Happy 20th: Clinton's Top 10 First Year Scandals

Clinton celebrates the 20th anniversary of his 1992 presidential announcement.


Former President Bill Clinton, the lovable rogue who on Monday celebrates the 20th anniversary of his entry into presidential politics, will forever be known for his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his resulting House impeachment.

But long before he even won the presidency from George H.W. Bush, Clinton was busy wracking up a laundry list of assorted scandals that he was so artful in dodging that he named himself the "comeback kid."

[See a slide show of 10 things Obama can learn from Clinton.]

As so-called Friends of Bill gather in Little Rock Monday to celebrate his election 20 years ago this weekend and Monday, here's a list of the top 10 scandals that popped up during his campaign and first year in office.

1. Gennifer Flowers. Almost out of the chute, Clinton was hit with allegations that he had an affair with a former cabaret singer, Gennifer Flowers. He would later go on 60 Minutes following the 1992 Superbowl to admit to having caused "pain" in his marriage.

2. "I didn't inhale." Back then smoking dope was scandalous, and he was hit with charges that he smoked marijuana in college. In March 1992, he admitted trying it and he offered up one of his most famous quotes. "When I was in England," he said, "I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn't like it. I didn't inhale and I didn't try it again."

[Read  more Whispers: Clinton Finally Gets 21st Century Bridge.]

3. Rose Law Firm. During the campaign, Arkansas first lady Hillary Clinton's work for Little Rock's politically-connected Rose Law Firm erupted with suggestions of conflicts of interest regarding state business. The campaign dismissed the charge, but Bill Clinton elevated the importance of his lawyer-wife when he said that America would be getting "two for the price of one."

4. Draft Dodging, War Protesting. Like many Baby Boom candidates back then, Clinton was accused of dodging the Vietnam War draft and hit for protesting the war while on foreign soil, when he was a student at England's Oxford University.

5. Don't Ask, Don't Tell. After his election and during his presidential transition, Clinton stepped into a political minefield by suggesting gays should be allowed to serve in the military, a debate just ended with the lifting of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, a compromise that Clinton authored in his first term.

6. Travelgate. In May of his first year, Clinton fired the White House travel office, alleging theft, charges tossed by U.S. District Court. The federal workers were replaced with Clinton allies from Arkansas and the firings were viewed as politically motivated. Clinton had said that if the alleged suspects were found innocent, he would find a way to pay their legal bills, but he never made good on that promise. [See the month's best editorial cartoons.]

7. Vince Foster. In July 1993, Vince Foster, a deputy White House counsel and friend of Hillary Clinton's in the Rose Law Firm, was found shot at a park on the Potomac River from an apparent suicide. Controversy swirled when it was learned that Clinton aides entered his White House office within hours of his death.

8. Whitewater. One of the cases Foster was working on was a controversial land deal called the Whitewater Development Corporation. It was a failed business deal between the Clintons and Jim and Susan McDougal that eventually led to a probe by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, though his final report focused on the Lewinsky scandal and barely mentioned Whitewater.

9. Healthcare. In 1993, the first couple attempted to overhaul healthcare. The first lady held several closed-door health care task force meetings to draw it up, but because the public wasn't invited, Congress raised questions of influence and a health association sued stop the meetings. The scandal played a role in scuttling the health reform plan.

10. Troopergate. In December 1993, the American Spectator reported allegations that Arkansas state troopers had arranged sexual liaisons for Clinton when he was governor. The story referenced a woman named Paula, who turned out to be Paula Jones, another sex scandal that dogged Clinton for years.

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