This makes Clinton only slightly less popular in Russia than among this country's media elite. The media's wildly counterfactual insistence that Clinton is the most popular man since John Lennon merits investigation. Whenever a Democrat loses, the mainstream media invariably start spouting bizarre theories about why the election really turned on something other than the unpopularity of Democratic ideas: The candidate was an imperfect messenger for the happy, upbeat message of socialism, class warfare and atheism; or the Republican candidate had some supernatural capacity to entrance gullible voters; or the American people have lost their minds and are throwing a temper tantrum by rejecting the idea of behemoth government.
But this time the left doesn't even need any fancy theories. There's a perfectly good excuse for an incumbent vice president to become a historical first by losing a presidential election during peacetime in the midst of a booming economy: It was sitting with its legs spread on the cover of Esquire magazine a couple months ago. It was the first elected president ever impeached, to say nothing of being the first president to have his capacity to sexually arouse an intern described in unseemly detail to Barbara Walters on national TV.
So you might think the left would jump on Clinton, an impeached, dishonored president, as the explanation of why Gore lost an election that the economy indicated should have been his in a cakewalk.
But they haven't. The left loves Clinton and the worst he stands for even more than they love high taxes and failed government programs. It is now accepted as hard fact by the press that Gore made a fatal error in not making Clinton front and center of his campaign.
Without irony (or evidence), New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called Clinton "the most popular and articulate leader in the world." (But see the American people when they're allowed to cast their own votes.) Dowd conjured up a pop-up bubble over Clinton's head during the presidential debates, with Clinton thinking: "Give me a shot at Bush. I can take him."