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Who says l’affaire Lewinsky is a blight on American democracy? Eager to exercise their right to free trade, no fewer than six companies slaved to rush out unedited video copies of President Clinton’s Aug. 17 grand jury testimony, made public Sept. 21. And judging by advance sales by Internet retailers, the populace is feverish for a civics lesson.

The leading distributor seems to be MPI, the outfit behind the controversial Image of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film. CEO Waleed Ali expects ”to move 200 [thousand] or 250,000 units” of the Clinton tape (list price: $14.98), an estimate based both on early orders for 150,000 copies and Ali’s judgment that ”the American people want to see it without a lot of third-rate opinion and commentary.” Sure enough, at press time MPI’s video was Amazon.com’s best-selling product. Meanwhile, a version by UAV is No. 3 at Reel.com, behind No. 1 — the mash-note-inspiring Titanic.

On the high-tech front, NetFlix. com reports 10,000 preorders for a DVD edition, priced — in an effort to draw new customers — at 2 cents (plus S&H). Divided into 99 chapters, the user-friendly disc enables the viewer to bypass hours of tedious inquisition and skip straight to the naughty bits. That armchair historians can fast-forward to menu options like ”Clinton avoids questions on oral sex” strikes a positive note for freedom of choice.

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