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Al Gore biography
Article largely based on the German book by Peter Neumann: Al Gore. Eine Biographie. DVA, Stuttgart, Munich, 2000, 195 p.

Article added on September 4, 2000

 
Carthage is a village with 2,500 souls, situated a one hour's drive east of Nashville, Tennessee's capital. As so many soldiers did, Al Gore's ancestors got a farm as a reward for their efforts in the War of Independence. They received the farmland before Tennessee joined the American Union in 1796. The Gores, descendants of English Baptists, remained small peasants. Allen Gore was born in 1869. Among his friends was Cordell Hull who became a lawyer, was elected in the House of Representatives in 1907, ended his political career as FDR's Secretary of State, and was awarded Peace Nobel Prize in 1945 for his efforts to build the United Nations. In all those years, he kept in contact with the Gores. The father of today's presidential candidate, Al Gore Sr., was born in 1907 as the only son of Allen. He went to college and became the principal of the small school in Carthage. Inspired by the political debates between his father and Cordell Hull, he entered a career in public office. He first served as Smith County Superintendent of Schools - he finished second in the election, but due to the sudden death of the winner, he was soon promoted to held the office.
 
Pauline LaFon was a girl from a Huguenot merchant family from Arkansas who had lost almost their entire fortune in the world economic crisis. As Al Gore Sr., she had to struggle to finance her years in college, so worked in a restaurant. That's where she met Al. She married him in 1937 and became his close advisor. Gore worked for one year as government representative at Tennessee's Department of Labor. In 1938, the constituency in which Carthage lies became vacant. Al Gore Sr. won the race and was elected to the House of Representatives where he stayed until 1952, when he began 18 years as Senator. He was a populist, cunning and rooted in the soil of the Southern countryside. In 1956, he closely missed the nomination for candidate for the Vice Presidency on the Democratic ticket. Although Gore Sr. was no active advocate of the advancement of African-Americans, he was one of only two Southern Senators who opposed the Southern Manifesto, which held up the racial discrimination and its old formula "separate but equal". Gore is the author and sponsor of the bill that lead to the creation of the Interstate Highway system. He was also a leader on tax reform and defense policy. Later, he opposed the Vietnam war, which contributed greatly to his defeat in the 1970 Senate race. After the defeat, he worked as a lawyer and businessman. His wife Pauline had been the second women to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School. Although the Gores were a modern couple, she had abandoned her career according to the conservative tradition in the South where a woman had to stand behind her husband. After Gore's defeat in 1970, she returned to her original vocation as a lawyer and served as a mentor to women considering legal careers. Al Gore Sr. died in 1998 at the age of 91.


 
Al Gore Jr. was born in 1948 in Washington, D.C. He grew up on the family farm in Carthage, Tennessee, and in Washington, where his parents worked most of the year. As Senator, Gore Sr. no longer had the time to work on his farm and therefore hired a steward, William Thompson. The Thompsons became something like a second family to Al Gore Jr. His sister Nancy, ten years older than him, studied law at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville and became one of the co-founders of the Peace Corps, initiated by John F. Kennedy. She worked for several international organizations in Europe and then returned to Tennessee, married a lawyer from Mississippi, and together they worked as calf breeders. Nancy died in 1984 from lung cancer - she had been a chain smoker.
 
