John McCaslin

"Whatever the facts of Clinton's personal life, it is beyond dispute that he has associated with some decidedly unpresidential company," Todd S. Purdum writes of former President Bill Clinton in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

To back up his claim, Mr. Purdum notes that in 2002 Mr. Clinton flew to Africa with investor Jeffrey Epstein on his private Boeing 727 on an anti-AIDS and economic-development mission. Others in the small delegation included actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Chris Tucker.

"In 2006, Epstein was indicted on state charges of soliciting prostitution in Palm Beach, Florida, and he later came under investigation by federal authorities amid allegations that he hired under-age girls for massages ...," notes Mr. Purdum, the husband of Mr. Clinton's former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers.

"He remains the subject of at least four pending civil lawsuits from young women and is reportedly expected to accept a plea deal on a state charge that would give him 18 months in prison, followed by house arrest, in lieu of a trial now set to begin this month."

Inside the Beltway can't substantiate any of Mr. Purdum's suggestions, but this columnist can speak of the "unpresidential company" the writer says the former president keeps.

By freak coincidence in 2002, while on an unrelated writing assignment, I happened to check in to the Cape Grace hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, mere seconds ahead of Mr. Clinton and his Hollywood cohorts. In fact, we all happened to dine at the same Cape Town restaurant that night.

The following morning, after what was a very late night for the group in the hotel's Bascule Whisky Bar and Wine Cellar, it wasn't anything Mr. Clinton did that the Cape Grace management whispered into my ear. Rather, it dealt with Mr. Spacey's extremely randy behavior, and with a hotel employee no less.

At war and at ease

"The American President" is the title of a new exhibit of Associated Press news photos that went on display yesterday at the National Press Club capturing U.S. presidents at war and at ease - until, of course, seemingly inevitable personal scandals raise their ugly heads.

Among the memorable shots on display through July 12: photographer Paul Vathis capturing President John F. Kennedy conferring gravely with his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, at Camp David after the unsuccessful 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion; Ron Edmonds' rapid sequence of the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan at the Hilton Hotel in Washington; and photos by J. Scott Applewhite of a stressed-out President Bill Clinton during his 1998 impeachment battle.

Say cheese

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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