On June 3, 1992, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show. When the show commenced, the camera pulled back to reveal that Clinton was the saxophonist with Hall’s house band, “The Posse.”
He segued into a solo of Heartbreak Hotel. “I thought it was embarrassing.” said George H. W. Bush’s press secretary Torie Clarke, “He looked like a sad John Belushi wannabe.”
Clinton talked about the Los Angeles riots. “People that feel like they don’t even exist, to people of other races, until they walk into a department store and people follow them around to make sure they don’t steal anything. But, day in and day out, they get up and they trudge through their lives, they live in substandard housing on unsafe streets, they work their guts out, they fall further behind, and nobody even knows they’re there until there’s a riot. I think that, in the nineties, this whole business of economic empowerment has gotta be at the center of the civil rights movement.”
Hall asked the governor about his admission to CBS that he had smoked marijuana but “didn’t inhale.”
“I took it and I tried to smoke it like a cigarette,” Clinton explained. “I did my best. I wasn’t trying to get a good conduct medal.”
After a commercial break Clinton was joined by his wife Hillary.
“The strength beside the man, not behind anymore, but beside.” Arsenio said, then alluded to the scandal of Clinton’s affair with Little Rock lounge singer Gennifer Flowers, “Through all this controversy, have you ever found yourselves at home fighting, honestly?”
“No,” Hillary said firmly. “Not about anything important. We fight about what movie we want to see.”
“This is the only movie we’re going to see for a month, and you’re going to make me see this crazy cheap thrills movie, you want to go see Lethal Weapon 3 when we’ve got all these other movies on?!” Clinton joked. “That’s the kinda stuff we fight about.”
“It’s hard to think that at some point you never said, ‘Who is Gennifer?’ You know?” Hall pressed Hillary, “‘Who the hell is she?’ And it’s like, you know, I mean…”
“I know who she is,” Hillary replied, “I mean, know who she is.”
“And you know what her problem is?”
“She’s got lots of problems,” Hillary said, smiling thinly.
The audience roared its approval.
When Clinton appeared on Arsenio Hall, the Democratic candidate was trailing Bush on the issue of trustworthiness by 24 points. He went on to win the election with 43% of the vote to Bush’s 38%, the first Baby Boomer president.