Al Gore Jr. went to St. Alban's, an elite convent-school. He played basketball and football, in the last year as captain of the school's team. In May 1965, at St. Alban's Senior Prom he met Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson, called Tipper. She is six months younger than him. Gore ended a three year relationship with another girl and began to date Tipper, whose parents had divorced when she was three. She had grown up with her mother and become a self-confident young woman - quite like Gore's sister Nancy. Tipper played in a girls band called The Wildcats. After she graduated, she followed Al to Boston where she studied at Garland College and at Boston University, receiving a B.A. in Psychology. In 1975, she earned a Master's Degree in Psychology at George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. She worked as a photo-journalist at The Tennessean until her husband was elected to Congress in 1976. In 1985, she co-founded the Parents' Music Resource Center (PMRC), along with Susan Baker. It aims to give parents a greater ability to protect their children from inappropriate material in popular culture. The "Parental Advisory- Explicit Lyrics" warnings on CDs - a somewhat counterproductive measure since it attracts certain children to these "forbidden" CDs - is a result of the PMRC's fight for consumer labels on music with violent or explicit lyrics. Tipper Gore wrote her first book in 1987: Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society. Gore's partner on the Democratic presidential ticket, Senator Joseph Lieberman, shares the same concerns and has repeatedly attacked Hollywood for showing to much sex and violence in its movies. Tipper Gore is also an advocate for the homeless, co-founded and chaired Families for the Homeless in 1986, a non-partisan partnership of families that tries to raise public awareness of homeless. The Gores have four children, born between 1973 and 1982.
 
At the age of seventeen, Al Gore Jr. went to Boston's Harvard University where he majored in Government. Among his friends where later actor Tommy Lee Jones, comedian Bob Somerby and today's respected artist Michael Kapitan. Gore's roommate was John Tyson, an African-American football player from New Jersey who works at present as a businessman and development aid worker in Africa. In the mid 1960s, it was still unusual for a white student - especially from the South - to share a room with a black kid. At Harvard, Gore also met Roger Revelle, a professor for geophysics and oceanography. Revelle was one of the first to prove that CO2 was increasing in the atmosphere. Years before the Club of Rome published its famous report, Gore was interested in ecology. In his semester holidays, he worked as a messenger boy at the New York Times. He also went to the University of Mexico City where he improved his Spanish - which helps him still today in his contact with Spanish speaking voters (by the way, George W. Bush junior is also fluent in Spanish, so this gives Gore no advantage in the presidential race).
 
Al Gore Jr. was opposed to the Vietnam war. In a letter to his father he called America's anti-communism "a paranoia", "national obsession" and "psychological illness". He even compared the US Army to a fascist regime. At Harvard in the 1960s, this was not uncommon. But Gore was never a radical student and not part of the major demonstrations taking place in those years. He smoked joints for ten years until 1976 - and in contrast to Clinton, he admits he also inhaled. Gore says he stopped that habit when first running for the House of Representatives.
 
In 1969, after Gore had made his B.A. in Government from Harvard, he decided to serve in Vietnam. If he had not done it, somebody else in Carthage would have been sent to war. The draft list was no secret in such a small place. It would have been impossible for him to walk down the village's main street with a clear conscience. Furthermore, his father was soon to be re-elected. Since he was openly opposed to the war, it would have been a huge handicap, had his son refused to serve in Vietnam. In the South, patriotism was important. In May 1970, while he was in the Army, Al Gore junior married Tipper at the pompous Washington Cathedral in the American capital. Tommy Lee Jones, Bob Somerby, Michael Kapitan and other friends from Harvard attended the ceremony. Gore Sr. posed in his uniform from the Second World War - which he had never used. In September of that year, shortly before the election, Gore Jr. got his call for Vietnam. Despite the clever timing, Al Gore Sr. lost his 1970 Senate race. According to veteran Newsweek journalist Bill Turque, Gore served only five months rather than the standard year because the Nixon White House, backing Senator Gore's Republican opponent, delayed Gore Jr.'s ship-over date until after the election so that Gore Sr. could not use his son's military service as an argument in the campaign.
 
Al Gore Jr. served as army journalist from Christmas 1970 until May 1971. The 21-year-old Gore did not have a dangerous job. In Bien Hoa, he was not in direct contact with the front. He once wrote an article about an attack by twelve Vietcong rebels, but as Peter Neumann asserts in his biography, in reality, Gore was not even at the place where the attack took place. He just questioned soldiers involved. Later, Gore spiced up his description of his years in the army. He told Vanity Fair that he had regularly served as a guard and that they first shot at people moving at night and only asked questions afterwards. But a friend in Vietnam admitted that neither he nor Gore were ever guards - exclusively South Vietnamese soldiers were assigned to this task at their camp.


