Claudia Riley never slept with Bill Clinton. I'll explain in a minute.
Clinton gave quite a talk last night following the premiere screening of his pal Harry Thomason's documentary "The Hunting of the President."
The minute the lights came up on a star-studded audience (Glenn Close, Moby, Mike Myers, Kurt Vonnegut, Salman Rushdie, Robert Altman), there was Clinton, Mr. Movie Star, taking his bows.
The movie, which opens in theaters on Friday and comes out on Fox Home Video this fall, is the "two" punch after Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Based on the book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, the film argues that complex mechanisms in the right wing of the Republican party, coinciding with the naïveté of the Arkansans who came to Washington in 1993, conspired to bury the Clintons.
Well, guess what? It didn't work. If living well is the best revenge, then the Clintons have won handily.
Beaming, Clinton gave a warmup talk last night for a book tour that indicates he will be the most popular author in the history of Borders. (Harold Evans, editor of The Week, conducted an impromptu Q&A with him.)
On John Kerry: "We've got a 50-50 chance or better to win the White House next time."
On Robert Fiske, the original special Whitewater prosecutor, whom Ken Starr succeeded: "He was too fast and too fair and he had to go."
On the former special prosecutor who the film contends was carefully placed in his job by Republican forces: "I don't wake up in the morning hating Ken Starr." And: "Ken Starr and [Hickman] Ewing were instruments of a grand design."
On appointing a Whitewater special prosecutor: "I was such a naïve fool. I thought people wanted to know the truth."
On the film: "If you like what you saw in the movie, wait till you see what I wrote in the book."
The best line in the film, though, comes from Claudia Riley, the elegant, well-spoken 74-year-old widow of Arkansas Lt. Governor Bob Riley .
A lifelong friend of Susan McDougal, whose story unexpectedly forms the heart and soul of Thomason's film, Riley compares Starr to Senator Joe McCarthy .
When the Starr team wonders why she defends Clinton to them, Riley puts in perspective what she describes as their zeal to find something, anything that will bring Clinton down.
"They said I must have had sex or an affair with him," Riley says with a warm laugh. "I told them, He never asked me."
It must be something about June 17.
In 1972, the Democratic party offices at the Watergate Hotel were broken into and life was never the same.
In 1994, 10 years ago tonight, most New Yorkers were watching the Knicks play the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the NBA finals (we won, 91-84) when our program was interrupted by coverage of O.J. Simpson, murder suspect, being driven in a white Ford Bronco by pal Al Cowlings .
The LAPD was on his case, Simpson had a gun to his head and his other friend Robert Kardashian was reading his farewell letter to the press. And life was never the same again.
I've been watching with much interest all of Simpson's interviews with the press during the anniversary celebration of the double murders of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.
Only Simpson, found responsible for the murders in an exhaustive and thorough civil trial, could mock these deaths, the loved ones of the victims and the legal system a decade later. His lack of any shame or contrition, his inability to show any grace, bereavement, or comportment after all this time has proven to be more of a conviction than any judgment that could have been levied against him by a criminal jury.
What went wrong with the criminal trial is a story that could take up volumes and will never be fully explained. (How prosecutors Marcia Clarke and Christopher Darden, who bungled the case and lost it, became celebrities who still earn an income and fame from the result is almost an equal mystery.)
In the meantime, there are four people out there who have the answers. They are Ronald and Cora Fischman , since divorced, the couple who lived next door to O.J. Simpson in Brentwood; Cathy Randa, Simpson's longtime secretary; and Cowlings, Simpson's best friend and lackey.
A fifth person, Kardashian, is, sadly, deceased, although he voiced his doubts about Simpson's innocence to author Lawrence Schiller after the civil trial.
The Fischmans remain very interesting. Cora Fischman testified in her civil court deposition that despite her so-called loyalty to Nicole, she had become friendly again with O.J. once he was released from jail.
It was no doubt in her best interest, since her husband, Ron, divorced her when he found out she was having an affair with a local grocery-store clerk — something else she had to admit in the deposition.
Ronald Fischman, as I reported back in 1995, is a nephrologist, not a chiropractor, as he is identified in Jack Walraven 's otherwise excellent Internet Simpson case files.
A long-promised defense witness in the criminal case, Fischman was never called. In his civil-case testimony, he was asked about seeing Simpson at his and Nicole's children's school recital a few hours before the murders. He was also the doctor who prescribed Xanax for Simpson, even though he was not his physician.
Fischman's specialty is kidney disease, and as such he has owned a couple of dialysis centers in Southern California. (In his civil case testimony, however, Fischman said he was a neurologist and an internist.)
Did he know more about Simpson's various personal ailments, including his claim of rheumatoid arthritis? Did he ever have conversations with O.J. about drug abuse or about the murders? Sadly, we will never know because no one bothered to ask Fischman any of these questions once he got on the stand during the civil case.
One thing is certain, though: As Simpson's confidant in domestic matters, Fischman knows more about the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman than he's ever said publicly.
In civil-case testimony, Fischman was a reluctant witness, giving little information about Simpson other than the fact that he appeared tired at the school recital in a way Fischman had not seen him before. Repeated calls to his office in the Los Angeles area have gone unreturned.
Ironically, Fischman — described by his ex-wife Cora during her own testimony as a "wealthy man" — filed for personal and business bankruptcy in 2000.
Finally, there's Cathy Randa , Simpson's loyal secretary. She was called by the police right after the murders and was a constant presence from then on.
You may remember Randa and Kardashian standing in the driveway of Simpson's home when he returned from Chicago on the morning of June 13. But Randa spoke to Simpson even before he got on the plane in Chicago, which she testified to at the preliminary hearing three weeks later on July 6.
Unfortunately, Marcia Clark and her band of incompetents only asked Randa a couple of questions that day and then dismissed her. It didn't occur to Clark that Simpson's personal assistant of more than 20 years would have any other information about Simpson's lifestyle, history, health or state of mind.
Randa, whose son chauffeured all the defense witnesses around during the criminal trial and who still works for Simpson to this day, never again — inconceivably — had to answer an official question about the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
Then, of course, there's Cowlings, who dictated the details of the Bronco ride to a freelance writer in 1994 with the hope of publishing a book. But once the story broke that Cowlings was about to spout, the book proposal disappeared.
Cowlings told the writer that Simpson had been addicted to anabolic steroids since his days playing for the Buffalo Bills. During the Bronco ride, Cowlings said, and as I reported in New York magazine, Simpson exhibited signs of steroid withdrawal: heavy sweating that gave his face almost a golden "glow."
Cowlings, who is still in Simpson's orbit, remains the missing link in the story.
Maybe one day one of these people will suffer a pang of conscience and tell the families of the victims what they know. Until then, the mystery goes unsolved.