Burt Prelutsky

From now on, Al Gore will no longer be best known as the man who lost the presidency because he couldn’t even carry his own home state. People may even begin overlooking the fact that the most fascinating thing about him is that his head is as large as the pumpkin that sits atop Barry Bonds’ neck. Those are just two of the reasons that Mr. Gore can be grateful that, along with his Oscar, he now has a Peace Prize on his mantel.

There is probably nothing that people would rather have mentioned in their obituaries than the fact that along life’s torturous path, they managed to snag a Nobel Prize. The reason for that isn’t just all the tax-free cash that accompanies the honor, but that forever after your words on any topic under the sun will be taken much too seriously by a very gullible public.

There’s no getting around the fact that some pretty impressive people have been Nobel laureates. Just a few of them were Ivan Pavlov, Sir Alexander Fleming, Marie and Pierre Curie, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein.

Personally, I have no problem when the award is made in recognition of scientific and technological advances. I mean, even though what I know about chemistry, medicine, physiology and physics, could be inscribed on the head of a pin, I am willing to accept that their accomplishments were remarkable. And if Alfred Nobel had left it at that, I’d be willing to live and let live.

But it does seem a little silly to hand out the Prizes to economists and, for that matter, to writers. If economics is a science, Charles Ponzi was a philosopher king. No matter how loopy a theory an economist comes up with, he stands a darn good chance of winning a cool million in the Swedish lottery. In fact, several years ago, one very savvy American woman, in her divorce settlement from a professor of economics, stipulated that she’d get half the loot if he copped a Prize within the following 10 years. Sure enough, nine years later, he did, and she was $500,000 richer. Frankly, for being that prescient, I think she should have won her own Nobel Prize for Economics! As for literature, what do the Swedes know about books and poetry written in Hungarian, Japanese and Hebrew? Who are we kidding? Besides, these are the same folks who kept snubbing Mark Twain while recognizing the likes of Sully Prudhomme, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Rudolf Eucken and Selma Lagerlof.

The Peace Prize, however, is the most questionable item of all. I mean, the money aside, who would really want to accept an award that has been bestowed on such ne’er-do-wells as Le Duc Tho, Kofi Annan, Yasir Arafat and Jimmy Carter? Well, Al Gore, for one.

As if it’s not bad enough that such unrepentant thugs and rascals as the aforementioned have copped the Peace Prize, it’s equally enlightening to consider the people who haven’t won it. Namely, those gallant souls who don’t back down when confronted by evil, but who, instead, take up arms and, on occasion, sacrifice their lives in the never ending battle. I mean, really, ask yourselves: who has done more to promote peace on earth -- Al Gore and Jimmy Carter or Winston Churchill and the American G.I.?