Edited for Television

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WASHINGTON: The truth, even when it's on tape, is all in how you recall it. With a bit of selective editing, minority counsel Abbe Lowell, followed by his majority counterpart, the perennially grumpy David Schippers, showed the Judiciary Committee a "Rashomon"-style highlight film of the Year of Monica. It was composed of clips from Clinton's grand jury testimony, his deposition in the Paula Jones case (a premiere showing), the Tripp tapes and even Starr's own testimony (before both the committee and Diane Sawyer).

In Lowell's hands, the tapes that once were supposed to shame Clinton out of office became video for the defense. Best moments: Clinton rolling his eyes as the Jones team rambled, and Monica insisting to gal pal Tripp that what she and the Big Creep had done wasn't really sex. "It is a typically canny move by the White House to try and use the tapes in the President's defense," says TIME senior political writer Eric Pooley. Unsurprisingly, majority counsel David Schippers' VCR told a different story: Clinton sounding (and looking) guilty as sin.

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Not that this Beltway version of a sitcom-flashback episode was aimed at persuading the committee -- or even the public. "Both of them are operating with the full expectation that no one can change any committee members' minds at this point," says Pooley. "This is aimed straight at those two dozen GOP moderates in the House." Clinton still doesn't have much to fear from a Senate trial. Each combatant focused his attack on perjury, the likeliest article to be passed by the House, and let the clips do the talking. Lowell made the better veejay -- and this being the age of the TV sound bite, it might be the White House's best gambit yet.