Al Gore's new book, "The Assault on Reason," has definitively established one fact: Al Gore is still the sorest loser in American politics. Even liberal book reviewers are wincing at the tone of his jeremiad against the Bush administration. The book should have been titled, "They Should Have Elected Me, Instead: How Much Better America Would Fare With President Gore."
He seems to believe his own silly "Saturday Night Live" skit from last year, the one in which he pretended to be president and gas was 19 cents a gallon and the budget surplus was $11 trillion. He even implies he would have prevented 9-11.
Like many liberals with the itch to micromanage our lives, Gore clearly believes the American people are ignorant to the point of endangerment. So he's become a media scholar, and unloaded his communications theories in a book excerpt hyped by his friends at Time magazine.
One reason for general public ignorance, he believes, is the celebrity-obsessed world of television news. Political junkies of every stripe -- left, right and center -- can nod their heads that the news isn't substantive enough, that it focuses too much on trivial stories like Britney Spears shaving her head. More voters can name Homer Simpson's cartoon kids than Supreme Court justices. Gore can get an Amen on that.
The networks will reply that politicians in general bore TV bookers to tears, outside the Sunday morning newsmaker shows. As a matter of fact, despite his newly found celebrity, Al Gore is a good example of a sleep-inducing self-impressed wonk. Thus, the number of politicians and cabinet ministers showing up on the network morning shows has dropped like a stone. The old format, watching a Republican and a Democrat squabble on a morning show, is almost non-existent on ABC, CBS and NBC today.
But then Gore leaves the reservation of clear thinking in favor of liberal cant. He complains that the dearth of substantive TV news means the news shows don't have the same impact now that 30-second political commercials do. This is a common (and self-interested) liberal complaint: Why pay attention to those horrendous Republican ads when you can, and should, focus your attention on the worldview of Katie Couric?