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As the Scandal Turns: Clinton, Obama, Rezko and Whitewater

Is this is a small world, or what?

Just two days ago, on a java-sipping Sunday morning, Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson and Obama campaign strategist David Alexrod were going at it on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopolous" over strange real estate deals. Wolfson was in his element, firing away at Barack Obama for his land deal with accused swindler Tony Rezko; Alexrod said Hillary Rodham Clinton should be the last person "wanting to characterize any real estate transaction as unusual" -- a none too subtle reference to Clinton's Whitewater woes.

Cut to Monday: Rezko's extortion and money laundering trial began in Chicago. And who should be presiding as federal judge?

Judge Amy J. St. Eve at a federal court in Chicago
A sketch of Antoin 'Tony' Rezko's appearance before federal Judge Amy J. St. Eve at a federal court in Chicago, Monday, March 3, 2008." (The Associated Press - Verna Sadock)

None other than Amy St. Eve, the youthful and diminutive former protégé of Ken Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel.

St. Eve was a deputy on Starr's prosecution team in Little Rock, Ark., that convicted Jim and Susan McDougal, famed former pals and business partners of the Clintons in that really unusual -- to paraphrase Axelrod -- Whitewater real estate deal.

St. Eve has made quite a name for herself as a federal judge since being appointed by President Bush in 2002 at the age of 36.

And not just because the blog Underneath Their Robes nominated her as one of the top "superhotties of the federal judiciary" in a 2004 contest. (They had a competition for male hotties of the federal bench, too.) The blog quoted one its devotees as saying St. Eve is "so cute, you can't believe she's a judge!"

But to Chicago lawyers, the "hottie" is a top-notch, no-nonsense jurist who runs a tight ship, as reported in this profile of St. Eve by the Financial Post.

Among St. Eve's biggest hits: presiding over the trial of medial mogul Conrad Black, another notch in the belt of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who -- ironically -- has given Obama one of his premiere talking points against the Bush administration, thanks to his conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. In fact, Obama regularly vows, if he's elected president, to bring an end to "Scooter Libby justice" -- a reference to Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence.

Now, closing the loop on this head-spinning seven degrees of political scandal separation, Fitzgerald, whose office is prosecuting Rezko, could give Clinton a "Tony Rezko justice" talking point.

Depending, of course, on how Judge St. Eve rules.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 4, 2008; 2:22 PM ET
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