It was the worst of times; it was the worst of times. This was the first year in our history that federal philandering, lying, and warmongering business as usual were taken to such new heights (or depths) that the whole nation felt the need to shower after every newscast. Here, then, six stories that caused the great soap-and-water shortage of '98.
1. Clinton trysts the night away and we all get screwed. Nineteen ninety-eight marked the first year in, oh, all of American history that everybody in the world got to know firsthand a president's sexual preferences (everything). We also came to know that the First Sexual Predator is actually capable of doing two things at once: getting oral sex and speaking with legislators on the phone. What do you expect? We elected a guy whose girlfriend posed nude for Penthouse, a man whose biggest accomplishment before becoming the most powerful human on the planet was bringing Wal-Mart to Arkansas. The only ones shocked by his impeachment were Bill and Hill. Hey if she didn't care who he fooled around with, why should anyone else?
2. Clinton takes out his weapon of mass destruction. Again. Luckily, there were only five times in the nearly 2200 days of his administration that President Clinton needed to bomb other countries. The two most recent ones were the day Monica Lewinsky testified (he bombed Afghanistan and Sudan, accidentally hitting Pakistan in the process), and the eve of his impeachment. When he bombed Iraq, he said it was because Saddam violated the U.N. agreement by not allowing U.N. inspectors into presidential palaces to search for weapons of mass destruction. So in response to a violation of a U.N. agreement, the president violated a U.N. agreement (and the Constitution, by not advising Congress). In the Sudan Clinton took out a pharmaceuticals factory and a tent; in Iraq he hit parts of Baghdad as well as 25 Iraqis. Well, it's not like they were Christians or Jews or anything.
3. Hill stands by Bill. It was bad enough for the first lady to turn herself into the first fool by declaring that her husband's penchant for extracurricular oral sex in the White House was just a right-wing conspiracy. But to ask everyone to forgive and forget during the holidays was going too far. She even had the nerve to mention that the country needed a healing during Christmas, Hanukkah, and Ramadan while her husband was bombing Muslims. Hill! Throw the bum out! You've nearly got the majority votes now to do it. And please, while you're at it, have some shame there's a whole world of girls out there, including Chelsea, who now think it's OK for a woman to let her mate treat her like dogmeat.
4. Livingston fools around. The nation was rocked, the citizens were shocked that House Speaker Bob Livingston admitted to extramarital sex. Me? I was more shocked that he ever even had marital sex. Look at the guy. Who did he fool around with? Margaret Thatcher?
5. Rudy's rules of order. If the president flouted the Constitution by bombing Iraq, the mayor never believed the Constitution was a valid document in the first place. He makes the list by creating news all year with his dictates: Don't drive a cab, don't sell a hot dog, don't cross the street, don't sell art, don't protest, don't protest at City Hall for sure, don't drive over 30 miles an hour, don't celebrate the winter solstice, don't, don't, don't. OK, we won't. The only "do" in his repertoire: Do move the Yanks to Manhattan.
6. The pop-up pill. Viagra hit the stores, and just when you thought it was safe to get back to sleep, there was old Walter, all hopped-up and sporting an ascot. Think about this: The president, apparently the only man in the U.S. who doesn't need Viagra, caused national chaos. Former presidential candidate Bob Dole, on the other hand, is so, er, hard up for the stuff that he's the new Viagra spokesman. Why do I need all this information about old groins? Penis envy? Right.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.