scurrilous anti-Clinton videotape, Circle of Power.” Oddly
enough, these are the very same people Conason went after in his book
with Gene Lyons, “The Hunting of the President.” The Conason piece for
Penthouse is little more than a diatribe against anyone he considers to
have hurt his hero, Bill Clinton, a president he and Lyons have all but
canonized in their writings.

Did Matrisciana use Jones? At this point the filmmaker from Hemet,
Calif., has been all but bankrupted by some of Clinton’s friends. He
also has to be feeling a little used and abused. Matrisciana told me
that he offered to pay Paula and Steve for their interview, but they
didn’t want any money. He knew they were having a hard time and later
gave them a couple of thousand dollars. He also freely shared his
sources with her attorneys and testified on her behalf in his deposition
for her trial.

Another person who could be feeling betrayed is Carpenter-McMillan,
who confirmed that she talked Jones out of the idea of posing for
Penthouse on more than one occasion over the last year. A few months
ago, Jones went on the Fox News Channel’s “Hannity and Colmes” to put
down the rumor and said she would “never, ever pose nude.” During their
last conversation together, Carpenter-McMillan urged Jones, “Sell your
story to them, if you must, but don’t do the photo shoot.”

Carpenter-McMillan is now in the midst of another battle, this one
for a seat in the California Assembly in a district that often overlaps
the one Jim Rogan represents in Congress. After the role he played as a
manager for the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in the
Clinton impeachment trial, Rogan is regarded as “Public Enemy No. 1” by
Clinton’s defenders. However, if Rogan is Public Enemy No. 1,
Carpenter-McMillan has to be considered No. 2.

This is not Carperter-McMillan’s first foray into California
politics, although it is her first run for an elected office. She has
worked tirelessly to get stiffer penalties for child molesters and sex
offenders and largely is responsible for passage of the state’s chemical
castration bill, the first of its kind in the nation. If
Carpenter-McMillan wins her 44th Assembly district seat, the Republican
establishment in Sacramento will be there to welcome her with open
arms. However, they know that she will fight for what she believes to
be right, even if, at times, it means going it alone, against her own
party.

When Carpenter-McMillan first heard that Paula would be baring it all
for the December issue of Penthouse, she didn’t believe it either. She
naively called Jones’ home in Cabot and left this message: “The rumor
mongers are out there again!” Jones had one of her friends call
Carpenter-McMillan to confirm the truth.

Although reluctant to say anything negative about Jones,
Carpenter-McMillan also must be feeling a little used and abused.
After giving up four years of her life to protect Jones’ reputation,
Jones just gave it (or sold it) away. Not only that, the magazine hits
the newsstand just before the election. If Carpenter-McMillan should
lose, the enemies she fought on Jones’ behalf will have the last laugh.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.