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Arkansan Prods Clinton With His Cartoonist's Wit

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HE'S been called Bill Clinton's most severe critic, even by the newly inaugurated United States president himself. But George Fisher, the Little Rock, Ark., cartoonist who has documented Mr. Clinton's political career with sometimes brutal honesty, says the Arkansas governor cum leader of the free world has publicly acknowledged that "he is a better man for it."

"I don't draw to hurt. I draw to help," says Mr. Fisher, who has been crafting caricatures since World War II, when he was an infantryman in Europe and penned for his regimental newspaper. He became intensely interested in political satire, he says, when Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to fight federal court orders to desegregate the state's schools.

"There was no voice against Faubus, so I went to work." Since then, he says, "I've learned that crises never end. And I haven't kept my pencil sharp. I keep drawing."

While Fisher is accomplished on national and international issues, his most appreciated work these days is his collection of drawings about Clinton that date back to the 1970s. For more than a decade, Fisher estimates, he has drawn more Clinton cartoons than anyone else in the business.

Clinton's political road to the White House began when he was 32 years old, and he became the youngest man ever to be nominated to be governor of his state. By the following year, he held the distinction as the nation's youngest governor. Fisher tracked Clinton's development in the Arkansas Gazette, a leading paper that folded in 1991.

"I used a lot of vehicles in my pictures. At first, he was so young, I put him in a baby buggy, but he didn't take too kindly to that," Fisher recalls. "So I drew him on a tricycle, riding away after he dumped his baby buggy in the trash."

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