Clinton whines and dines staff

DOES being reprimanded by President Bill Clinton automatically entitle the offender to an apology and a fancy dinner later? For Wendy Smith, the White House aide in charge of the President's travel plans last week, it certainly did.

After she was scolded by Clinton at Lambert-St Louis International Airport for misplacing his briefcase, her name was added to those of a small group of White House staff members who joined the President at an expensive French restaurant in Washington for a private dinner.

White House aides said the dinner was an example of how Clinton, who can lose his temper in a flash, usually goes out of his way to make amends.

Now Andrew Friendly, another White House staff member, may be wondering whether it is his turn. Just before Clinton boarded a flight on Monday from Vail to Tulsa he was heard yelling at Friendly.

White House aides later said the President was upset because he wanted to make some telephone calls and blamed Friendly for not having a cellular phone immediately available.