M is for Monica: an A to Zippergate of the affair

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Attorneys. Since this is the United States, these are the only people who have absolutely nothing to lose from Zippergate, whatever the outcome. Bill Clinton has a whole posse. Some, like Bruce Lindsey (see below), come with the job and are paid by the taxpayer, and their conversations, it was recently ruled, may not be confidential. Clinton's personal lawyer is the quiet, non-forthcoming David Kendall. Monica is now on her third team of lawyers: the first set, recommended by a White House trusty, Vernon Jordan, were replaced early on by a friend of the Lewinsky family, William Ginsburg. When Ginsburg appeared to like the limelight too much, setting the record for Sunday TV talk show appearances, he was replaced by Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein, a couple of established Washington "insiders" who know how to work the system. Everyone who has ever been summoned to testify in the five-year Clinton-related investigation has his/her own attorney, each one making work for many more.

Bill - William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, former state governor of Arkansas, and acknowledged womaniser, also known (to Monica) as The Creep. Bill would prefer to be solving the country's health and pension problems, visiting China or Russia, or raising millions of dollars for the Democratic Party (when he is not playing on the White House lawn with his dog, Buddy). But since his Zippergate broke on an unsuspecting world in January, he has spent his time fathoming out how to say as little as possible about a woman called Monica. He has endlessly denied having an affair with her (or with anyone else, for that matter, except once, long ago, with a girl called Gennifer - see below). Famous (last?) words: `I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky.'

B is also for Bruce - (Lindsey): lawyer, deputy White House counsel and long-time Friend of Bill (FOB) from their days in Arkansas. If anyone in the White House knows the truth about Bill and Monica, it is Bruce.

Chelsea (Clinton) - as in "Poor Chelsea": 18-year-old daughter of Bill and Hillary. First appearance as awkward teenager with brace on her teeth, butt of ugly duckling jokes during Bill's first presidential campaign. Now a ballet-loving swan about to start her second year studying medicine at the prestigious West Coast Stanford University, which is, possibly not coincidentally, about as far as you can get from Washington DC in the continental United States The most charitable explanation for Bill's denials (if they are untrue): to shield Chelsea and Hillary (see below).

Dress - "that dress" in dark blue, bought by Monica from The Gap, and currently in FBI labs to be tested for semen stains (or, as the US media prefer, "physical evidence of a relationship"). Its existence was reported in January, and deliberately confused by White House with a souvenir T- shirt that Bill gave to Monica after his holiday in Martha's Vineyard. The dress that Monica apparently said she would "never wash" was surrendered to prosecutors as a key element of Monica's immunity deal.

D is also for Dolly (Kyle Browning) - Bill's school sweetheart and now a Texas lawyer, who wrote a novel based - she says - on their 30-year relationship, which she could not get published. She claims intimidation by Bill over many years and is suing for compensation.

Evidence - physical evidence of wrong-doing has been very thin on the ground over the five years of Starr's investigation. Hence the excitement over "that dress".

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) - called in by Ken Starr in January to "wire up" Linda Tripp to tape her friend Monica. Called in again in July to test Dress for semen stains.

Gennifer (Flowers) - pretty, "sassy" blonde, former nightclub singer and TV journalist from Arkansas, who nearly ruined Bill's chances of the presidency in 1992 when she alleged that they had had a 12-year affair. The only "other" woman Bill admits to having had sex with, just once. Gennifer's recollection is different.

Hillary (Rodham Clinton) - wife of Bill since 1975, mother of Chelsea. Rescued Bill from Gennifer problem, sitting beside him on CBS TV sofa and holding his hand as he confessed to having "caused pain in my marriage". Rescued him again in January, when she blamed his Monica problem on a "vast right-wing conspiracy". Always loyally at Bill's side when he's in political girl trouble, but will she stay after he leaves office?

Impeachment - the only way to get rid of a president. A trial by the US Congress that could remove Bill from office if he were found guilty of a "high crime or misdemeanour". There is much legal discussion about whether simple perjury would qualify.

I is also for Intern: un- or underpaid young person on work experience programme; White House has hundreds of them every year, including, in 1995, Monica. Now discouraged career path for "nice" girls and target of innumerable nudge, nudge jokes: Among duties of White House intern? "Servicing Air Force One".

I is also for Internet - home of the Drudge Report, whose one reporter, Matt Drudge, has brought many of the scoops in this story. Also where hundreds of websites relate Monica and Bill jokes in the worst possibly taste, illustrated by equally unsubtle animations.

Jones (Paula) - Arkansas state employee who brought sexual harassment suit against Bill in 1994, alleging unwanted sexual advantages in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991. Smeared by White House as "trailer park trash", despite her respectable upbringing - possibly because of her big hair. Her case - funded by a right-wing think-tank - thrown out for lack of evidence, April 1998; Jones is now appealing (but had $20,000 "nose job" first).

