Chris Stirewalt at Fox

WHAT WAS BUBBA UP TO?
It’s no wonder the Clintons had so many special counsels and investigators trolling through their administration.

If Bill Clinton doesn’t have better sense than to be spotted going into a private conversation with the woman in charge of the department investigating his wife for mishandling state secrets, it’s surprising he didn’t end up with more Ken Starrs.

The lesson of the Clinton administration, well learned by the 42nd president’s successors, has been to avoid outside investigators at almost all cost. An independent probe poking around, say, a shady land deal in Arkansas can end up with a blue dress in an evidence bag.

But by the decision of the former president and the current Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to meet in private aboard her government jet as the two crossed paths at the Phoenix airport Monday they may have made a special prosecutor inevitable.

Not only is de facto Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the subject of a criminal probe by Lynch’s department, the former president himself is a figure in the case.

It was, after all, his server on which the then-secretary of state housed her off-the-books email operation. He and his technology team are presumably material to any potential case. One would imagine that in the process of all of his legal woes as well as his time as Arkansas’ attorney general, he certainly learned better.

Surely Lynch, herself, knew a 30-minute private meeting with the spouse of the subject of a criminal investigation, no matter how famous or politically connected, is a no-go. So what the heck is going on?

Two theories present themselves.

First, and as Occam’s razor suggests, it was pure nincompoopery. Bill Clinton has a gift for screwing up his wife’s presidential campaigns. It’s been bad enough in the past that some have even suggested an unconscious desire to sabotage his wife and preserve his own legacy.

His motives, witting or unwitting for such a blunder aside, the Lynch debacle puts us in mind of moments like the former president’s angry reaction to his wife’s 2008 South Carolina primary defeat or any number of gaffes. Bubba may be Hillary Clinton’s greatest asset, but he has consistently proven himself to be one of her greatest liabilities.

There is a second possibility, though.

We ought always to be careful about conspiracy theories, but smart, calculating people doing something so bogglingly foolish does invite the consideration of other possibilities.

The much anticipated recommendation from the FBI to Lynch about a potential prosecution is expected in the next several weeks. Why would Bill Clinton, or Lynch for that matter, do anything to call attention to the case?

Indulge us if you will, in wondering whether the former president might be engaging in that old lawyer’s trick of spoiling a case to get a continuance.

Lynch said today that she would absolutely hold the line and allow the “career professionals” and the FBI and Department of Justice to render their own decision on whether Hillary Clinton or her familiars would be prosecuted.

Republicans already are calling for a special prosecutor and given the glaring impropriety of the Bubba-Lynch meeting one supposes there will be other, less partisan, suggestions that Lynch might want to recuse herself from the proceedings.

But while special prosecutors are no doubt troublesome for presidents and politicians, they do have the advantage of being slowwww…

Bear with us here, but, if the Clintons’ believed that charges were imminent, forcing law enforcement to start over with a new outside counsel would push any findings not just past the November election, but potentially as much as two years down the road.

That would buy time not only for politics but to formulate new strategies for either ruining the next investigator or blowing up the charges themselves.

Given the former president’s penchant for making advantageous errors, let’s not rule out this less likely of the two scenarios.