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Gallup poll: Clinton popularity at all-time low

PRINCETON, N.J. (CNN) -- The popularity of former President Clinton has plunged in the wake of the pardons controversy to the lowest level ever, results of the latest Gallup Poll showed Friday, while his successor's approval ratings have soared just as dramatically.

In a poll conducted Monday through Wednesday of this week, only 39 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the former president, while 59 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of him. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Clinton's previous low favorable rating was 42 percent, reached in early August 2000 and matched in a poll taken February 19-21, the Gallup Organization said. His previous high unfavorable rating was 55 percent in the February poll.

His favorable rating has fallen 18 percent since early December, while his unfavorable rating has risen by the same amount.

By contrast, the public's opinion of President Bush has climbed since Election Day. In this week's poll, 69 percent of respondents expressed a favorable opinion of Bush while only 28 percent were unfavorable. That compares with 53 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable in a poll taken Nov. 13-15, Gallup said.

Clinton's image has been tarnished in the public's eye by several controversies since election day, the most prominent being several controversial pardons issued during his last hours in office.

Congressional committees and a federal prosecutor are focusing on his pardon of financier Marc Rich. Listed as an international fugitive by the Justice Department, Rich had been indicted in 1983 on tax and fraud charges but left the country before he could stand trial. Investigators have questioned whether contributions made by Rich's ex-wife or fund-raising by a friend of hers may have influence the granting of the pardon.

Questions also have been raised about whether Clinton relatives improperly influenced other pardon decisions.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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