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Bill Clinton In The House (Of Blues)

By Lauri Apple in News on Nov 12, 2009 8:20PM

clinton.jpg Last night Eyewitness News Chicagoist went to the House of Blues to hear Bill Clinton talk about the Millennium Network: an effort to involve folks under 45 in the public service work undertaken by his William J. Clinton Foundation. In addition to remarks by the OG President Hopey (Arkansas, represent), the fancy fund-raising event included a performance by Common and platters of spring rolls served with a delightful sauce.

We spent the evening sequestered on a balcony with other press people, because the party-pooping Secret Service made us all stay there, wahhhhh. Prevented from mingling with the business-suited attendees below, we sat with the photogs and camera peeps drinking bottled waters and cranberry juice. The lights were too dim for us to read our book, so we spent the first hour at the HOB making up sarcastic/stupid captions to go along with the photos being projected above the stage. "Bill Clinton models a black polo shirt." "Now Bill Clinton models a red polo shirt." "Bill Clinton taught this smiling woman how to make cheesecake with his quick and simple recipe." "Bill Clinton built Times Square, then made this other smiling woman her brand-new pink hat just by concentrating very hard." When we got bored with this pointless exercise we watched the people in the audience mingle and text, mingle and text. But then that got boring too, so we went back to watching the picture show again.

A little after 10 p.m., the lights went dark and then Clinton came out, wearing not a polo shirt but a dark suit. He looked fit and happy as he spoke about some of the world-changing projects he's been able to work on through his Foundation, from combating climate change to supplying 25% of Haiti with electricity for less than $750,000. He spoke of the importance of "doing public good in a private capacity" and the growth of foundations worldwide — 500,000 new ones since he took office in 1993. He shared inspirational stories of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda — "astonishing people living in tomorrow, in the spirit of reconciliation" — overcoming their tragic past to work together to improve their quality of life. And he talked about the $55 billion in commitments his Clinton Global Initiative has been able to secure for projects that have created jobs, improved public health, protected forests, and increased access to education, potable water and other necessities of life.

Clinton closed his speech with a message of empowerment: "I want you to believe that the future belongs to you," he told the crowd of 450. Clearly, he has shown by example that one person can make a difference. Now, if he can just save Lindsay Lohan ...