 
When Gore came back to Carthage in May 1971, he was deeply affected by what he had experienced in Vietnam. Together with his father and a friend of the family, he founded the Tanglewood Home Builders enterprise, specializing in building family homes near Carthage. This experience did not help him to fill his inner vacuum and he decided to study theology and philosophy at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1971 to 1972. In retrospect, Gore asserts that this period was extremely valuable since it gave him the possibility to ask the right questions. At Divinity School, he made an important step in the direction of environmental politics. The seminary of Eugene TeSelles on "religion and natural sciences" proved to be particularly precious. On its reading list was the then newly published (first) report of the Club of Rome. On his first day at university, Gore also started working - as an investigative journalist - for the Nashville Tennessean. The editor, John Siegenthalter, was a good friend of the Gores. Al Gore Jr. had already written the above-mentioned article from Vietnam for the Nashville newspaper. In the summer of 1973, at the expenses of the Tennessean, Gore took a two-week seminary on investigative journalism at Columbia University in New York. At the Nashville Metro Council, he discovered irregularities and corruption. The highlight of his career should have been the trial of a corrupt black politician. Although the evidence seemed to be clear, the jury decided not to condemn the politician (In 1988 Gore claimed in an interview that he had sent a lot of politicians to prison - one of his famous "embellishments"). Gore was shocked and disappointed and decided to stop theology, switching to the Vanderbilt Law School (1974-76). He complemented his studies in Harvard.
 
In 1976, Gore run for the House of Representative in Tennessee. His father's name was a great advantage, but Gore Jr. run the campaign on his own, without the help of the former senator. Only his mother - as campaign manager - was active in his race for Congress. Gore won the Democratic nomination with only 30% of the votes, but at the election he made 96%: the Republicans had no candidate, and only an independent took some votes away from Gore. He stayed in the House from 1977 to 1985. In his early years in Congress, Gore managed to pass a law which set minimal standards for baby food and allowed a government agency to test new products and give them access to the markets only after successful tests. Gore also managed to win over Congress with his call for a national network for organ transplantation. In short, the Senator distinguished himself with scientific and technical solutions for human problems.
 
In his first period in the House, Gore fought the then still legal practices of scandalous "disposals" of toxic waste. In the end, Congress agreed to spend 1.6 billion dollars to remove the disposals within five years. Gore also managed to find a majority to make the companies responsible to pay for its removal, but it could not take effect since a law cannot be applied retroactively (nulla poena sine lege). Therefore, in the end, taxpayers had to pay for it. Still, this was a significant improvement. Gore's voting record on environmental issues was not as good as expected, at least in the eyes of the League of Conversation, an environmental organization. In the House, he voted against the bills favored by the League 40% of the time. As a Senator, this value dropped to 27%.
 
Gore's themes with their human touch where interesting for the media. It is no accident that he was in favor of broadcasted parliamentary debates and, in March 1979, the first Congressman to speak in front of the cameras. But soon he realized he needed a theme to win over not only the media, but also his colleagues. In order to prevent being portrayed as a "tax-and-spend" Democrat and a "Harvard-liberal", Gore had to re-center himself and Jimmy Carter, a representative of the left wing of the Democratic Party, was President, which made it easy for him to do so. Gore rejected new taxes, demanded a smaller administration and a strong security policy. In the early 1980s, the "Holy Grail of American politics" (Peter Neumann) were security and arms policies, which, consequently, became Gore's fields of expertise. In a TV interview, Gore explained his new interests with the experience he made in a rally with citizens in Tennessee where almost all school girls of a group he had asked replied that they expected to count with a nuclear war during their lifetime. He says he was so shocked that he started to study the issue the next day.
 
