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BEATTS ME!

Ken, Ya Gotta See This Flick and Learn

May 17, 1998|ANNE BEATTS | Anne Beatts is a writer who lives in Hollywood

This political figure is top dog in his adopted hometown, where he shares his home if not his bed with a woman of questionable reputation who is publicly vilified for her scandalous past.

Tall and handsome, he owes his massive bulk to a fondness for bread products. His up-from-hardscrabble background has caused his enemies to imply that he is illiterate. But his personal warmth and empathy make him greatly beloved by most of his constituents.

A man of the people, he is credited with growing the economy, reducing unemployment while raising the minimum wage, and supporting the rights of women and children. His personal popularity is at an all-time high. Yet his future is threatened by a relentless government official whose rigid morality compels him to root out all wrongdoing, no matter how negligible or how far in the past it may be.

Who is . . . Bill Clinton? Sorry, wrong answer. Who is Jean Valjean, the hero of "Les Miserables," which was a novel by Victor Hugo before it was a Broadway musical and, most recently, a movie starring Liam Neeson, now playing at your local multiplex. Go check it out. True Zippergate (or whatever the heck awkward neologism they're using now) buffs will be struck by the staggering parallels.

I'm telling you, it's awesome. Forget all that stuff about Nixon having a vice president named Ford and a secretary named Evelyn Lincoln and Lincoln being assassinated in the Ford Theatre, or whatever. This is the real deal. Get this on the Internet, like yesterday. Maybe even start a Web site. (Definitely alert Geraldo. Everyone knows how he feels about that Kenneth Starr weasel.)

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For starters, Bill Clinton is a hunk and so is Liam Neeson, OK? So there's one amazing coincidence, right off. Hunky Liam, as this Jean Valjean character (who is meant to be French even though he has an Irish accent), steals a loaf of bread and goes to prison. It's kinda like Whitewater--no big deal, right? I mean, like the Clintons didn't even make major bucks off it or anything. Besides, just like Liam, I mean Jean Valjean, back then they were broke and hungry--you know our prez, he's always hungry.

Anyway, Jean Valjean wriggles out of his legal problems and turns into a good guy and gets elected. Just like Bill. So then, years go by and he's still hunky, doing a great job, helping the widows and orphans, everybody's happy.

Until along comes Inspector Javert, who's Geoffrey Rush, the piano-playing genius guy from that Australian movie, only this time he has flat hair and doesn't twitch. He doesn't even blink.

And man, is he scary! He's like this real right-wing type, always talking about God and his moral duty, but meanwhile he really gets off on arresting prostitutes. And he's like, obsessed with Jean Valjean. Exactly like Kenneth Starr.

So this time Jean Valjean manages to slip out from under, but Kenneth Starr, I mean Inspector Javert, won't give up. He just doesn't know when to quit. He's like a dog with a bone. He keeps after poor Jean Valjean for years and years, but he can't pin him down.

But Jean Valjean happens to be infatuated with this girl who is young enough to be his daughter whom he's promised to take care of. Sound familiar? And naturally she's the one who gets Jean Valjean in trouble again. Just like Monica did with Bill. I mean, is this another unbelievable coincidence or what?

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I don't know whether Kenneth Starr has seen the movie. I get the feeling he doesn't get out much. But he really ought to, or least treat himself to a Blockbuster night when it comes out on video, which it will for sure, way before Starr gives up on his case against the president.

Starr oughta scope out the ending. Because after years and years of Inspector Javert's spending all this time and money hounding Jean Valjean and tormenting his friends and neighbors, the good guy--or the almost good guy, he did steal that loaf of bread after all, and we really kinda maybe don't know about Whitewater either--wins. Inspector Javert jumps off a bridge with handcuffs on and drowns in the Seine, glug, glug, that's the last we hear of him. And Jean Valjean goes free and goes home.

That should give independent counsel Kenneth Starr cause to think about devoting his life and more than $40 million of our money to chasing down somebody like Jean Valjean, I mean President Clinton, over something as inconsequential as a loaf of bread or some old Arkansas failed land deal that nobody cares about anyway. And if he's so busy handing out subpoenas that he can't make it to the video store, or read the whole book, he could always study the Cliffs Notes.

That Victor Hugo is some writer. Maybe President Clinton might want to start handing out copies of "Les Miserables" instead of Walt Whitman from now on.

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