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Did George W take drugs?

September 10, 2004 13:41 IST

Kitty Kelley is no stranger to controversy.

She has, in the past, written gossip-filled books on everyone from Frank Sinatra to the British royal family, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. It was her biography of Nancy Reagan in 1991, however, that led to the biggest scandals about a woman who 'ruled the White House with a Gucci-clad fist.'

While that story was later said to have been a mistake, Kelley is hot property once more, thanks to The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. It is the kind of book that will give some Republicans sleepless nights. Lurid allegations are guaranteed, as are massive sales, all of which is worrying with the Presidential elections pretty much round the corner.

The White House has already dismissed the book as 'garbage' and 'fiction.' A story in The Washington Post quotes Communications Director Dan Bartlett saying that the writer's allegations 'make Michael Moore look like a factual documentarian.'

Needless to say, Kitty Kelley is basking in the glow of media scrutiny. She has already been booked for a number of television interviews. According to her editor Peter Gethers, the book contains, among a whole lot of other things, allegations of past drug use by President Bush, citing quotes from his former sister-in-law, Sharon Bush.

But Sharon Bush, who was married to the president's younger brother Neil, denied she told Kelley about George W and drugs.

'I categorically deny I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David,' Sharon Bush said in a statement. 'When Kitty Kelley raised drug use at Camp David, I responded by saying something along the lines of, 'Who would say such a thing?"'

A story carried by London's The Mail on Sunday has only added to the hype, on the Internet as well as radio. Random House's Doubleday imprint, which will publish the book, has ordered an initial printing of 750,000 copies.

Not everyone's waiting with bated breath, of course. Some have attacked Kelly, saying that she falsely maligned Ronald Reagan as a date rapist, and Nancy Reagan as an adulterer. The White House says it will not let her work go unanswered either, adding that it would violate journalistic standards for executives to 'put this type of trash in their newspapers and on their airwaves.'

The author and her editor are unperturbed though. The latter calls Kelly a fearless reporter, adding that tackling a sitting president and former president of the US is no laughing matter. We agree.

rediff International News bureau