Gore demanded the development of nuclear missiles with only one warhead in order to reduce the possibility of a nuclear first strike by of one of the superpowers. His reasoning: Instead of one missile with ten warheads which could destroy ten enemy-missiles with 100 warheads, one would need 100 missiles to destroy 100 warheads - something unlikely to achieve. The Republicans and the arms lobby were against it, and also the Democrats opposed it because it maintained the strategy of nuclear deterrence. According to Neumann, this was no failure for Gore because that way he positioned himself as a centrist. He had suddenly become an expert who could mediate between the President and the leadership of the Democratic party. Although in 1983, with Reagan's SDI, Gore's proposals became obsolete, they had helped to establish him as a leading figure in American politics. In 1984, the respected Washington Monthly counted Gore among the six most influential men in Congress.
 
In 1985, the Americans gave Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party 59% of their votes, but in Tennessee, Gore managed to get 61% of the votes in the race for a place in the US Senate, a better score than any other candidate in the history of the state. In 1990, Gore became the first statewide candidate in modern history to carry all 95 Tennessee counties. A candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1988, he won Democratic primaries and caucuses in seven states, but finally was unsuccessful within the Democratic Party. Because of his and his wife's fight against sex and violence in movies and music, Gore did not have the support Democrats normally get from Hollywood. More important was the fact that he was and - despite some notable efforts - still is a stiff person who cannot please a television audience. His official campaign debut was a disaster because he talked about the ozone hole and his achievements in security policy. Important issues, of course, but (unfortunately) no themes to catch the attention of a broad public. His lack of emotion, wooden personality and incapacity to tell the American public what his "mission" was all about gave him no chance. Moreover, in North Carolina he sold out his principals by intervening in a debate about a carton fabric (Champion) which was polluting the area. Instead of holding up to his image as a defender of nature and champion of ecological standards, he promised the workers to find a solution for them in Washington. The mediator Gore reached a pseudo-compromise with the fabric's output of harmful substances still way above the legal limits and the pollution level measured at a point some 50 km down the river. In 1988, Gore was endorsed by New York Mayor Ted Koch. But it was a time when the city's police was in discredit for bad treatment of African-Americans and Koch's support was actually a political burden. David Garth, Gore's press speaker, brought his boss to speak out for the conservative Israeli President Shamir - which made him lose most of the liberal Jewish community's support in the Big Apple. In the final Democratic debate, Gore attacked his opponent, Governor Michael Dukakis, on his soft position about crime in the case of Willie Horton, a criminal in Dukakis' state of Massachusetts. According to Peter Neumann, this became the main weapon in the hands of the Republican's and their candidate George Bush. Their televised campaign ad showed that instead of being sent to prison for life, Horton was released on weekends. Horton fled, kidnapped a young couple, stabbed the man to death, and raped his girlfriend several times. "That's Dukakis on crime", was the ad's conclusion - and Bush became president.


 
The 1988 defeat was Gore's first setback since 1976. A year afterwards, another event struck him: his son, Albert III, born in 1982, was hit by a car and, for weeks, his life was in danger. In reaction, Al Gore had the need to write something substantial and durable, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. The book is about the global environmental crisis which he says endangers our civilization in its present form. At its core is the human-caused change of the global climate. He identifies the greenhouse effect and the ozone hole as the two most important "strategic dangers". In the first part of the book, he describes the severity of today's environmental crisis and states that there had been crucial crop failures before the French revolution. Gore predicts that the anthropogene (manmade) climatic changes will be much more important than all other effects of the climate on humanity. He also explores the dangers of overpopulation, the felling of rain forests, the effects of pesticides or the production of chemical and atomic waste. He always connects climatic and social change. Waste has always been dumped where it is cheapest and where poorer people live. In the second part of Earth in the Balance, Gore tries to understand why nature's warning signals have been ignored and no decisive action has been taken. In the media-democracy, he argues, people forget about the future. Only democracy and self-responsibility can make a difference. This also applies to the economy and he stresses the failures of capital donators such as the World Bank. The problem lies in the separation between man and nature, which Gore dates back to Greek antiquity which has been continued into today's world through the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the third part of Earth in the Balance, he is looking for solutions, ways to re-establish the balance between the two. The salvation of nature should become the central organizing principle of our civilization. The world needs a global Marshall Plan for nature. Gore identifies five strategic goals: the stabilization of the increase in population in the Third World, the development and the diffusion of nature-compatible technologies, product pricing should also include the costs inflicted on nature (in German: Verursacherprinzip), binding international agreements to enforce these policies and, finally, the joint collection and international exchange of information. It took Gore three years to write the book. It was published in January 1992, ended up at the top of America's bestseller list, and has been translated into 33 languages.
 
