Bill Clinton used his old silver tongue during a surprise trip to Pyongyang today, and the egotistical despot Kim Jong Il promptly announced he is pardoning journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee — who some experts had predicted faced many years of hard labor in a horrific North Korean prison.

An Associated Press scoop this afternoon announced that the dictator is going to let them go free. Lee and Ling, Los Angeles-based journalists who worked out of the Hollywood offices of Current TV, were arrested March 17 after crossing over the North Korean-Chinese border while taping stories about North Korean refugees.

It's hard to tell from these early reports by AP and the Wall Street Journal, and it may never be known, whether Clinton said something to change the bizarre dictator's mind. Or — much more likely — whether this was just another long-planned act in Kim Jong Il's weird grab-bag of sweeping gestures he uses to get the global media attention over which he so clearly obsesses.

This is a guy who really makes your skin crawl.

Either way, a lot of friends and family in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other areas (especially Al Gore and Mitchell Koss), will be incredibly glad to see these two women back on U.S. soil. If they make a documentary now, it will be stunning — and in first person.

LA Weekly