Ken (Starr) - independent prosecutor appointed August 1993 to investigate charges of fraud and cover-up in the Clintons' Whitewater land deal in Arkansas. Investigations expanded by the month, to include the sacking of White House travel office staff, the transfer to White House of FBI personal files to the White House, and - in January, 1998 - Monica. Denounced by Friends of Bill as politically motivated; defended by others as a meticulous lawyer, just doing his job. Pillar of establishment most often seen on TV wheeling his dustbin back from the kerb in the early morning.

Linda (Tripp): colleague and older woman friend of Monica at White House and later at the Pentagon - who secretly taped Monica's account of her affair with Bill and - oh horror - passed tapes to Ken. Dubbed "most reviled woman in America" for betraying the trust of her friend, and butt of unkind jokes about her bulky appearance. Underwent makeover before appearing as witness in investigation. After eight days of testimony, defended herself as "suburban mom, who was a military wife for 20 years and a faithful government employee for 18 years". Republican appointee at White House, but denies political agenda. Currently "working from home" on full $80,000 pa Pentagon salary.

L is also for Lucianne (Goldberg) - New York literary agent who was approached by Linda about publishing a book about her experience of the Clinton White House. A prime source of reliable "leaks" - "that dress", gifts from Clinton - based on what Linda has told her. She says the dress has three stains.

Monica (Lewinsky): plumpish Valley girl from rich and discordant family in Beverly Hills. now 25, White House intern from June 1995 and one of very few to get a permanent job after internship. Transferred to Pentagon public affairs office in April 1996 after hanging around Bill's office too much. Had top security clearance and foreign travel privileges. Told Linda all about Bill in more than 20 hours of phone calls, which Linda taped. Logged as visiting the White House 37 times in the 18 months after she was transferred. Claims Bill called her from Bosnia before Christmas and wore a tie she gave him on TV.

January: denied affair with Bill under oath.

July: agreed to give evidence in return for immunity from prosecution for perjury.

M is also for Marcia (Lewis) - Monica's "mom"; savvy socialite who marries well - most recently, in thick of daughter's investigation - to a New York businessman... Monica's confidante through the darkest days of January revelations. May have kept "the dress" as evidence and bargaining-counter. Shared her flat in Washington's Watergate complex with Monica.

Newsweek - got cold feet about scandal uncovered by their star investigative reporter, Michael Isikoff, in January, and pulled it from magazine, only to be scooped by Matt Drudge, maverick Internet reporter and gossip-monger (who has made the running on this story) and then the Washington Post, which printed Monica story first on 21 January. Newsweek has been running to catch up ever since.

Opinion Polls (Bill's salvation) - so far, his popularity ratings have held up remarkably well, even rising in the first month after scandal broke. More than 60 per cent of Americans now say that they think: Bill is doing a good job as president, that he had an affair with Monica and lied about it, and they don't care. As dramatic fall in Nixon's popularity in latter stages of Watergate showed, though, polls can be treacherous.

Perjury - what Bill would be guilty of if he lied when he denied having an affair with Monica when he gave evidence under oath to the Paula Jones investigation.

Quit? - Not Bill, not on past form.

Republicans - in Congress are some of Clinton's keenest supporters: they don't want infamy of bringing down a president and they don't want Al Gore to get a head start for the 2000 election by gaining the presidency by default in advance.

Subpoena - Bill became almost the last person in the White House (and the first sitting president) to be served with one on 17 July, but he kept quiet about it until he agreed to testify "voluntarily", when it was withdrawn. Proliferation of subpoenas in Washington during Bill's tenure has created new affliction: subpoena envy.

Tapes (audio and video) - crucial to this case: Linda's tapes of Monica's confessions; Monica's tapes of Bill on her answering machine, FBI tapes of Linda taping Monica, and Bill's taped evidence in the Paula Jones case and - on 17 August - to the Monica investigation.

United Nations - made Monica a job offer via Bill (Richardson), then US ambassador to the UN. He conducted the interview in the Watergate complex where he too has a flat. But Monica turned down the job; she didn't want to go to New York, and the money wasn't good enough.

Vernon (Jordan) - Washington businessman of infinite plausibility and Clinton's chief "fixer", who set Monica up with her first team of lawyers and then found her a job at Revlon (which she accepted, but Revlon later withdrew). Sits on multiple boards and committees and knows everyone who is anyone. One of first to be subpoenaed.

Whitewater - Arguably where it all began. Endlessly complicated (and failed) land deal in Arkansas on which Bill and Hillary say they lost money. Ken took over the year-old investigation five years ago tomorrow (5 August); 40m dollars of taxpayers' money later, he is still not done. Monica case was tagged on to Whitewater as further example, perhaps, of Clintonian obstruction of justice.

X-rated: most of the evidence that matters, causing angst in middle- class suburbs across America. We can no longer watch the news with our kids, say straitlaced parents. "Daddy, What's oral sex?" Acceptable answer: "Not written sex, dear."

You - "I'm you, I'm just like you," says Linda, trying to justify taping her erstwhile friend Monica, to Americans who value loyalty above truth - at least in sex.

Zippergate: the whole salacious mess that could yet bring down a president.