COLUMN: White House pranks not amusing

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Many things former President Bill Clinton have done disgusted me, but my personal approval rating of Slick Willy dropped even lower due to the “surprise” the Clinton team left behind for President George W. Bush.

Bush aides moving into their new offices found broken glass desktops, keyboards doused with fluids and phone number identification tags switched, according to the Associated Press.

Although Bush has downplayed the damage, NBC News reported Friday that phone lines were cut, drawers were filled with glue, obscene messages were left on copying machine paper and door locks were jimmied so that Bush staff members got locked inside their new offices.

Air Force One glasses and hand towels were stolen by passengers traveling with the Clinton’s on their last plane ride home to New York, according to NBC News.

Departing Clinton aides also removed all the “W’s” on White House keyboards.

Fortunately, an Ohio office supply company has already donated 500 replacement “W’s.”

Of course, taxpayers will be footing the bill for the repair and replacement of the other vandalized materials.

A few things the Bush aides found were actual harmless pranks, such as an outgoing answering machine message that said, “This is Al Gore’s office. Due to a constitutional crisis, I’ll be out for the next four years.”

But this was one of the few tame examples of what Bush’s staff had waiting for them. Clinton’s staff should have restrained themselves to cute pranks that don’t do damage to government property.

Along with the money lost in destroyed office supplies, valuable time has been wasted at a time when the incoming administration has plenty to do. The vandalism has slowed down the Bush team’s ability to work and communicate.

According to NBC News, Clinton officials blame the vandalism on bitter low-level staffers who are angry that Democrat Al Gore lost the election.

But destroying government property is illegal. An investigation should occur and the vandals responsible for the mess should pay for the cleanup.

Taking this action would not be overreacting to mere pranks.

Even Robert Reich, former Clinton labor secretary, and Joe Lockhart, former Clinton press secretary, have said they’re concerned and vandalism should not be tolerated.

We can’t just sit back and watch government employees toss taxpayer money out the window because they need a good laugh.

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