Sixty percent of Americans, including a quarter of Gore supporters, now say Gore should concede gracefully. But "Gore is Said to Harbor Unshakable Conviction That He Has Won the Election," the New York Times headline trumpets, citing "people who deal with (Gore) daily" who say "he believes -- no, he knows he won the election." Is this scary or what?
If Bill Clinton decided to turn the normal electoral process upside down in search of a vote count, any vote count that put him in the lead, he would do so with an inner chuckle and a great big Arkansas wink: Watch me steal this election from under those fuddy-duddy Republicans. Doesn't anybody else know how to play this game? Clinton might dip into the nefarious, but he would be at least certifiably sane. He would know what he was doing. Does Gore?
The gap between Gore's words and reality is growing so large you could sail the ship of state right through the hole. On Monday, he went before the nation to explain why he must refuse to concede the reality that he lost this election by an agonizingly razor-thin margin. "A vote is not just a piece of paper. A vote is a human voice, a statement of human principle," he waxed lyrical. All those little chads lying on the floor calling to him: "Gore! Gore! Gore!"
Their voices in his head apparently drove Gore to the next step: an outright, vicious, shameful, mean-spirited lie: "In one county," Gore charged, "election officials brought the count to a premature end in the face of organized intimidation." In Miami-Dade, officials stopped a manual recount they did not originally believe was called for because they could not meet the Florida Supreme Court-imposed deadline. All three canvassing board officials have publicly disavowed the repeated, scurrilous Democrat claim that a public protest "intimidated" them into calling off the recount. Guess what, Mr. Gore? The voice of law-abiding protesters is also a human voice, a statement of human principle, and not a threat to democracy.
Finally, Gore explained to us his grim, unalterable duty: to help make sure Americans "did everything they could to ensure that all citizens who voted had their votes counted." Count every vote, Gore insists on noble principle, except in Republican Seminole County, where Al Gore is urging the court to throw out thousands of absentee ballots (named, known voters) on technical grounds. Count every vote, except in Nassau County, where Al Gore is in court trying to keep the 200 or so votes that Nassau County officials inadvertently failed to tally in the machine recount out of the official vote count. Count every vote, except for those of soldiers overseas, where Al Gore seeks to prevent hundreds of military absentee ballots (again with named, known voters) from being counted. Count every vote, but only in three heavily Democratic counties where extra Gore votes can be found, or invented by eager Democratic vote counters, repeatedly overruling their Republican colleagues in cases of contested ballots by 2-to-1 partisan rulings.
With luck, Gore is only taking political hypocrisy and sanctimony to new heights (or lows). What scares me, given that there is a slim chance Al Gore may yet finagle his way into the White House, is the possibility that he really believes his own private world -- Al Gore, noble crusader for democracy -- is true.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.