Tuesday, April 18, 2006
THE SMOKING GUN
It is late August of 1994. In the photograph, the President, who was then a candidate for governor, is caught by surprise by the photographer in a motel room in Big Spring, Texas. He is pictured face-on, standing over the nude corpse of a young woman. In his hand, pointing down at his side, is a small caliber pistol. A slight trickle of smoke can be seen (under magnification) emanating from the barrel.
The woman has been positively identified as Vivien Menke, who was working as an aide in the Bush campaign for governor. Miss Menke, 23-years-old at the time, has been missing for twelve years.
The photograph, which first appeared in the February 21st, 2006 issue of The Guardian, and most recently seen in the London Times, was at first thought to be a hoax. But the man who took the photograph and released it to The Guardian, has come forward, and has turned the photo and the negative over to the FBI.
He has also tendered a mini-cassette tape containing a recording of the President confessing to the crime.
An FBI spokesperson has identified the man as Clu Dallas Hapgood, a 32-year-old Government Services Administration employee.
According to the FBI, both the photograph and the tape recording have been subjected to thorough analysis by experts within the department, and their authenticity has been confirmed.
Tholos has learned that Hapgood was a journalism student at Baylor University, who, on his own initiative, undertook to cover the candidate, George W. Bush, in his 1994 bid for governor. During a telephone conversation, Mr. Hapgood told Tholos that he was invited to travel with the press as Bush barnstormed across Texas.
He recalled the campaign made a stop for the night in the town of Big Spring, some two-hundred miles west of Fort Worth. There, the team secured a twenty-one room motel, The Four Horses, for the members of Bush's entourage.
Hapgood said he was elated when he learned that he had been placed in room number 7, which happened to be next to the room in which the Bushes, George and Laura, were ensconced, room number 8. “I was a member of the Young Republicans at Baylor,” Hapgood reminisced, “and I was a big fan of Mr. Bush's at the time. I just couldn't believe how lucky I was to be in the room next to George and Laura.”
Hapgood relates that around seven o'clock that night, he walked to a nearby Dairy Queen, where he purchased a double cheeseburger and a chocolate malt. As he was walking back, he noticed a young woman entering Mr. Bush's room. He recognized her as Vivien Menke, one of Bush's aides.
“I didn't think much of it,” Hapgood said. “I just figured she had some business to conduct with the candidate. He was always dictating letters to her, sending her on errands and what-not. He kept her real busy.” The journalism student then proceeded to his room.
Hapgood said he had just finished his burger when he distinctly heard a gunshot. “I jumped up. For some reason—I don't know why—I grabbed my camera and hurried next door. What ran through my mind was that somebody—maybe Miss Menke—was trying to assassinate Mr. Bush.”
With that, Hapgood said he just “blundered into the murder scene.” What he saw next was, in his words, “the most shocking thing I've ever seen. I saw Miss Menke lying on the floor next to the bed,” Hapgood relates, “naked as the day she was born, and Mr. Bush standing over her, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts with pink elephants on them.” Hapgood said Bush was also wearing his cowboy boots, and as the candidate nervously paced around the room, there was a “jingling” sound. “That's when I looked down and noticed he was wearing spurs.” He also observed that the bed covers were “in a state of disrepair.” Laura Bush was not present in the room.
Hapgood said he reacted automatically and snapped the incriminating photo. Then he remembered the mini cassette recorder. He casually slipped his hand in his pocket and switched it on. Meanwhile, Bush appeared in a state of shock. “I don't think he knew I took his picture,” Hapgood declared. He then remembers asking the candidate what happened.
“He didn't seem to hear me at first.” But after a moment, Bush said, “That woman seduced me. God told me she had the devil in her, so I shot her.”
Bush asked him to close the door. The young journalist complied. “What was I gonna do? He had a gun in his hand,” Hapgood explained.
Apparently, no one else heard the shot. No other members of the press came running. Hapgood remembers asking Bush if he knew where his wife was. “He had a blank look on his face. Then, he said, 'Ah, she's at some goddamn poetry reading at the Public Library.' Then, he called her by a term that I can't repeat,” Hapgood mumbled.
Bush asked him to kneel with him and pray for the salvation of the dead girl. “I was a born-again Christian,” Hapgood stated. “Mr. Bush said he had spoken to God and that he was trying to fulfill God's mission on earth.” So after covering Miss Menke with a bedsheet, Hapgood said he kneeled with the candidate and they prayed for Vivien's soul.
Asked what it was like kneeling with Bush in a strange motel room in Big Spring, Texas, with a dead girl on the floor, Hapgood replied, “Well, it was kind of surreal.” He was with the candidate for about half an hour, during which time, Bush said that if he ever encountered any more evil persons, that he would probably do to them what he did to Vivien.