But Gore did not only receive positive feedback on his back. His former mentor in Harvard, Roger Revelle, the climate specialist Fred Singer and another scientist wrote in a magazine in 1990 that there is no evidence yet that today's climatic catastrophes can be attributed to the greenhouse effect. The article was re-published two years later in The New Republic. By then, Revelle was dead. Gore was angry about it because, in his book, he cites several times his former mentor. A legal battle between Gore and Singer about the intentions of Revelle ensued, ending in 1994 with Gore's defeat in court. Gore was also compared to Theodore J. Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who made 16 bomb attacks between 1978 and 1995 against the "industrial-technological system". Kaczynsiki's manifest resembled a lot Earth in the Balance and, in 1996, the FBI found in his hideaway in Montana an annotated exemplary of Gore's book. Even the serious Conservative press began to attack Gore as a spiritual arsonist - which is of course nonsense.
 
In June 1992, Gore lead the Senate delegation to the international environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, but the U.S. decisions were taken by the head of the American governmental delegation, a man who carried out President Bush's decisions. The United States were the main obstacle to progress at the summit and signed neither the climatic convention nor a resolution on the preservation of species. By this time, the optimism of the Reagan years had cooled down and unemployment almost reached 8% in 1991. In this situation, the Democrats had good chances to win the next elections. Gore though was not interested to run, although he wanted to be president and knew his chances had never been better before. He did not take position for a candidate within the Democratic Party. But when Warren Christopher, later Secretary of State, asked him whether he could put him on candidate Bill Clinton's list of possible candidates for Vice President, he did not say no. On July 8, 1992, Bill Clinton, the Democrats candidate, told Gore he was his choice as running mate - and the Senator from Tennessee accepted. At the Democratic Convention of the same month, Clinton had a 10% advantage over Bush in the polls. In May, there had been serious riots in Los Angeles and President Bush the image as a failure on domestic issues.
 
On the national level, Gore was better known than Clinton and, therefore, his choice served to better explain to voters what Clinton stood for. Both were moderate, young and intellectually brilliant Democrats from the South. But they were also complementary. Clinton, as Governor of Arkansas, had executive experience and Gore had served in Congress, in Vietnam and his integrity was above any doubt. Clinton was the man of communication, Gore the man of serious thoughts. Differences on issues had to be overcome. Before, Gore stood on the anti-abortion side. Asked about his sudden change, the Senator claimed he had never stood for anything else. (continued in the right column).



Books, literature by and about Al Gore



Peter Neumann: Al Gore: Eine Biographie, DVA, Stuttgart/Munich, 2000, 195 p. Get it from Amazon.de.
 
Bill Turque: Inventing Al Gore: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin Co, 2000, 448 p. Get it from Amazon.com.
 

Al Gore: Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. Houghton Mifflin Co, reprint 2000 (1992), 416 p. Get it from Amazon.com. UK: Earth in the Balance: Forging a New Common Purpose, Earthscan, 1992. Get it from Amazon.co.uk.
 

