Transcripts of lost tapes show Bill Clinton's rough jokes

March 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., March 18 (UPI) -- Archivists at Bill Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., say they have transcripts of the president joking with aides but the tapes are lost.

The transcripts of two conversations as Clinton and his speechwriters prepared for the 1999 State of the Union were among thousands of pages of documents released Friday, ABC News reported. Diane LeBlanc, a library official, said the transcripts were done by Clinton's staff and the library knows nothing about what happened to the original tapes.

The transcript shows Clinton doing some rough joking. At one point, he says former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, then the House majority whip, was "probably a major suspect" in the killing of James Byrd, a black man killed by dragging in Texas in the summer of 1998.

Talking about whether to bring up Matthew Shepard, the gay college student tortured and killed in Wyoming in October 1998, Clinton said his pollster had warned him his numbers went down whenever he mentioned homosexuals in a speech. Clinton also said, while talking about Shepard's parents, that "white people in Wyoming ... are by definition Republicans."

At the time, there was also a lot of anxiety about Y2K, the feared computer breakdown that would come with the end of the century. Clinton said he wished he could advise U.S. residents to "buy shotgun shells and bottled water" and said the draft speech instead was "a little more bull[expletive]y."

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