“He asked me what I thought about that,” Hapgood said, “and I says, 'well, sir, if you're sure that's what God wants.' And he says, 'You're damn right I'm sure. God whispers to me in my ear, and sometimes He calls me up on my cellphone and tells me what He wants.' Then, he looks at me and says, 'Are you an evil person, Clu?' And I says, 'Well, I sure hope not, sir.' And he says, 'For your sake, Clu, I hope you're right.'”
Soon afterward, Hapgood took his leave, promising the candidate that he would not mention what he had seen. To this day, he says he does not know what became of Miss Menke. Five days after that fateful night, someone on the Bush team filed a missing person's report with the Austin Police Department. Thus far, the body of Vivien Menke has not been found.
However, the Austin police were able to locate Miss Menke's mother, and, using Hapgood's photograph, she has positively identified her long missing daughter.
Hapgood said he could not explain why it took him so long to come forward. “I guess I just wanted so much to believe in Mr. Bush as God's man,” he said. “But my conscience kept eating at me all these years, so I finally had to come out with it.” He paused for a moment, seemingly choked up. “She was such a beautiful girl, Miss Menke. It's terrible what he did to her. I still can't believe it. But I know it's true, 'cause I was there and saw it with my own eyes.”
He said he had kept the negative of the photograph and the mini-cassette tape in a cigar box with some buttons and other mementos from the '94 campaign. “I guess I always knew I would come forward some day,” Hapgood said, quietly.
SENATE COMMITTEE FORMED
A bipartisan Senate committee is being assembled to look into the implications of this startling turn of events, to be chaired by Joseph Biden, Democrat from Delaware. Other senators known to be taking part at this time are Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Russ Feingold, of Wisconsin, and Maine Democrat, John Kerry. On the Republican side, thus far, Arizona Senator John McCain has been named to serve, along with Charles Hagel of Nebraska and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Appearing outside his D.C. office on Thursday, Biden told the press, “Well, clearly, this has been a stunning revelation to the country. No one was prepared for this.” Asked what he thought would be the proper course of action, given the possibility that the President may be proved to be a murderer, Biden responded that it was “too early to tell. But, “ he said, “those of us on the committee, and certainly all the members of Congress will be looking at this very closely in the days and weeks to come, and we will be responding appropriately.”
Senator Kerry, para-sailing off the Maine coast, spoke by phone, calling the allegations “shocking and profound.” Pressed further, he said it sounded to him like an “open and shut case,” calling the evidence “unmistakable.”
“We have the President,” he said, “we have the gun in his hand—a smoking gun, mind you. And we have the corpse—the murder victim—right there in the picture. You can see her clearly. You can see the bullet wound, the blood on the floor. We have the man who took the picture. And we have the President—on tape—actually confessing to the crime, and saying he would do it again. Now, that's what we have, and, by golly, that's a lot.”
Asked what he thought should be done, Kerry responded in this way: “Well, clearly, something's gotta be done, and we're gonna have to do it. I'm afraid it won't be very pleasant—for any of us. But this is a historic moment. And we just have to take a real stand, here. For the sake of the law, you know. For the rule of law, that is. I mean, gosh-darn it, this is just too much.”
Meanwhile, Orrin Hatch, stopped as he emerged with his wife from evening vespers at the Church Of The True Believer in D.C., said, “Well, it just looks like another example of liberals trying to make political hay out of something that happened long ago. Can't people be allowed to make mistakes and move on with their lives? Surely, there's a statute of limitations on things like this. Besides, I believe the President has greater powers under the Constitution.”
When it was pointed out that Bush was not the President at the time of the incident, Hatch replied, “Yes, but he was a future president and future presidents ought to be given greater latitude. So long as they stay within the law, of course.”
When it was pointed out that murder is usually considered to be outside the rule of law, Hatch shrugged and replied, “Well, we're in a state of war. And anyway, that girl was a harlot. When you compare his life, the life of a living president, to hers, and you look at what he's achieved up to this point, well, there's just no comparison.”
When it was pointed out that Miss Menke has been dead for twelve years, and therefore unable to achieve much with her life, Hatch muttered something about “bleeding heart liberals,” and stalked away.
Senator Feingold, pausing on the Capitol steps on his way to a vote, said he was indeed shocked at the recent turn of events, but said he would reserve further comments for a scheduled interview on Sunday's Meet The Press. He added that he was attempting to hammer out a last-minute bill censuring the President, but thus far was only able to get about three Democrats to sign on, and no Republicans.
Meanwhile, earlier today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that he would be calling for the arrest of Clu Dallas Hapgood for leaking the photograph to the British press.
We attempted to contact Hapgood again to get his response to the Attorney General's announcement, but he could not be reached and, as of this writing, has not returned our calls. It is believed that Hapgood may have disappeared.