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Old 01-14-2010, 05:32 PM
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ilbegone ilbegone is offline
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The King, part three

Quote:
"I'll look into it," Krogh promises.

Elvis is crestfallen, visibly wilted under the weight of all that gold, a man who could have anything -- cars, women, houses -- except the one thing he wants most.

Nixon takes one look at him and caves.

"Get him the badge."

Elvis is so excited he gives the president a big hug.

"Will you meet my friends?" he asks. Schilling and Sonny West, another of the Memphis Mafia who somehow showed up at the hotel that morning, are waiting in an outer office.

"Come on in, you guys," Elvis says cheerfully. He introduces his rather tall friends to Nixon, who sizes them up, hands on hips, and says, "You got a couple of big ones here, Elvis." They all pose for pictures.

Then it's time for gifts. Elvis pulls out the commemorative Colt 45 he had taken from his wall and carried into the White House, to the dismay of the Secret Service. ("We've got a little problem here; Elvis has brought a gun.") He presents it to Nixon.

The president moves over to a drawer of presents he keeps on the left side of his desk, its contents organized in order of increasing value: golf balls, pens, paperweights in front, and way in the back, 16-karat gold pendants, lapel pins and brooches. Nixon peruses the drawer with Elvis peeking over his shoulder. He pulls out gifts for Schilling and West.

"You know, Mr. President, they have wives," Elvis says. Nixon goes back for more. Elvis motions to the 16-karat stuff. (Schilling's wife still has her brooch.)

It's time to go. The two men agree their meeting is best kept a secret. Nixon is sinking in the polls, Elvis is working on his comeback, and neither of their constituencies was likely to understand. The Leader of the Free World and the King of Rock 'n' Roll say their goodbyes.

For 13 months, the secret is safe. Not a security guard or a staffer, not any of the men with whom Elvis shook hands or the women he kissed when aides took him down to the White House mess for lunch afterward, breathe a word.

It wasn't until columnist Jack Anderson got hold of the galleys of a memoir by Deputy Narcotics Director John Finlator that the news broke: "Elvis Presley, the swivel-hipped singer, has been issued a federal narcotics badge."

Epilogue: Nixon resigned from office under threat of impeachment 3 1/2 years later, on Aug. 9, 1974. When he was subsequently hospitalized with phlebitis, Elvis called to wish him well.

Elvis died at age 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, of a heart attack; 14 prescription drugs were found in his system. Nixon later noted in his friend's defense that those were not illegal drugs.

Schilling wrote a book, "Me and a Guy Named Elvis."

Krogh wrote one too, but "The Day Elvis Met Nixon" is mostly pictures. He also spent four months in prison for his role in the White House plumbers scandal.

Chapin served nearly eight months and Haldeman 18 months for their part in the Watergate coverup.

The commemorative gun is on display at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.

The badge, specially prepared by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs with Elvis' name on it, hangs in his home in Graceland, on the Wall of Gold.
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