Attention Kitsch-Mart Shoppers

Enterprising Americans take advantage of the Web and the Lewinsky scandal to try and make a buck.

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President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky are officially an item. A shopping item that is. Entrepreneurs across America are using the Internet to sell sex-scandal souvenirs, from “ForniGate ’98” T-shirts to denim baseball hats embroidered with “A Right Wing Conspiracy.”

But, the most original offering has to be Presidential KneepadsTM. For just $6.95, you can be the proud owner of this unlikely pair, hand-painted with Old Glory stars and stripes. “I’m doing it [the business] out of my bedroom,” says Gary Noar, co-president of Presidential Kneepads. Noar, a computer information systems major at California’s Humboldt State University, thinks the venture is a good way to test a Web-based business.

Sales haven’t quite gotten off the ground—Noar reports “only a few” sales so far. But he’s hoping some media attention (including, presumably, ours) will help move the kneepads. “We’ve sent them out to Leno and Letterman,” he says. No, no response yet.

While the Franklin Mint has yet to offer any limited-edition china to commemorate the alleged affair, there are plenty of keepsakes to choose from:

Item #1: Presidential KneepadsTM
Description: Kneepads decorated with stars and stripes.
Sales pitch: “Good for any task requiring long-term kneeling.”
Price: $6.95 a pair.
Available at: http://www.prezpad.com
Item #2: “ForniGate ’98” T-shirt
Description: “Clinton/Lewinsky ’98” printed on the left breast and “Fornigate ’98” on the back.
Selling pitch: “Lets everyone know what Bill is doing in the White House!”
Price: $12.95
Available at: http://www.balamara.com/fornigate/index.html
Item #3: ZipperGate ’98* T-shirts and sweatshirts
Description: One has picture of Clinton giving the thumbs-up as Monica stands naked behind him. Caption: “But, did she inhale?” Another has a simple bust of Clinton. Caption: “It’s not immoral if it’s only oral.”
Sales Pitch: All shirts have “our now famous ZipperGate ’98 graphics.”
Price: $10.95-12.95 for T-shirt, $16.95 for sweatshirt
Available at: http://www.petgone.com/zipper/
* Copyright applied for
Item #4: A Right Wing ConspiracyTM polo shirt and and denim hat
Description: “A Right Wing Conspiracy” embroidered on left breast of white polo shirt and front of denim baseball cap. Classy, conservative.
Sales pitch: “Please don’t take this site too seriously.”
Price: $18.50 for shirt, $13.00 for hat
Available at: http://www.arightwingconspiracy.com/
Item #5: “Got Milk?” T-shirt
Description: Low-budget artwork of the dynamic duo. But where’s the milk mustache?
Sales Pitch: “A picture is worth a thousand words and our T-shirts tell it all.”
Price: $12.99
Available at: http://www.monicaandbill.com

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WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

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