By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The young George W. Bush of the 1970s was a partier, a drinker and — by his own hints in later remarks — a recreational-drug user. There’s long been speculation that he might have skipped a mandatory National Guard physical, in August 1972, to avoid a possible drug test. There’s also doubt about whether he actually completed his service in the Guard.
But that’s getting ahead of the story. In 1971, according to the account, an “agitated” young Bush supposedly called an older family friend. (Flynt calls the friend by the made-up name “Clyde.”) Bush allegedly confessed that he’d gotten his girlfriend pregnant. It was natural that Bush would call Clyde, because Clyde had been “loosely assigned to keep the family black sheep, young W., out of trouble,” as Flynt puts it.
Flynt’s source, “Susan,” told Flynt’s investigators that she was Clyde’s girlfriend at the time. She said she was in the room when the call came from Bush. Clyde allegedly told Bush he’d take care of it, which meant arranging for an abortion. Susan named the hospital, and she named the doctor.
Flynt’s researchers found the doctor and confronted him. The doctor denied having performed an abortion, they reported to Flynt, but oddly enough, he did remember the woman from his own social visits to Chateaux Dijon. He described her “as the best-looking woman” who showed up for parties at the apartment complex.
“My reporters were unable to gain any evidence from the hospital,” writes Flynt. “The institution had been sold several times over the years and their records were spotty.”
Flynt’s account is seconded by some of those involved in the investigation. Flynt’s researchers spent about three months total in Texas trying to obtain documentary confirmation. In interviews with the Weekly, sources who took part in the investigation supplied details not in Flynt’s soon-to-be-published account. They told, for example, how his investigators tracked down Bush’s former girlfriend. They say the woman acknowledged, through her husband, that she had dated Bush for six months. But she also insisted to a friend (who spoke with Flynt’s investigators) that she and Bush never had sex. She said to the same friend that she’d been in the hospital for a dilation and curettage, or D&C, which is surgery involving a scraping of the wall of the uterus. It was a common form of doctor-supervised abortion in the early 1970s. But the woman maintained that her D&C was not an abortion, but for another medical purpose. A D&C is sometimes performed after a miscarriage or in non-pregnant women who have abnormal bleeding, fibroids or polyps.
In other words, the researchers found intriguing circumstantial support, but no proof. The investigators then tried a different tack. “Susan, in an effort to jump-start the investigation, contacted Clyde, told him that some reporters were bugging her about the incident, and asked for his help,” writes Flynt. “She told us that he first casually denied any knowledge of what she was talking about, then in a later conversation, threatened her and told her to keep her mouth shut.”
In interviews with the Weekly, Flynt said he is convinced that the former Bush girlfriend had been bought off. He said that before his investigation, the woman had a low-wage job and her husband was unemployed. After his researchers started poking around, said Flynt, the husband emerged with a well-paid federal law-enforcement job and the family moved into an expensive house in a Texas resort area.
That’s not exactly how some others involved in the investigation analyzed the evidence. The husband was a veteran law-enforcement officer, they said. In other words, it was neither peculiar nor improper that he would hold a job with a federal law-enforcement agency. In addition, the couple was not demonstrably living beyond their economic means. The woman’s husband also seemed surprised to hear about his wife’s alleged 1971 trip to the hospital when confronted, the sources said. This reaction was inconsistent with having been bought off.
You get the sense that Flynt wanted the story out so desperately that his own remembering became a bit skewed. He did, however, ask his researchers to fact-check the details that actually appear in the book. And the allegation about the woman being paid off is not in there.
The researchers finally told Flynt they felt they could take the investigation no further. “They said they didn’t want to waste my money,” said Flynt in an interview, “and I appreciated that.”
As one person directly involved in this investigation said to the Weekly, “Circumstantially, the story made a lot of sense, but none of the major figures were really talking.”
Flynt hoped the national media would take the matter further, perhaps by launching their own probes, or even by just asking Bush a pointed question during a press conference. Flynt called Tim Russert of NBC News, which sent a reporter to Flynt’s office to look over his material. This reporter, said Flynt in an interview, was David Bloom, the same reporter who died of a pulmonary embolism at age 39 while covering the war in Iraq in April 2003. Flynt said Bloom declined to pick up the baton. “He said, ‘Larry, I just can’t do it. Something like this could change the outcome of the election.’”