On Monday’s World News, ABC showed a letter written to Barack Obama that made a snide crack charging that President Bush and Vice President Cheney had left Obama a "hell of a mess to clean up," and sarcastically expressing hope that Bush and Cheney would not steal furniture from the White House, as correspondent Kate Snow filed a report about a former school teacher, B.J. Hill, who has spent a year walking across the country collecting letters from Americans for the next President. Of the five letters Hill was shown reading during the report, all came across as either pro-Obama or at least phrased from a liberal point-of-view, one even expressing a desire that the next President would "save science, including stem cell research," presumably referring to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. But while no letters expressed any concerns about what Obama would do from a conservative point of view, one of the letters did take a shot at President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Hill, reading: "You have one hell of a mess to clean up after Bush and Cheney. I hope they leave some of the furniture."
Notably, when Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in January of 2001, furniture was taken from the White House and had to be returned. A list of items removed by the Clintons can be found here. As documented in the February 12, 2001, CyberAlert by the MRC's Brent Baker: "Even after being questioned by the chief usher at the White House who believed the furniture belonged to the mansion, not the Clintons personally, Bill and Hillary Clinton began shipping furniture from the White House to their New Castle (Chappaqua), New York home in January 2000, the Washington Post revealed in a front page story on Saturday [February 10, 2001]."
And, as previously documented by the February 13, 2001, CyberAlert, on the Monday, February 12, 2001, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Lisa Myers reported: "In more damage control today, Senator Hillary Clinton blames a bookkeeping error for the fact that 16 pieces of White House furniture, all government property, were sent to the Clintons' New York home, then had to be returned." Then came a soundbite of Hillary Clinton: "We thought we were doing the right thing, they thought they were doing the right thing, and apparently there were some cataloging errors made seven or eight years ago. They’re sorting those out, and, you know, it’s all going to be all, you know, worked out."
Below is a complete transcript of the report filed by Kate Snow from the Monday, December 22, World News with Charles Gibson:
CHARLES GIBSON: Finally tonight, if you could tell the President-elect one thing, what would it be? Well, back in March, a 32-year-old Boston teacher quit his job and started walking across the country from San Francisco back to Boston, asking people just that. When he started, the messages were "Dear Mr. or Ms. President." Since November, they've been more specific, but throughout they have been heartfelt. Here's Kate Snow.
KATE SNOW: We met up with B.J. Hill around mile 3,900 just as he was crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey. He's been snapping photos since he took that first step in San Francisco last March across the Western Plains, down to the South, up the Mid Atlantic, about 15 miles a day, rain or shine – or now snow or sleet. The top three questions that you get asked all the time?
B.J. HILL, FORMER TEACHER: Where I started, where I'm ending, why I'm doing it, and if I'm permitted a fourth one, how many shoes I've gone through.
SNOW: How many?
HILL: Yeah. This is pair number seven.
HILL, TALKING TO A GROUP OF MEN: Would you guys like to write something down?
SNOW: So back to why he's doing this.
HILL: The short version is, concerned citizen.
SNOW: All along the journey, B.J. has collected messages for the next President in leather-bound journals.
HILL, READING A LETTER: "Mr. President, I did not vote for you, but I will support you."
SNOW: The entries are snapshots in time, fragments of American lives. Last summer, the big complaint was high gas prices. Now, it's "save my job". Some are sarcastic.
HILL, READING A LETTER: "You have one hell of a mess to clean up after Bush and Cheney. I hope they leave some of the furniture."
SNOW: Some are poignant.
HILL, READING A LETTER: "Save science, including stem cell research, for my daughter's future."
SNOW: Most are hopeful.
HILL, READING LETTER: "Dear President Obama, I believe that hope is not a touchy-feely, vapid catch phrase of an emotion. I believe that hope is a profound belief that things can be better."
SNOW: B.J. says he's seen the American spirit up close on this trip.
WOMAN: Are you hungry? Do you want-
HILL: Yeah, yeah, I'm pretty hungry.
HILL: I mean, I wish there was a camera following me over my shoulder and just seeing, like, the generosity and the kindness that, you know, that I’ve found.
SNOW: He's been couch-surfing, staying on strangers' sofas when he's not in a tent. His goal, to get those journals to President Obama's bedside table.
HILL, READING LETTER: "Mr. President, do not expect to win all the time, but don't get discouraged."
HILL: I would like to think that he would be simply inspired to do more.
SNOW: Bits of inspiration gathered up over thousands of miles. Kate Snow, ABC News, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
GIBSON: And you can post your own message for the President-elect at our Web site, ABCNews.com.