Film review: Hunting of the President, The

Published: Thursday, Oct. 21 2004 12:54 p.m. MDT

As first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton watches, President Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998, thanks House Democrats who voted against impeachment.

Susan Walsh, Associated Press

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In its way, "The Hunting of the President" is a political statement that is as one-sided and personally motivated as "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Yet this feature-length documentary feels more honest than Michael Moore's Bush-bashing smash hit. It certainly does a more convincing and credible job of presenting its case.

How audiences react may depend on their political beliefs and ideologies. But it's presented well and doesn't feature anything like Moore's increasingly off-putting brand of sarcastic humor.

"The Hunting of the President" is based on the book by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, and supposes that several right-wing groups joined forces in a decadelong campaign to discredit former U.S. President Bill Clinton. And that these forces, through the Whitewater investigations and questions about some of the former president's dealings as Arkansas governor, made the case to have Clinton impeached, helped by such ammunition as his relationships with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinski.

Co-director Harry Thomason is a personal friend of Clinton's, and there are several moments here where the film fails to present both sides of the issues. However, it certainly has its share of effective moments, including its condemnation of the Washington press corps sent to cover the Whitewater investigations and the Kenneth Starr hearings. (The filmmakers use the newsmen's own words to convict them of shoddy journalism.)

A section dealing with former Clinton business partner Susan McDougal, who served time in prison rather than falsely indict Clinton, is so well-done that, by itself, it could have been the subject of another, equally fascinating documentary.

"The Hunting of the President" is not rated but would probably receive an R for graphic descriptions of sex acts and use of sexual slang terms, scattered use of strong sexual profanity, violence (newsreel war footage), and fleeting glimpses of veiled female nudity. Running time: 90 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com

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