I'm not convinced you ever really hit pay dirt by losing, but I am positive it's not a good idea right now.
It's bad enough for Americans to have witnessed a known lawbreaker sitting in the Oval Office. Criminal methods -- perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, using the instruments of federal government to intimidate one's enemies -- all this has been shown to succeed. On the heels of that, it really cannot be good for the country to watch a presidential election being openly stolen by the horny hick's assistant.
Al Gore's smarmy claim that he is dragging the country through this nightmare out of principle is like nothing so much as President Clinton's claim that he fought impeachment to vindicate the Constitution. Thank you, Monica, for helping me defend the Constitution. Gore is not doing this for the abstract principle of "consent of the governed," "land of the free," "home of the brave" or whatever his platitude of the day is.
He's not doing it to ensure that George W. Bush assumes power with legitimacy. Being president is legitimacy. President Clinton became president with less experience than George W., won a far smaller percentage of the sublime popular vote, and then he trashed the place when he got there. To be sure, his presidency was not without its bumps, but he's still there, and still being reported on as if he's legitimate.
Somehow the media manage to report on Clinton's jaunts abroad and state dinners without incessant reminders that he was the first elected president ever impeached, the first president whose DNA had to be subpoenaed for a criminal investigation, the first president laughed at by a grand jury, and so on.
It really isn't going to hurt Bush to have some guy out there going around claiming he's president.
Thus far, George W. Bush has won: the election, the recount, the manual recount conducted in Democratic counties within the statutory seven-day deadline, the manual recount in Democratic counties conducted unlawfully beyond the statutory deadline, and the absentee ballots even with the Democrats laboring feverishly to exclude ballots from men risking their lives to defend the country.
Clearly, this is no time for Republicans to think they smell victory.
To be sure, Gore will not stop suing until about the time George Bush is inaugurated ... to his second term. But it's hard to come up with a scenario under which Gore actually does steal the election that so many Republicans are champing at the bit to concede to him.
As luck would have it, the Constitution is loaded up with little devices to stave off corruption and tyranny. (And Bill Clinton and Al Gore have given the old parchment a workout like never before!) The 12th Amendment provides a pretty good bulwark to Gore's current shenanigans.
The problem with Gore's pitiful litigation strategy is that the 12th Amendment grants authority to the state legislatures to appoint presidential electors -- not, you will note, any kangaroo court Gore can get to sober up long enough to declare him president.
If Gore is still pursuing one of his ham-handed attempts to find some way of recounting the votes in Florida so that he finally wins, the Florida Legislature has authority under the Constitution to step in and appoint electors themselves.
In light of the fact that George Bush has already won five vote counts in Florida and that Al Gore is the only person in the universe who thinks this makes him the winner, it's a fair guess that the Florida Legislature will be appointing the Bush electors.
Unless the Florida legislators are cowed out of their constitutional duty by the threat of yet more Larry Flynt investigations, Gore won't be able to block Florida's electors by bringing lawsuits and whining on TV. (They might recall that Larry Flynt's vaunted investigation couldn't even turn up the tidbit about Newt Gingrich having a torrid affair with a staffer during impeachment.)
Try as they might, it's really hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would permit Republicans to practice being good losers this time.