So the fact that the media called the debate a "draw" means it wasn't even close: The Dumb Guy beat the Media Darling.
Not for nothing, the next day it turned out Gore had launched all new whoppers during the debate. It's as if every time Clinton drops his pants, Gore tells a lie. Maybe Gore is Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."
This is the guy who said he invented the Internet, claimed to be the inspiration for "Love Story," and said he discovered Love Canal (it had already been declared a national disaster area by President Carter). He says his father was voted out of office for his courageous stand on Civil Rights, when his father voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and his mother sang him union lullabies that didn't exist until he was 27 years old. He claimed to be a co-sponsor of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, but he wasn't in Congress with Sen. Feingold.
Gore's endless boasts of his false heroic feats had already gotten to the point of pathology. Making stuff up is surely one of Gore's leading negatives in this campaign. So you would have thought the man could sweat out a 90-minute debate without telling another tall tale. But no.
In the Taking Credit for Everything That's Ever Happened category, Gore said of the federal government's response to fires and floods in Texas: "I accompanied (FEMA Director) James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out." But then it turned out that never happened. Gore did not go to Texas with James Lee Witt.
Gore also insanely boasted: "When the action in Kosovo was dragging on and we were searching for a solution to the problem ... I invited the former prime minister of Russia to my house and took a risk in asking him to get personally involved." Um, not quite. Two weeks earlier, Russian President Boris Yeltsin had already designated Mr. Chernomyrdin as special envoy to the Balkans.
And in the Taking Credit for Things Yet to Come category, Gore told the sad story of little Kaylie Ellis and her poverty-stricken Sarasota, Fla., high school, where they "can't squeeze another desk in for (Kaylie), so she has to stand during class." But never fear! Gore would come to Kaylie's rescue as president: "I want the federal government ... to make improvement of our schools the No. 1 priority so Kaylie will have a desk and can sit down in a classroom ..."
But then the day after the debate, the principal of Kaylie's high school indignantly took to the airwaves to say that the classroom seemed crowded that day only because it was brimming over with $100,000 worth of computer equipment. The school has plenty of room, plenty of desks, and -- evidently -- plenty of computer equipment.
Most brazenly, Gore got huffy when Bush answered the moderator's question about any "issues of character" that might distinguish the candidates. Not surprisingly, Gore wants character issues completely off the table.
But Jim Lehrer asked, and Bush answered. After a hail-fellow-well-met introductory paragraph on what a good family man Gore is, Bush said: "I think the thing that discouraged me about the vice president was uttering those famous words: no controlling legal authority." (One further point Bush refrained from making was that Gore said those words in a speech in which he was admitting to have made fund-raising calls from the White House -- a federal felony.)
The next thing you knew, Gore was in one of his schoolmarm snits: "I want to spend my time making this country even better than it is, not trying to make you out to be a bad person. You may want to focus on scandals. I want to focus on results."
Yeah, of course Gore doesn't want to focus on scandals. Unlike the Internet, he actually does have something to do with those. This is like Don Corleone complaining to the prosecutor that -- as a point of etiquette -- he just doesn't think they should be discussing any crimes either of them may have committed. When did it become a principled stance for crooks to take crime off the table?
Nixon didn't want to talk about the Watergate in the 1972 election. Slobodan Milosevic probably got a little sick of all the jawboning about scandals in the recent Yugoslavian election. King George didn't want to talk about taxes.
Surely Gore remembers that. Wasn't he the guy who crossed the Potomac?