The three faces of Al

Posted: Oct 19, 2000 12:00 AM
The three faces of Al
Gore's various personalities are like the unhappy families described by Tolstoy: He's always weird, but he's weird in different ways.

In the first debate, Gore was the insufferable brown-noser -- constantly interrupting to get just "one more" point in, heaving exasperated sighs, hogging more than his fair share of airtime, and reminding the teacher that she forgot to assign homework.

Even Jay Leno (who can find nothing critical to say about Ralph Nader because Nader "tells it like it is") joked that the day after the debate, Bush was campaigning in the Midwest and Gore was still at the podium trying to make one more point.

At one point during that debate, our little Miss-Know-It-All referred to "Yugoslavia, as they call Serbia plus Montenegro ..."

Naturally, Gore's advisers had to take dramatic action. They forced him to watch the "Saturday Night Live" version of the debate, which would have satirically exaggerated Gore's annoying tropes if that had been possible. (See if you can tell the difference: Which Al Gore told an interminable sob story and then tried to deliver two closing statements?)

By the second debate, Gore had miraculously transformed himself. No longer the know-it-all brown-noser, Gore managed to become Norman Bates in the last scene of "Psycho." He was so tightly controlled for that second debate that you could almost hear him thinking to himself: "I hope they are watching. They will see. They will see and say, 'Why, she wouldn't even hurt a fly.'"

So naturally, the entire nation was on tenterhooks waiting to see what weirdness Gore would unleash at the final presidential debate. The results are in, and the answer is: Tracy Flick in the movie "Election."

It got to the point that even the audience was laughing at Gore for his ridiculous pomposity. Bush was in on the joke, laughing and winking at audience members, as Gore grew increasingly insufferable.

It's always so great to see the reaction of normal Americans to the Clinton-Gore team. Remember how the Washington, D.C., grand jury laughed out loud at President Clinton's testimony? You know, the same testimony windbag pundits would soon be ponderously describing as "legally accurate"?

Every time the American people get a look at Al Gore, unfiltered by the media propaganda machine, you have the same effect. Media blowhards speculate (increasingly unconvincingly) that Gore may be just "too smart" to be president, while the public keeps laughing at him for being such a dork.

In the final debate, a classic Gore moment came when Bush asserted that Gore's promised federal handouts would require three times the spending Clinton had proposed. Gore butted in, as he is wont to do, with this dazzling retort: "That's in an ad, Jim, that was knocked down by the journalists who analyzed the ad and said it was misleading."

Oh -- "journalists" said it was misleading, did they? A quick Lexis-Nexis search turned up just who these "journalists" are. Amazingly enough, it was The New York Times (!) which, in another couple of weeks, will be topping off its daily campaign propaganda for Gore with an official Gore endorsement. Gore might as well have protested that Clinton had called the ad "misleading."

In fact, even Gore's adjunct staff at the "Newspaper of Record" didn't say what Gore said they said. The Times' claimed only that the ad's 10-second description of Bush's proposed tax cuts was "somewhat misleading" because it was based on a family with two children. "Single people and families with fewer than two children," the Times alerted its readers, "would not fare as well."

Interestingly enough, though, the Times did not contest the ad's assertions about Gore's gargantuan spending plans. Indeed, the Times' "accuracy"-meter supported Bush's claim that Gore's spending plans are three times what Clinton had proposed -- leaping in only to defend Clinton on the grounds that he had "made his proposals at a time when the government was running a record budget deficit and was constrained from expanding or adding programs."

Bush responded to Gore's jackass interruption by saying: "Forget the journalists. You propose more than Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis combined. In other words -- this is a big spender ..."

When the moderator tried to move on, Fibber McGee butted in ("I've got to answer that, Jim") and again demanded that due obeisance be paid "the journalists." The journalists, Gore proclaimed, "are the keepers of the scorecard."

Unfortunately for Gore, every four years the American people get to replace the journalists as "keepers of the scorecard." The journalists' "scorecard" said that Clinton became a more popular president with each additional felony he committed. Now they say Norman Bates-cum Tracy Flick must be president. Forget the journalists. This time, the American people get to vote in the only poll that really counts.