David Maraniss, Ellen Nakashima: The Prince of Tennessee: The Rise of Al Gore. Simon & Schuster 2000, 224 p. Get it from Amazon.com or from Get it from Amazon.co.uk.


 

 
Part 2 of the biography of Al Gore
In the television debate between Dan Quayle and Gore, the GOP candidate for Vice President mainly attacked Clinton and his moral failures. Gore responded that Bush was not able to resolve the crisis in Los Angeles and that the country needed "jobs, jobs, jobs". As always, Gore was very well prepared but wooden. The press gave him the nickname "Al Bore". Still, he "won" the debate. 60% preferred him for Vice President, over 32% for Quayle. Ross Perot's man, James Stockdale, had nothing to say but "we will fix the problem" - 7%. On November 3, Clinton and Gore won 43%, Bush and Quayle 38%, Perot and Stockdale 19%. Polls suggested that Gore had decided the race in at least six states for the Democrats. The same evening, Clinton said that Gore would be an important part of his government.
 
At 44, Gore was treated as a "partner" by Clinton. According to Neumann, Gore was the President's first advisor, before Clinton's wife Hillary and the young election campaign manager George Stephanopoulos. Clinton and Gore had promised more state expenditures and at the same time a reduction of the huge deficit, more than 300 billion dollars in 1992. The only way out of the dilemma were higher taxes. To meet his 1994 budget, Clinton put forth the highest rise in taxes since Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, which especially affected companies and the rich. For the rest of the deficit, Gore presented a CO2 tax plan to the President. Clinton decided to implement it. The uproar was great. The Republicans claimed coal prizes would rise 20% and gasoline prices increase 20% (in the U.S., gasoline costs less than a third of what it does in Europe). The big oil companies teamed up with the automobile and the coal industry. The proposition passed the House of Representatives but was rejected by the Senate. In the end, the White House had to abandon its plan for a CO2 tax. A setback not only for the government, but also for the ecology.
 
In 1993, Clinton did what Bush had refused to do by signing the Climate Convention of Rio. But is was a symbolic gesture with no effect as the administration limited its initiatives to voluntary appeals to consumers and companies. In the following years, instead of starting to reduce CO2 output by 50% as foreseen by an ambitious 50-points-plan, the output if carbon dioxide even increased. Clinton and Hillary soon last their high ratings in opinion polls. In March 1993, the President gave Gore another mission: to evaluate the administration's efficiency, thrift and its relationship with the people. In order to avoid new problems, Gore did it in collaboration with the unions, creating the National Partnership Council (NPC). In September, the Vice President submitted his report: in the next five years, $108 billion should be saved and 252,000 jobs eliminated. In March 1998, Gore announced that 351,000 governmental jobs had been cut and 640,000 pages of regulations deleted. More than 30,000 pages had been translated into more understandable language. But there was not only praise. More than half of the jobs stemmed from closed military bases and other reductions of personal in the defense sector. Several governmental duties had been privatized. The GOP was angry that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was the only federal department not to have been cut back. No union member had lost his job. 
 
In November 1993, Al Gore had his most important appearance during his first mandate as Vice President. In a debate with Ross Perot on CNN's "Larry King Live" he discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Signed by President Bush, it still had to be ratified in Congress. Although Clinton, Gore, and the majority of the GOP were in favor of the agreement and against protectionist reflexes, there were opponents in both parties who feared negative effects from the integration of Mexico into a free trade zone. They feared social, ecological and salary dumping. Perot was extremely aggressive and interrupted Gore even when he tried to answer the billionaires questions. With his attitude and his comments, Perot destroyed himself whereas Gore calmly explained NAFTA's advantages without denying that Mexico was no ideal partner and needed some time to reach the level of development of the U.S. At the end of the discussion, Gore gave Perot a photograph showing the two members of Congress who, in 1930, had initiated the devastating custom duties and laws which disconnected the U.S. from the world market and enhanced the Great Depression. Conservative columnist William Safire commented the next day that Gore had razed Perot to the ground. Mexico's democratic developments of recent years probably would not have been possible without NAFTA, which was accepted by the Congress about a week after the televised debate.
 
