G Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent who masterminded the Watergate burglary on behalf of Richard Nixon, once said that he would like to kill John Dean by shoving a pencil through his neck.
This week, as the cerebral Mr Dean publishes Worse than Watergate: the Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, the sentiment is likely to be shared by many in Mr Bush's White House.
Thirty-one years ago Mr Dean - Nixon's legal counsel - began co-operating with prosecutors into the Watergate burglary, revealing the inner workings of the most secretive and manipulative administration in American history.
Now, in the latest political blockbuster, Mr Dean "testifies" against President Bush and Vice-President Richard Cheney, accusing them of trumping his former boss when it comes to political sharp practice.
He accuses them of wilfully misleading Congress over the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the war in Iraq, and of "stonewalling" over inquiries into the events of September 11.
Much of the blame for the White House style, he suggests, lies with Mr Cheney, who is "by nature a secretive man" who "wants to turn the clock back to pre-Watergate styles of Imperial Presidency".
Mr Dean also claims that the administration's aggressive approach to rebels and mavericks follows a Nixonian pattern, while being even more ruthless. He cites the "outing" of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer whose husband, Joe Wilson, rejected administration claims that Saddam had attempted to buy uranium from Niger.
"When it comes to dealing with dissenters and those willing to speak the truth," said Mr Dean, "this administration is putting Nixon to shame."
He adds: "If Nixon was a member of this administration, he would be scratching his head at what they are up to. He was obsessively secretive - and became so increasingly about national security matters - and overstepped the mark. But only over Watergate. Other than that he was relatively open. But this White House takes secrecy and political expediency as its general mode of operation."
Mr Dean was summarily fired by Nixon and later served four months in jail for obstructing the inquiry into a plot to burgle the offices of the Democratic National Committee.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004