Coffee Trek: The Next Generation

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WASHINGTON: Last week on the video soap that's gripping the Beltway — as the Coffeepot Turns — we saw Bill, our slick anti-hero, pressing the flesh, pouring the joe and having a quiet moment in a mysterious scene with the evil Huang.

Actually the Clinton videos, 45 more of which were unveiled late Tuesday, looked a little more like “Twin Peaks” — few viewers can understand what's going on, but there's a lot of damn fine coffee.

Critical response to the second installment — in which Bill moves on to a Washington hotel, talks numbers with his guests and shakes hands with a now-indicted Teamsters official — was decidedly underwhelming. Most memorably, CNN reporter Candy Crowley compared them to a foreign art-house flick: "There's no plot, no action and you can't understand the dialogue."

But stay tuned. There are 12 more tapes to come Wednesday, and a few interesting snippets are starting to sneak through. Like the tape obtained by ABC's Nightline, showing Bill publicly praising Huang during a '96 fund-raiser: "He has never told me anything that didn't come to pass," said Bill enigmatically, words that could mean only one thing: sequel.