In early 1994, Gore again played a key role, this time in his disarmament and denuclearization talks with Ukraine. A series of security guaranties, especially the so-called Partnership for Freedom, brought a break-through and, by the end of 1994, was accepted by the Ukrainian parliament. Gore had led the decisive negotiations with President Kravtchuk (Clinton's mother had died two dies before). The Vice President rendered this sign of confidence by downplaying his role and leaving all the merits to Clinton (whose ratings were down to unprecedented 40%, the lowest level since the introduction of these polls). At the mid-term elections in November 1994, almost no Democrat wanted to be seen with Clinton. The GOP introduced its conservative "Contract for America": greater deregulation, a radical reduction of social welfare, a widening of the death penalty, lower taxes and a constitutional amendment forbidding future debts. The GOP won majorities in the House and the Senate, something unseen since 1954.
 
But the comeback-kid Clinton did not follow the blockade-policy advocated by Stephanopoulos and Harold Ickes, both democratic traditionalists. He called Dick Morris, the manager of his Arkansas electoral campaigns. Morris secretly proposed to accept the GOP's agenda, notably to balance the budget, but without hurting the elderly (Medicare). On the foreign policy front, America had to show its strength. In early 1995, Stephanopoulos and Ickes realized what was going on. Al Gore was again a key figure because he backed Morris' strategy and helped break the presidential advisor's influence on Clinton. A journalist in US News & World Report came to the (somewhat reductive) conclusion that it was Gore and not Morris who was responsible for Clinton's reorientation towards the political center. The president managed to neutralize the Republicans. As the federal administration closed down twice at the end of 1995, the GOP's uncompromising attitude was blamed for it, whereas Clinton appeared as a moderate reformer. For the first time in 30 months, Clinton was ahead of his Republican opponent in the polls.
 
Gore fought for his famous V-chip in 1996, a device to give parents the chance to ban sex and violence from television screens. He also managed to get the TV companies to send additional three hours of quality children television per week. Gore also initiated a new fight against tobacco advertising - as a Senator, he had proudly stated being a grandson of a Tennessee tobacco farmer and accepted money from the tobacco industry until seven years after his sister's death from lung cancer in 1984. In 1989, Gore had already helped to introduce legislation that put money into fiber-optic research which helped build the internet and led to Gore's famous claim he had invented the Internet. [Added on July 4, 2008: Al Gore never claimed that he had invented the internet. This was a campaign lie by the Bush team led by Karl Rove. However, Al Gore stressed the importance of his contribution regarding the creation of the internet]. In 1996, the Vice President launched an initiative to connect all American schools to the Internet. Microsoft's Bill Gates donated the software, AOL, Compuserve and others created a special access fee for schools. Despite Clinton's disastrous beginning, the mood had changed and about ten million new jobs had been created (only 20% of them were poorly paid "McJobs"). The unemployment rate had fallen under 5% and inflation was low. The GOP's candidate, Bob Dole, was an old man who could not inspire the American public. In the public debate with the GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, Gore left a self-confident, calm impression whereas Kemp's attacks contrasted with the general publics impression of Clinton's record. 60% of TV viewers saw Gore as the winner. A setback came one week later when the Los Angeles Times revealed illegal campaign money donations to Clinton and Gore. Money came from foreign sources and Gore's aggressive fundraising methods, and calls he illegally made from the White House tarnished his image as Mister Clean. Gore's answers to crucial question were evasive and reminded journalists of Clinton's statement that he smoked pot, but did not inhale. Still, Clinton managed to win the elections with 49.9% (Dole garnered 41.5%. Ross Perot, who had stepped into the race in the last minute, made only 8.6%.
 
