Congress: Let's Go to the Videotape

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WASHINGTON: The Democrats, of course, never had a chance. Not long after a dueling-banjos press conference between Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde and official minority wag Barney Frank, the timetable was set: the Clinton tapes, along with 3,183 pages of transcripts and additional materials, will hit the airwaves at 9:00 ET Monday morning. Republicans, naturally, want to convict the President in the court of public opinion, and Democrats -- well, Democrats would obviously like this whole thing to go back in the vault. Consequence: the statesmanship charade is off. "If this is bipartisanship, then the Taliban wins the medal for religious tolerance," Frank quipped after the vote. Hyde answered that the mostly party-line votes were "civil." "Yeah," retorted Frank. "Very civil and very partisan."

Special Report The official Republican rationale for the wholesale release is that it would all be leaked anyway. It's a valid concern. But clearly, the sight of the President squirming under the hot lights -- and splitting some extemely fine legal hairs -- is expected to appeal to the horse sense of ordinary Americans, who know a lie when they see and hear one, no matter what David Kendall says. The supporting documents, meanwhile, will be aimed more at the groin. Much of material Starr left out of his report is, as Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah described it, "stuff that makes me blush, makes me sick to my stomach." Is America any keener to see it yet? Not according to a CNN/TIME poll released Friday, in which 67 percent said it was a bad idea to broadcast Clinton's video testimony. Considering the ugly mood on the Hill right now, however, that's one majority that won't matter.