Historian Sheds Gossipy Light on Clinton Years

In new book, ex-prez discusses Lewinsky, Yeltsin's drunken caper
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 1:07 PM CDT
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network event in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 30, 2009.   (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
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(Newser) – Between 1993 and 2001, historian Taylor Branch met regularly with then-President Clinton for a series of taped interviews. The transcripts form the basis of a new book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, to be released next week. USA Today got a look and singles out some highlights:

  • Secret Service agents had to corral a drunk Boris Yeltsin trying to hail a cab on Pennsylvania Avenue—wearing only his underwear. The Russian leader, who was bunking at Blair House, told them he wanted a pizza.

  • Discussing the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton told Branch he "just cracked" under the pressures of the Whitewater investigation and the Democrats' congressional losses in 1994.
  • After Al Gore lost the 2000 election, the two "exploded" at one another in a heated conversation. Clinton accused Gore of underutilizing him on the campaign; Gore said the Lewinsky scandal had ruined his chances.
  • George W. Bush "was unqualified to be president … but he had shrewd campaign instincts," Clinton told Branch, John McCain "might make a good president, but he had no idea how to run."