Al Gore: Imagining the past
If Al Gore wins, the folks at Burger King™ should be happy because the Whopper™ may become our national dish. But before taking Vice President Al Gore to task for his tendency to tell whoppers, let’s clear the air with regard to former Vice President Dan Quayle.
Mr. Quayle had a tendency toward foot-in-mouth disease. Some of it was real; some of it was made up by his detractors. As a result, there is a long list of Dan Quayle malapropisms and other verbal gaffs. Go to any Internet search engine, type in “Dan Quayle,” and you’ll see what I mean.
But if you perform a similar search on Al Gore, you’ll see that some of Dan Quayle’s verbal miscues are being attributed to Al Gore. These are old Dan Quayle jokes warmed over and served up in an Al Gore wrapper. Most of this was unfair to Dan Quayle when he was in office and none of this is fair to Al Gore as he runs for president.
But if we separate the Dan Quayle stories from the actual Al Gore stories, we find Al Gore’s problem is what Sir Lewis Namier was talking about when he said that some people “imagine the past and remember the future.” Here are examples of Al Gore’s tendency to imagine the past:
On September 18, 2000, Gore told the Teamsters Union in Las Vegas that the theme song of the International Ladies Garment Union “Look for the Union Label” was sung to him in his cradle. If that was true, Mr. Gore must have stayed in the cradle until he was age 27 when the union first aired the song on radio and TV in 1975.
On March 9, 1999, Gore told CNN: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Actually, the Internet was created by the Defense Department, eight years before Mr. Gore entered Congress.
On November 1, 1999, Al Gore told Time that he was the author of the legislation that created the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC was enacted in 1975 and Gore did not enter Congress until 1977.
On December 12, 1997, Time quoted Al Gore as saying that he and his wife, Tipper, had served as the inspiration for Erich Segal’s novel Love Story. But Mr. Segal told The New York Times that he was “befuddled” by Mr. Gore’s claim.
In 1987, Al Gore told the Des Moines Register that as a newspaper reporter his reporting “got a bunch of people indicted and sent to jail.” According to The Tennessean, two city council persons were indicted during a time when Gore covered city hall, but no one went to jail.
On February 2, 1988, Al Gore told The Washington Post that he was shot at in Vietnam and spent most of his time in the field. On October 15, 1999, he told the Los Angeles Times: “I carried an M-16…I pulled my turn on the perimeter at night and walked through the elephant grass, and I was fired on.” In fact, Gore served less than five months of a 12-month tour and spent almost all of his time in a large base camp writing stories for a military publication. He had no occasion to be fired on or to fire back.
In 1994, Al Gore claimed that he and Senator Russell Feingold co-sponsored the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform legislation. The problem is that Al Gore and Russell Feingold never served in the U.S. Senate together. Gore left the Senate to become Vice President before Feingold entered the Senate.
What Mr. Gore needs to do is realize that he has his own record of achievement and he should rest his presidential bid on that. Telling whoppers may help him feel better about himself, but they only undercut his credibility with the rest of us. Pass the ketchup.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.