Bing hailed as hero in Clinton’s Korean rescue
Al Gore has revealed that the film mogul Steve Bing played a key role in Bill Clinton’s mercy dash to Pyongyang this week
Bill Clinton is not the only one to earn international kudos from his rescue mission to Pyongyang this week. It has emerged that Clinton's mercy dash to bring home the jailed American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee was partly bankrolled by the Hollywood producer and erstwhile playboy Steve Bing.
When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, her husband was asked by the White House to cut certain business ties that could undermine her international standing. Luckily for President Barack Obama, however, Clinton was able to keep up his friendships with the various film producers, corporate executives and former foreign leaders who make up his inner circle of FOBs – 'Friends of Bill'.
They have proved themselves good friends indeed - and given both Clinton and Obama unique help in a diplomatic crisis where it was important the President kept a distance in case the delicate negotiations with Kim Jong-il's regime went awry.
A long-time friend, Steve Bing provided the Boeing 737 which flew Clinton and his aides to North Korea, and also paid the $200,000 fuel bill. Bing's role was revealed by Al Gore, Clinton's former vice-president and co-founder of the news channel, Current TV, for which Lee and Ling were working when they arrested on the Chinese border with North Korea and accused of entering the Communist state illegally.
"To Steve Bing and all the folks who have made the flight possible, we say a word of thanks, deep thanks, as well," said Gore. Those "folks" also included Dow Chemical chief executive Andrew Liveris who laid on the plane that carried Clinton from his home in New York to Burbank, California, where the Bing bird was waiting.
The revelation does Bing's reputation no harm. Despite his significant donations to the Clinton Foundation, the billionaire is still best known in the media as the father of actress Liz Hurley's son, Damian. When Hurley named Bing as the baby's father in 2001 he denied it, only to be proved wrong by a DNA test. Since then he has made generous amounts of child support, reportedly earning the nickname 'Bing Laden' among Hurley's circle.