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Untouchable Al Gore

Imagine we're back in 1990. A local Indiana TV station reports that Vice President Dan Quayle is failing as a landlord. A poor family that lives off government handouts, with a father who can't work and five children (two of them disabled), can't get Quayle to fix their broken toilets and other household debacles. They've rented a house within sight of Quayle's home, and say they've waved at his limousine, but he's never noticed them. They say they've been complaining for months. Ultimately, Quayle Realty doesn't send a plumber. It sends an eviction notice.

You can just imagine the adrenaline rush this would give the national media. The family would be plastered across "60 Minutes" and "20/20" as if they'd had septuplets. Ted Koppel would begin "Nightline" with a sermon about hypocrisy: "As a Senator, Mr. Quayle has claimed to serve the people, but clearly there are two kinds of people: those he plays golf with, and the kind to which he hands his coat and tells to go fight in Vietnam for him." Quayle wouldn't be able to get off a plane without being hounded by drooling attack dogs. "Mr. Quayle," they'd all ask with passionate outrage, "is this how you propose to treat the poor and downtrodden in America?"

This scandal never happened with Quayle. But it has just happened with Al Gore. Tracy Mayberry, whose troubled poor family lives within sight of Gore's home in Carthage, Tennessee, couldn't get Gore Realty to fix their broken, smelly toilets, and other household disasters. When Gore Realty finally responded, they sent an eviction notice. Mrs. Mayberry took her story to Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF-TV and called Gore a "slumlord." A suddenly contrite Gore tried to minimize the damage and promised to put the Mayberry family up in another house while their home is repaired.

Is this news? For the Washington Times, it led off the front page. It was a major story for the Fox News Channel. It was all over The New York Post. But that's to be expected. These are just about the only organs that care about reporting all the news today.

All those imaginary attack dog inquiries, Koppel sermons, and "20/20" exclusives never happened in the rest of the media. Because Mr. Gore is a Democrat. The story broke on a Saturday morning, June 3, with an Associated Press dispatch. The Washington Post and The New York Times buried the AP story deep inside their Sunday papers. NBC's "Sunday Today" aired a few seconds and CNN's "Inside Politics" spent 38 seconds on it Monday afternoon. (Unlike Fox, neither even bothered to offer video of the crumbling rental house.) With the exception of Fox, there has been no other national coverage. ABC's "Good Morning America" even interviewed Gore days later without a single landlord question.

Why is this story important? If this had been a Quayle expose, it would have validated the media's conventional "wisdom," that conservatives are haters who wake up in the morning looking for poor families to throw out on the streets. But Al Gore has made a career parading around as the defender of poor government dependents against the rapacious rich. Clearly, on the grounds of hypocrisy alone, he deserved the wrath of a media mudbath much more than any Republican would.

This wasn't a one-day story, either. Several days into the story, Mrs. Mayberry was unhappy again, threatening to sue, saying that Gore property manager Charles Elrod "told me I'm a nasty housekeeper." Gore did not find a house for the Mayberrys during repairs, so Mrs. Mayberry said she's planning to send the kids to her mother's and while she and her husband live in their truck. This would have been manna from heaven for a Quayle-quashing press corps.

The degree to which the liberal media is refusing to cover Gore scandals is becoming mind-numbing. The Washington Times revealed another new one. The White House has somehow managed to "lose" thousands of subpoenaed Gore e-mail messages from March 1998 to April 1999, which former official Sheryl Hall said contained messages about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the purloined Republican FBI files, the campaign-finance probe, and the political exploitation of Commerce Department trade junkets.

Gore portrays himself as the technical genius who invented the Internet, reinvented an inefficient federal government, and connected millions of children to the World Wide Web, but the White House can't find his own e-mails. Is this news? Based on the media's non-coverage of Gore scandals to date (including the White House e-mail scandal, which has been going on for months), we already know the answer.

Somewhere in Arizona, Dan Quayle has the right to be one furious emigre from this completely partisan press.