NEW YORK—Citing curiosity as his primary motive, Bill Clinton typed his own name into the popular search engine Google.com during a lull in his daily activities, the former president reported Monday.
"I had no idea I would get 2,790,000 results!" Clinton said while seated before the Apple PowerBook in his Harlem office. "Besides all the news articles, there were encyclopedia entries, links to Amazon for books about me, and tons of photos, too. I even came across some frame captures from those Rock The Vote shows I did back in 1992. I'm going to take a couple of those and make them my desktop picture, once I figure out how to tile them."
Although Clinton said he'd always assumed there was material about him on the Internet, his busy schedule prevented him from exploring it sooner.
"When I was president, people would sometimes mention an article about me on Slate or CNN.com, but I was too busy to read about myself then," Clinton said. "Out of the blue, though, I thought I'd just see what was out there in cyberspace about me. I'd just been sitting around playing online Mah Jongg, anyway. "
"I never knew there was a Bill Clinton Joke-A-Day site," Clinton said after opening his Internet browser, typing in "Bill Clinton," and clicking the "I'm feeling lucky" button.
"I should forward this to Hillary," Clinton said. "She'd get a kick out of some of these. Hmm… She might not find that one too funny."
After quickly closing the page, Clinton said he was surprised by the number of humor sites devoted to him.
"I found a Clinton-sex crossword puzzle, a web site for something called the 'Clinton Dance,' and this one where you can warp my face," Clinton said. "My favorite site was Sincerelybill.com, where you can make a video of me saying stuff. I sent one to [Clinton's former Secretary of Agriculture] Dan Glickman. It said, 'I'm a consideration. We've testified to watching inappropriate neighbors.' He's gonna love that."
"There's only about 200 words to choose from, so it's a little weird," Clinton added.
Clinton said he was delighted to find content about himself on several of the sites he regularly visits, like Infoplease.com and Encyclopedia.com.
"I never knew that I was on the Internet Movie Database," Clinton said. "I'm just a politician, not an actor, but there are 76 movies in my filmography. They have me down for JAG and Bill Clinton: Rock & Roll President. Officially, I'm listed as Jodie Foster's co-star for my appearance in Contact. That's pretty cool."
Clinton said his web search left him nostalgic for his presidency.
"My years in the White House were such a whirlwind that it's hard to remember all the stuff that happened," Clinton said. "But going through these pages really brings back the good times. I found some really nice pictures of Al [Gore] and me on there, and some cute ones of Buddy."
"There are so many articles, too. I want to read them all," Clinton said. "Well, some are kinda boring. But it's still amazing, just to see how much information is out there. They have where I went to college, my favorite foods, my parents' names. It's wild."
Clinton added that, as he progressed through the pages devoted to himself, he found some "other Bill Clintons."
"There's this other Bill Clinton who's a big Hendrix fan," Clinton said. "There's another one that books gay cruises, and another one that ran for county coroner in Iowa. There are a lot of other guys with my name out there, all across America. Kinda neat, huh?"
The former president said he refined his search by entering "William Jefferson Clinton" and "42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton," into Google, but the combinations returned results much like those from his original search.
Clinton then started to add qualifiers, searching for "Bill Clinton + my inspiration" and "Bill Clinton + sax."
"The 'Clinton + hot' search was disappointing," Clinton said. "It turned up a few Arkansas tourism pages that listed Hot Springs [AR] as 'The hometown of Bill Clinton.' Or it brought up porn sites that had nothing to do with me."
Clinton said he considered the use of other search engines, like Ask Jeeves, but ultimately decided to do so only after he's satisfied that no new information can be found on Google.
"I've only gone through the first couple hundred web sites, and I still haven't used the 'groups' or the 'directory' search options," Clinton said. "I'll probably do that next. I remember I once stumbled on a chat room devoted to discussions about my presidency. Maybe I should pose as a conservative Republican and find out what people really think about me. That might be fun."