Bill, stars enjoy African trek
CALL it "The Three Amigos' Most Excellent African Adventure."
Former President Bill Clinton is on a trip through Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique and South Africa with Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker, the star of "Rush Hour" and its sequel.
The three are being flown around Africa on the private plane of financial wizard Jeffrey Epstein. The secretive Epstein handles the billions of Leslie Wexner, head of the retail empire that includes The Limited, Victoria's Secret and Express.
How Clinton, who took off on Saturday, hooked up with his traveling companions is a mystery - as is his relationship to Epstein. Little is known about Epstein except that his offices are in the landmarked Villard House across from Le Cirque, and he once employed Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late British press lord Robert Maxwell, in an unspecified capacity.
But Tucker is playing America's first black president in "Mr. President," a movie he's been working on since 1999. Tucker has already shot footage of Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Bahrain's crown prince endorsing his candidacy, and the comic accompanied U2 frontman Bono and Treasury Secrtary Paul O'Neill on their debt-relief tour of Africa this summer.
At the Congressional Black Caucus' annual awards dinner earlier this month, Clinton mentioned that Tucker had asked to visit him in the Oval Office to prepare for playing the first black president.
"I didn't have the heart to tell him that I've already taken the position," Clinton joked. In an October 1998 essay in The New Yorker, author Toni Morrison argued that Clinton, "white skin notwithstanding, [is] our first black president."
Kevin Spacey has no presidential aspirations we know of. Last we heard, he wanted to portray Bobby Darin. He might be bored during some parts of the trip.
In Ghana, Clinton will launch a new initiative with Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto to give deeds and land titles to poor people who now have no legal status and are considered squatters.
In South Africa, Clinton will deliver a speech and join Mandela in promoting prevention of AIDS. Clinton will also meet in that country with the first class of Clinton Democracy Fellows - 11 young South African men and women who just completed three months in the U.S.
Clinton will also meet with the presidents of the other nations on his itinerary.