What's going on here?

Well, guess what, folks — the early returns are in, and Gary Bauer isn't going to like them. If you like your politics astonishing, you'll love the response to a Time/CNN poll that asked, this past weekend, "If Bush did use cocaine in his 20s, should that disqualify him from being President?"

No less than 84 percent said no. No more than 11 percent said yes.

Eighty-four percent? "Do you favor sunny days?" doesn't get 84 percent. What's more, by a 58-36 percent margin, the public says reporters shouldn't be asking Bush about cocaine allegations in the first place.

Certainly the public is right: Bush's past partying days have no more relevance than Clinton's past partying days had. Those of us — and it wasn't 84 percent of America — who felt that way about Wild Bill ought to stay consistent on the point.

But the big story here is that the presumed standard-bearer of the party of government-imparted family values can survive even the appearance of being a former coke user. Right when it appeared that Clinton was some sort of supernatural politician of steel for surviving an eight-year avalanche of personal attacks, it turns out that he may not have been so special, after all.

We the people just like good political theater.

A fitting footnote to the story was provided by none other than the master himself. With no apparent provocation, the White House virtually went running after the press trucks this week, yelling, "Me, too!" to get in the coke story.

According to UPI, White House spokesman Jim Kennedy said, "The president has never done cocaine," adding, "That applies to his entire life," and White House press secretary Joe Lockhart followed up, saying that Kennedy's statement was "both authorized and accurate."

Thanks for sharing, fellows, but sorry.

We're on to the next Bill Clinton.

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