JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellClarence PageRobert Scheer
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review / July 7, 1998 / 13 Tamuz, 5758

Roger Simon

Roger Simon Forget about his legal
defense fund, buy Bubba shirts!

WASHINGTON -- A lot of people got paid a lot of money to pay attention to every word Bill Clinton said on his recent trip to China. Me, I paid attention to what he wore.

When he went to Africa earlier in the year, the heat was brutal, but Clinton didn't make any allowances for it.

The same shirt, day-in
and day-out? With all that Chinese
money, can't Bubba dress
like a mentsch?
At stop after stop, at outdoor speech after outdoor speech under blazing suns, he wore a dark suit, a white shirt buttoned to the neck and a tightly knotted tie. It didn't make any sense, but he did it.

In China, however, Bill Clinton was transformed. On the first hot day, he showed up jacketless and tieless in a teal, short-sleeved shirt.

I took careful notes about this. And when he showed up in the same teal, short-sleeved shirt a few days later, I noted it again. And then in Guilin, when he showed up in the same teal, short-sleeved shirt one more time, I did more than notice it, I went to his press secretary for an explanation.

I mean, come on: The president of the United States wears the same shirt three times in eight days?

He travels on a 747 with a huge staff, including several people who worry about his wardrobe. He could pack a dozen shirts if he wanted to; he could pack 10 dozen.

I travel with one rolling suitcase that I roll around myself, and I brought more shirts than he did.

So I went to Mike McCurry, the presidential spokesman, and I asked him if the president was at least washing the shirt out at night. Was he doing it in the hotel sink (shampoo works just fine, by the way) and then hanging it on those little retractable clothes lines in the shower?

But mainly, I wanted to know if he had really worn the same shirt three times in eight days.

"That's right," McCurry said. "But he must be washing it out. I mean somebody must be laundering it for him."

McCurry was sporting a very snazzy polo shirt with golf clubs on it and had not been seen in the same shirt twice, by the way.

McCurry disappeared, Clinton began to make a speech, and a few minutes into it, McCurry reappeared and came up to me.

"It's new," he said. "He's wearing a new shirt."

I was skeptical. I was very skeptical.

The president brought three identical teal shirts with him? I asked.

"Well, he has at least two," McCurry said. "I checked."

Which, when you look at it, was environmentally sound. The president did not have to use precious clean water to wash his shirts in China.

And China definitely has a clean water problem: China dumps 3 billion tons of untreated sewage into rivers and ultimately the ocean each year.

But if you think the water problem is bad, you ought to take a look at the air. You can, by the way. The air is very easy to see in much of China. It is brown and gray and yellow.

China admits to having a terrible pollution problem. Five of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are located in China.

The World Health Organization says the airborne suspended particulates in the air in some Chinese cities are up to nine times safe levels.

Some 900 million tons of coal, which provide two-thirds of China's energy needs, go up in smoke every year, causing pollution and acid rain.

More than one-quarter of all the deaths in China are caused by respiratory illness.

The average Chinese car spews 15 times the exhaust material of an American car, and leaded gas has just been banned, with catalytic converters not required on new cars until next year. And there are 1.3 million cars in Beijing alone.

That is the bad news. The good news is the Chinese government is moving on the problem, America is helping, and American businesses, some of which would like to sell China big-ticket items like nuclear reactors to replace coal-burning power plants, are delighted.

Before Clinton began his speech in Guilin, he sat on stage fanning himself with a paper fan. And when he began his speech, he thanked his hosts for his "energy efficient air conditioner."

Little else about the presidential trip was energy efficient, however.

Nearly 1,000 people in the presidential party were flown around on at least seven jet planes.

Marine One, a helicopter, was brought along from the United States, but the Chinese would not let Clinton use it for reasons of national pride, so his motorcade, comprised of dozens of vehicles, had to drive for hours to get to events, and that burned a lot of fuel.

Further, the cars were often kept idling while the president spoke to keep the air conditioning going, which added to the air pollution.

And then there were the presidential speeches, which lasted twice as long as normal due to the need for translation, which resulted in another environmental problem: noise pollution.

7/1/98: Wall-nuts
6/26/98: Perks and the press
6/23/98: There's a good reason Bubba wants gun-control...
6/19/98: Why Clinton can get away with going to Tiananmen Square
6/16/98: Maybe Big Brother ain't so bad after all
6/11/98: He claimed responsibility for Rwanda, so why isn't Bubba stopping Serbian genocide?
6/9/98: The Internet president?
6/4/98: You can call me ‘slick;' and you can call me ‘sick;' but never call me ‘Dick' .... as in Nixon, that is
6/2/98: Being a 'talkin'-head' is hard work
5/29/98 Pay the pol, pick the policy
5/27/98 A 'loo' in London
5/21/98Buba is back from Europe ... but what did he accomplish?
5/18/98Roses for Buba
5/12/98: Just who is "Mr. Republican" these days?"
5/7/98:"Why Clinton keeeps "going and going and going""
5/1/98:"Bubba v. Tabacka"
4/29/98:"You may ask, but should they tell?"
4/24/98:"McCurry and the kids from the ‘hood "
4/23/98: "NOW" should change its name to "THEN"
4/20/98: Freedom to be a jerk?
4/14/98: Bill is Hef's kinda guy
4/7/98: South African memories --- and a paradise not yet found
3/24/98: Bill's 12-day safari
3/20/98: Peace for Ireland?
3/18/98: Flat tire? Spare me
3/13/98: Latrell Sprewell's genius
3/10/98: On truth and reality
3/5/98: No, I'm not harrassing Hillary
3/3/98: The Unforgettable Henny Youngman
2/26/98: Grow up, boys!
2/24/98: Go get 'em, Bill!
2/19/98: My 15 minutes
2/17/98: The manic-depressive presidency
2/12/98: Drip, Drip, Drip
2/10/98: Clinton tunes out the networks
2/5/98: The flight of the Beast: America's love-hate relationship with scandal
2/3/98: Speaking Clintonese
1/29/98: What the president has going for him
1/27/98: Judgment call: how Americans view President Clinton
1/22/98: Bimbo eruptions past and present
1/20/98: Feeding the beast: Paula Jones gets the full O.J.
1/15/98: Let's get it over with: it's time to deal with Saddam, already
1/13/98: Sonny Bono is dead, let the good times roll
1/8/98: Carribbean Cheesecake: First couple has cake, eats cake
1/6/98: PO'ed: a suspected druggie jumps through the employment hoops
1/1/98: Cures for that holiday hangover
12/30/97: Buy stuff now
12/25/97: Peace to all squirrelkind
12/23/97: Home for the Holidays: Where John Hinckley, never convicted, will not be
12/18/97: Bill's B-list Bacchanalia: Press and politicos get cozy, to a point
12/16/97: All dressed up... (White House flack Mike McCurry speculates on his next career)

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.