Lying Al Gore: Will the Puff Pieces End?
by L. Brent Bozell III
March 6, 1997
Al Gore is the anti-Quayle. From the day he was added to the Clinton ticket, reporters have presented Gore as the cerebral antithesis of his predecessor, as well as half of the "gold dust twins" (Time magazine). So Bob Woodward's March 2 Washington Post story exposing Gore as the Democrats' "solicitor-in-chief," an aggressive shakedown artist of business donors, must have come as a shock.
Weird, isn't it, that Gore seems to be getting his first vetting more than four years into his vice presidency? Within hours of Dan Quayle's announcement, the same reporters had pored over his draft record, his report cards, his resume, his golf trips, and his financial statements - and they got much of it wrong. Yet nobody's investigated Al Gore's military record - the strangely shortened six-month tour as a reporter in Vietnam. Special privileges invoked? Nobody cares. Lying to a nationwide convention audience about your sister's death spurring you to fight the tobacco menace? Nobody cares.
Gore the environmentalist making $20,000 a year in zinc mining royalties? Nobody cares. Even worse, getting it from Occidental Petroleum, part of the the cozily slimy relationship between the Gore family and the Soviet stooge Armand Hammer. In his book, "Dossier," Edward Jay Epstein noted a Whitewater-style deal between Al Gore Sr. and Hammer: "In 1950, Hammer had made Congressman Gore a partner in a cattle-breeding business, and Gore made a substantial profit." (Gore the Elder later worked directly for Hammer for $500,000 a year.) This might explain why young Al wrote to Dad that anti-communism was a "psychological ailment," a "national madness." Hammer's business interests in communist countries were a family cash cow!
Al Gore had to be feeling invincible the past few years. Reporters ignored his cronies leaning on the Immigration and Naturalization Service to help left-wing Latino groups cram aliens through the machinery to vote Democratic. The networks and news magazines ignored Gore's bizarre Buddhist temple fundraiser - until after the election. Even as Gore's initial story crumbled into obvious lying, these outlets ignored or downplayed it.
For years, the regular pattern for the Democratic Party press was to pile on the puff pieces for the heir apparent, with his mammoth brain, his bottomless compassion, his self-deprecating Macarena. Last September, Time and Newsweek competed to see who could slobber over Gore the best. Note to airplane passengers reading these words: reach for the air sickness bag.
First, Time's J.F.O. McAllister: "The young Dan Quayle never convinced the country he had the gravitas to be Veep, let along top man. But the cerebral, private, intensely competitive Al Gore has managed the contortionist's feat of projecting an almost perfect loyalty to his boss's re-election without diminishing himself...Gore and Clinton, both brainy, moderate Southerners with an abiding interest in the plumbing of government, speak an easy shorthand and razz each other like competitive brothers." Time didn't wonder where intense competitiveness might lead, say to fundraising improprieties?
In the other corner, Newsweek's Bill Turque: "Though Al Gore relishes politics almost as much as his boss does, tonight he's next door in the Old Executive Office Building, doing what he really loves: thinking about complexity theory, open systems, Goethe and the absence of scientific metaphors in modern society...Clinton may lead the country into the next millennium, but it is Gore who truly embodies the new century's possibilities and anxieties." Newsweek missed Telemarketer Al's cold calls shaking down corporate titans in between Goethe readings.
U.S. News soon joined the circus. Timothy Noah exclaimed: "Gore's commitment to the world of big ideas is no pose. Unlike John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, who became darlings of the highbrow set without really earning the honor, Gore is truly engaged in the life of the mind...Had the younger Gore not become a Congressman at 28, a Senator at 36, and Vice President at 44, he might have become the sort of essayist who aspires to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters." Earth to U.S. News: If Gore's so damned cerebral, how come he can't figure out it's illegal to twist donors' arms on government property?
Newsweek's Evan Thomas came back for more: "Because Gore is a reserved politician, his sometimes messianic zeal has been overlooked. The vice president has written that his call to save the environment began with the shock of a near-fatal car accident to his son, Albert III. Characteristically, Gore felt it wasn't enough to save one child; he wanted to save all the world's children."
Now that scandals are surrounding Al Gore, will the puff pieces end? Will Gore's shifty, stammering, wholly unconvincing press conference taint the Gold Dust Twin image? Or will the press rush to the rescue instead? The media's credibility - as much as Gore's - is at stake.