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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Clinton: From scandal to plaudits
By Clare Murphy
BBC News Online

Bill Clinton meets people in Northern Ireland
Working the crowd: Bill Clinton in action
In the immediate aftermath of his departure from a presidency which was itself tinged by scandal, Bill Clinton was once again mired in controversy.

The Clintons were accused of removing furniture and expensive gifts from the White House, while a presidential pardon for fugitive billionaire financier Marc Rich prompted outrage on both sides of the political divide.

And then, quiet after the storm. For a period, Mr Clinton was even dubbed "the forgotten man".

No longer. This former president has been busy.

Whether its sharing recipes in cookery books or striking deals on cheap Aids drugs for the developing world, Mr Clinton has been beavering away at a number of projects, and built up a tidy sum in the process.

Mr Clinton's after dinner speech circuit has taken him around the world, and last year earned him nearly $10 million.

While the investment company Morgan Stanley apologised to its clients in early 2001 for inviting the then scandal-hit former president to speak, now guests will often pay thousands of dollars for the pleasure of his company.

Golden glow

Failed presidential contender Al Gore wanted little to do with the outgoing chief three years ago.

Clinton and Davis
Clinton's success did not rub off on California's former governor
Now a string of Democrats seeking office have sought to pose with him for the cameras, keen to cash in on the widely recognised "golden glow" - although his presence did little to help former California Governor Gray Davis, recently ousted by the Austrian-born film star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It is this glow nonetheless that has enabled Mr Clinton to command such high fees for public speaking at home and abroad.

But the former president draws the line at Africa, where he has tended to appear for free, and where he enjoys a close relationship with the former South African President Nelson Mandela - the man who allegedly started Mr Clinton thinking about Aids.

"Several times in recent months Bill Clinton has said -only half jokingly-he hadn't thought about tackling certain problems until Nelson Mandela began talking to him," says politics professor Margaret Scranton, who teaches a course at Arkansas University devoted to the Clinton presidency.

"But also the fact that Bill Clinton has seen the Aids situation from his many trips abroad, has made him aware of the needs of Aids sufferers."

This week's drugs deal will slash the cost of Aids medication in the developing world, and, aid workers say, if it is seen through could have a significant impact for sufferers in southern Africa and India.

The deal was brokered by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, a body whose programmes include an HIV/Aids initiative, a drive for religious reconciliation around the world - which has seen a "Peace center" established in Northern Ireland, and efforts to further India's social and economic development.

It remains difficult to assess the concrete impact of these programmes. Yet it is widely agreed that Mr Clinton's endeavours are enhancing the famous golden glow.

Serious fun

And the former president also finds time for some rather more light-hearted activities.

Bill and Hillary Clinton
A happy ending for the Clintons?
Bill and wife Hillary recently released a cook book, which included recipes from the first couple themselves as well as those from family, friends and political aides.

Muhammed Ali's bread pudding is featured, as are Don Henley's corn dogs.

President George W Bush's pretzel mix is not.

Mr Clinton also joined the former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev to narrate a new recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf earlier this year.

Deviating from the original version, which saw the wolf captured and humiliated by Peter, Mr Clinton's version strikes a happier note, with the two learning to live in peace with one another.

Mr Clinton's own post-presidential existence also appears to have claimed a happier ending than storytellers might have imagined.


SEE ALSO:
Clinton brokers landmark Aids deal
24 Oct 03  |  Americas
Clinton unveils Bosnia memorial
20 Sep 03  |  Europe
Clinton delivers peace address
06 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland
Politicians narrate Peter and the Wolf
05 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
Bill Clinton: What Bill did next
04 Oct 02  |  Newsmakers


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