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Hannity

The Truth About Clinton's 'My Life'

This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", June 21, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Clinton mania is sweeping the country. People will begin lining up to buy the former president's memoirs when it hits the shelves at booksellers' tonight but does President Clinton give us the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

With us now, former White House special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny Davis, and also, former California Republican Congressman and author of the upcoming book "Rough Edges," Jim Rogan. Good to have you both with us.

Congressman, let me begin with you. Did you see him on TV last night? Did you watch it and did you get a sense of his explanations and accept them for some of his personal failings? Because I thought he was pretty candid about it.

What was your reaction?

JAMES ROGAN (R), FORMER CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN: I did see most of the program. I saw most of it. I thought he did a very good job. I hate to admit it, but it's kind of like the liberals all missed Nixon when he was left. I almost found this pang in my heart for the...

COLMES: Miss the good old days.

ROGAN: I knew Lanny would like that.

COLMES: Lanny, you?

ROGAN: I was just going to say, although I obviously don't agree with some of his conclusions, especially as they relate to impeachment, I'm looking forward to his book coming out.

I think he's lived an absolutely fascinating life. The idea that he came from the deprived and disadvantaged background that he did and made it to the White House I think is a fascinating story.

COLMES: Hey, Congressman, I'm sure you watched that and you felt so bad for being an impeachment manager, right? It hurt you so much when you saw the pain the man went through, right?

ROGAN: It -- I guess it flashed through my mind for a nanosecond.

COLMES: Lanny, you saw it. What did you -- what do you think? Have you seen the book and have you...

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON: I saw the program and I've read parts of, at least excerpts of the book.

But first of all, I want to ruin Jim Rogan's relationship with Republican friends by saying that he's really a very good man, entirely wrong, but really...

COLMES: That's going to hurt him if he runs for reelection, if he has that endorsement.

DAVIS: And I think missed by his colleagues and the representatives in the House.

COLMES: What's your reaction to all of this talk about the book and what he said about it?

DAVIS: Look, Bill Clinton was a very good president, and history may even be judged a great president for what he accomplished as president in the eight years that you as president.

Unfortunately, the focus right now in the book, as well as generally, is on what happened with Monica Lewinsky.

COLMES: Right.

DAVIS: I think it's sad that we're not focusing, for example, Mr. Rather spent so much time on Monica, rather than telling the American people what happened at Camp David, why Arafat turned down the deal that Bill Clinton crafted.

COLMES: Right.

DAVIS: There's so much in this presidency that we're missing. But we're going to get through this time period and then talk about the rest of the book.

COLMES: You've got to admit, initially that's what people want to most know about rather than public policy or foreign policy. That's what people initially are going to focus on.

DAVIS: Look, I'm a realist, that that's what people are focusing on. But Bill Clinton's presidency and his life, as Jim pointed out, is an interesting one. His candor in admitting to his errors, both moral as well as political.

I'm looking forward to reading the book, and very candid assessment and an interesting life and a really, a very good president.

COLMES: Jim Rogan, do you think if you had not been an impeachment manager, would you have been reelected, had that -- had you not gone through that and been controversial in that way, about Bill Clinton?

ROGAN: Well, I'm sure I would have been. In fact, I kept winning elections by the skin of my teeth in that it was a very liberal Democratic district but people liked me. They weren't mad at me. Impeachment made them mad.

Two weeks after my reelection, Alan, we took a poll and it was right around the time the House Judiciary Commission hearings were beginning. And the polls said if you vote to impeached Bill Clinton 75 percent of high propensity voters will never vote for you again in the district. Only about 60 percent of them never voted for me again.

COLMES: Were you satisfied with his explanations as to why he did what he did? He said, "I did it because I could," but he went on to say that was the worst possible reason, admitted moral failings.

And I wonder, as one of the impeachment managers, whether you felt that was an adequate explanation for that period of time?

ROGAN: I'll say something today that I said five years ago, and it probably got lost or drowned out someplace. Bill Clinton really doesn't owe me a personal explanation about his life. I never felt that his personal life was the business of the United States House of Representatives nor of the U.S. Senate.

