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As If

We Beg Your Pardon--Plus Your Credulity


If you thought there was an uproar over former President Bill Clinton's pardon of a fugitive financier and a convicted Los Angeles drug dealer, wait until you see what's next. A little-known constitutional clause grants unlimited pardoning power to any ex-president whose wife is elected to the U.S. Senate and whose only child attends Stanford University. Here's a quick rundown of other pleas for mercy Clinton is considering:

Name: Southern California Edison, PG&E, et al.

Offenses: Skyrocketing electric bills, disruption of state's economy, rolling blackouts.

Their Case: Bail us out or we turn off the lights.

Letters of Support: Gov. Gray Davis ("I don't care what happens as long as it doesn't ruin my chances to run for president.")

Outlook: Excellent. Companies have donated millions to Democratic campaign coffers.


Name: Sean "Puffy" Combs

Offense: Gun possession

His Case: I'm a celebrity--I'm above the law!

Letters of Support: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, the entire cast of "Diff'rent Strokes," and Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman ("May L. Ron Hubbard ruin our marital bliss if we are lying when we say Sean is totally innocent!")

Outlook: Depends on whether J. Lo (a.k.a. Jennifer Lopez) makes personal plea to Clinton.

Name: George Bush (the dad)

Offense: Granting a presidential pardon to his Defense secretary, Caspar W. Weinberger, who was facing trial for allegedly lying about his knowledge of secret arms shipments to Iran.

His Case: It's too embarrassing to ask my son to pardon me. The kid still thinks I'm a god. Mr. ex-President, pardon me, and I'll guarantee you W. will make any future legal problems you might have disappear. If the media asks, just repeat: No quid pro quo.

Letters of Support: Gerald Ford ("Nothing is nobler than one president pardoning another president.")

Outlook: Slam-dunk!


Name: "OnTheFly" from Sneek, Netherlands

Offense: Creator of Anna Kournikova virus

His Case: I was trying to teach people a lesson to be more careful when they open e-mails. Perhaps this is why American education is so poor--you punish your teachers.

Letters of Support: Creators of "Melissa" and "I Love You" viruses.

Outlook: Very poor. Clinton is furious he didn't get a sneak preview of Kournikova with or without a virus.


Name: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens

Offense: Alleged involvement in homicide case

His Case: I want to do a commercial where someone asks, "Ray, you've just been pardoned for possible involvement in a homicide case. What are you going to do?" Answer: "I'm going to Disneyland!"

Letters of Support: Latrell Sprewell, the Dallas Cowboys and former Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson.

Outlook: Not good unless he can help the Clintons find some furniture to replace the White House stuff they returned.


Name: Barney the dinosaur

Offense: Cloying manner and obnoxious songs. A grand jury is poised to indict.

His Case: "I love you, you love me."

Letters of Support: Cardinal Roger Mahony initially endorsed Barney's plea for clemency, but has since apologized, saying he had confused Barney with another purple dinosaur, Dino Flintstone.

Outlook: Pretty good. Rumor has it Barney is one of Bill's Arkansas cousins.


Name: Jesse Jackson

Offense: Adultery, fathered child out of wedlock; allegedly used charity funds to pay for mistress' moving expenses and child support.

His Case: There's too much work to be done, too many rhymes to be spun; too many cameras around, too many corporations to shake down.

Letters of Support: Widow of Dr. Seuss, who liked Jackson's rendition of "Green Eggs and Ham" on "Saturday Night Live," Gary Hart and Jimmy Swaggart. Said Swaggart: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Outlook: Jesse pardoned himself after a three-day hiatus from public eye.


Name: Fox Television

Offense: Produced and broadcast "Temptation Island"

Its Case: Nonexistent

Letters of Support: None

Outlook: Unfavorable. The producers rejected Bill and Hillary's application to appear on the show.


Name: Kobe Bryant

Offense: Believes he's the entire offense.

His Case: 29.9 per game scoring average. Second in the league to that ball hog Alan Iverson. Great television commercials.

Letters of Support: Jack Nicholson: "The fans can't handle the truth!"

Outlook: Scrounge up some court-side seats, and Kobe's home free.

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