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  • President Clinton's temper flares when asked questions
    on Ralph Nader, death penalty, Middle East

    New York City - When President Clinton called Pacifica Radio's
    WBAI on election day morning to shore up the vote for Vice
    President Al Gore and First Lady Hillary Clinton, he did not expect
    to spend 30 minutes defending his administration's record on the
    death penalty, the Middle East and racial profiling, among other
    issues. But that is exactly what happened when he encountered
    Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica's flagship newsmagazine
    Democracy Now! and Gonzalo Aburto, host of WBAI's Alternativa

    The journalists confronted Clinton for flying back to Arkansas in
    1992 during the presidential campaign to execute Ricky Ray
    Rector, a mentally impaired man, questioned his administration's
    support of sanctions against Iraq, killing thousands of children
    every month, and asked him whether he would grant executive
    clemency to Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who is
    serving life sentence for murder at Leavenworth Penitentiary in
    Kansas. This was the first time that Clinton has addressed the
    Peltier case publicly.

    The interview began with Goodman asking the President: "You are
    calling radio stations telling people to vote. What do you say to
    people who feel the two parties are bought by corporations and that
    at this point their vote doesn't make a difference?" Clinton
    responded that "there is not a shred of evidence to support that."

    Clinton provided lengthy answers to Goodman's and Aburto's
    questions, but got increasingly angry at their critical nature. At one
    point he showed his famous temper, raising his voice at Goodman:
    "You have asked questions in a hostile, combative and even
    disrespectful tone." He agreed with Goodman's assertion that the
    US "has the largest number of prisoners in the industrialized world"
    (2 million by the latest counts), dodged a question on whether he
    would issue an executive order banning racial profiling, saying "we
    are trying to find a way to issue orders and rules and reservations
    that end racial profiling" and finally lost his temper when Goodman
    suggested that he was partly responsible for Green Party
    candidate Ralph Nader's popularity "for having driven the
    Democratic Party to the right."

    "Now you listen to this, the other thing that Ralph Nader says is
    that he is as pure as Ceasar's wife on the environment," Clinton
    fumed, proceeding to rattle off the administration's
    accomplishments. Goodman then countered with questions on the
    death penalty and the administration's passage of NAFTA and
    other free trade agreements, to which Clinton answered that "two
    thirds of the American people support that."

    Democracy Now!, Pacifica Radio's daily national grassroots
    newsmagazine, airs Monday through Friday on community radio
    stations around the country. Tomorrow's two-hour "Election 2000:
    The Morning After" special will include the interview in full. Check
    local listings. In the New York area, the election special will air on
    November 8 on WBAI-FM 99.5 (8-10 am).