As Lanny knows, my problem with President Clinton was that I believed he committed perjury and obstructed justice, and believing that and believing the evidence warranted that, I voted to impeach him and ended up prosecuting the case in the Senate.

But nobody that I knew was interested in impeaching Bill Clinton because of a personal relationship or personal failings. It had to do with...

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: It had to do with lying under oath as the chief law enforcement officer, Congressman. Good to see you again. Thanks for being with us.

And Lanny, Lanny, Lanny, how are you? You just left Bill Clinton, didn't you?

DAVIS: I just left a big audience where he was speaking on the book party launching this great book.

HANNITY: He loves this. It's all about me; it's all about me. He loves this. This is great for him.

DAVIS: An autobiography is, by definition.

HANNITY: "My Life," me, me, I, I, I.

All right. Let's forget about what the right-wing conspiracy thinks. Let's go to "The New York Times," your beloved "New York Times" that reviewed Mr. Clinton's book.

Let's put up on the screen some of what it said.

"The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self- indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull. The sound of one man paddling away, not for the reader but for himself and some distant recording angel of history."

It goes on, "In many ways the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton's presidency: lack of discipline, leading to squandered opportunities, high expectations undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration."

DAVIS: Well, look, this same reviewer used almost the same words about Hillary Rodham Clinton's book, and she sold a million copies. This reviewer obviously has a jaundiced view of the Clintons and writes almost similar reviews. You could have Scotch taped and pasted.

The fact is Bill Clinton...

HANNITY: But wait, wait. Why are you discrediting him? You go right to your same old strategy of if they don't say anything nice about the Clintons, trash them.

DAVIS: Because if you read the review, you would compared to what she wrote about Hillary Clinton, you would say this is a pretty biased...

HANNITY: OK, so that's -- why are you trashing the person? Why can't you just say, "OK, that's just one person's view"? Why do you have to go after them?

DAVIS: It is -- It is certainly one person's view. But your viewers who just heard you read those nasty quotes should know that if you read the Hillary Rodham Clinton review...

HANNITY: You are crazed, Lanny.

DAVIS: ...this reviewer wrote, you would find almost the same words used.

The fact is she's entitled to her opinion, but she misstated facts and you're not entitled to misstate facts. She said in her reviewer that Bill Clinton lied about real estate and she, in fact, is wrong about Whitewater...

HANNITY: I don't care. I really don't care about the Clintons.

DAVIS: You quoted it.

HANNITY: I think Hillary wants to be president and that's a different story we'll get to in a second here.

I want to deal with this. Dan Rather said as part of this interview it took years for Mr. Clinton to admit that he was lying in that interview, meaning the "60 Minutes" interview about Jennifer Flowers and that he, in fact, had a relationship with Jennifer Flowers.

And he really has a pattern. When William Safire referred to -- used the term "congenital liar," a lot of liberals got mad. But he lied there, he lied under oath and I would argue that he lied repeatedly.

Why should we believe anything in the book?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, Bill Safire was talking about Hillary Clinton.

HANNITY: That's right.

DAVIS: And he was wrong and, thanks to that column, I got motivated and ended up with my job.

HANNITY: Do you think Bill Clinton is an honest man?

DAVIS: Bill Clinton in this book, yes. I think Bill Clinton is an honest man who was not honest about having an affair with a young woman.

And most Americans were able to make the pivot that I made that you still can't make, which is, you can forgive somebody's private life failures and still think his performance in office deserves admiration.

HANNITY: I don't dislike -- I think what he did was disgraceful for the country. I think the fact that it was self-indulgent -- Jim, we'll go to you, Congressman -- that he put the whole country through this. He put you through this.

He put himself above what was in our best national interests, when it would have been the more graceful thing to exit and say, "You know what? This isn't good for the country. I should go."

ROGAN: I've always been amused at the suggestion that President Clinton's impeachment was part of some vast right-wing conspiracy, because for people that subscribe to that, they have to believe that right-wing conservatives wanted to remove a moderate left president who was a lame duck and replace him with Al Gore as an incumbent president.

I don't think he was going to resign. He never intended to resign. I believe that -- I believe he told the truth when he was asked that question.

COLMES: I'll tell you what, congressman.

ROGAN: It was never my place -- I'm sorry.

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