This month marks the 25th anniversary of President Bill Clinton's landslide victory over incumbent George H.W. Bush. But not everybody was thrilled about the former Arkansas governor's triumph. Clinton lost the support of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson over marijuana, according to the new HBO documentary 'Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge'.
No, the Democratic nominee and the counterculture icon weren't accusing each other of bogarting a joint. Clinton didn't inhale, after all. And he didn't want anyone else doing it either. That was the message candidate Clinton hoped to spread when he sat down with Thompson and a few other writers for a Rolling Stone interview.
"Hunter had his own list of questions about gun laws but also drug laws," Rolling Stone writer William Greider recalled in an interview taped for the documentary. "Clinton wanted that interview to make it very clear he was not your standard brand liberal who was for smoking dope."
And that didn't go over well with Thompson, who was a daily smoker.
"Hunter was so offended, he gets up from the table, he came back in about 15 minutes with a tall drink, and he never asked another question. It was like, 'Interview was over for me — you showed me who you really are.'"
In fact, Thompson compared Clinton to Caligula at one point in the interview. To understand his bitterness, you have to keep in mind that Thompson liked Clinton so much earlier in the campaign that he gifted the Democratic candidate with "a couple of high-quality French saxophone reeds." (No word on whether or not one of those reeds was used during Clinton's famous sax set on The Arsenio Hall show.)
And Thompson's animosity toward Clinton grew over the years to the point that he called the former president a "poison scumbag" and an "evil disaster" among other things in a later interview.