In 1997, Gore presented a new plan to deal with the ecological problems, the commerce with emission rights in order to reduce CO2 output. In November 1997 came the Kyoto conference, which was designated to deal with the global problem. Gore traveled to the conference and made a great show, placing American flags besides the speaker's platform imported directly from the White House. The first two rows in the hall were reserved for the White House press corps, with nameplates on the chairs. Despite this "imperialist" gestures, Gore was credited to have contributed with a last minute breakthrough. 38 industrial nations agreed to reduce the carbon dioxide output by an average of 5.2% until 2010. But in August 1998, the White House declared the Kyoto treaty to be incomplete and faulty. The nearest date for the Senate to discuss it would be 2001. Clinton made it clear that this was not his baby and that the next president, possibly Gore, should resolve the problems related to its implementation.
 
In 1998, Gore claimed he and his wife Tipper had been the models for Erich Segal's Love Story. Another one of Gore's famous "embellishments". [Added on July 4, 2008: A few years ago, I was told that Al Gore was the model for Erich Segal's book]. Jokes by David Letterman and Jay Leno were inevitable. The Lewinsky scandal was more serious and it was a dilemma for Gore. He had been successful as Vice President because he had always been loyal Clinton and, therefore, had more liberties and influence than any other man in his position before. Gore feared Clinton's removal from office. He remembered that the virtuous Gerald Ford, who had led the country for two years, had had no chance to get elected after Nixon's removal. Therefore, on the day of the House of Representatives' vote on Clinton's Impeachment, Gore said Clinton would enter history as one of the great American presidents. The Vice President survived the Lewinsky crisis undamaged because Clinton's ratings rose again and the Republicans overused the theme.
 
In order to dissuade Democratic candidates to announce themselves, Gore decided to make his decision to run for President as early as possible. His most fervent defender was Clinton. He knew Gore had stood on his side all the way through, always kept a low profile and left the laurels to him. As early as 1996, Clinton told Dick Morris he would have to help Gore become the Democratic candidate in the year 2000, if possible without an opponent within the party. The Vice President had the image of a new Democrat. He had to win the union's support again. Suddenly, he started to speak at union congresses and appear at strikes. In October 1999, the AFL-CIO, with its 15 million members, decided to indorse Gore. In order to win the support of the left wing Democrats, Gore chose Communitarism as the solution. Its central notions are community and responsibility. Communitarism stresses the active and positive role of the state which assures the equality of chances, but offers incentives instead of state programs. Therefore, it is seen by many as an alternative to capitalism and socialism and more or less acceptable for the Democrats' left wing. Gore stands for a grass roots revolution by networks of communitary organizations. He also supports abortion rights, the American's women's right to "make that decision for themselves". He is against the privatization of social security, against the raise of Medicare costs and the lowering of its benefits. Gore opposes tax cuts "that imperil our prosperity". Instead, he wants to strengthen Medicare and pay off the American debt. He stresses the importance of education and favors stronger gun control. He wants to "get the guns away from children and criminals, once and for all." Criminal teenagers should get a second chance. Gore stands for a "strong" America which advocates democracy, free trade and its "national interests" worldwide.
 
In his campaign, Gore distanced himself from Clinton's inexcusable affair with Monica Lewinsky. He chose Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, one of the few outspoken Democrats on Clinton's "sexgate", but who, in the end, did not vote for the impeachment. On his way to the Democratic investiture, Gore had only one serious contender, Bill Bradley. The former Senator from New Jersey is too old and too close to Gore. Their voting record in the Senate is 80% identical. Bradley is like Gore in favor of free trade and the abortion rights. But the former basketball star is also for the death penalty - which did not win him the support of the civil-rights wing of the Democrats. Still, Bradley was able to profit from mistakes by Gore and his electoral team. The Vice President wanted all the best and most expensive advisors in his team. He wanted to integrate all the party's wings in his headquarters, but the result was the party's divisions fractured his team. Among his advisors were members who had fought each others for years. Suddenly, Bradley became a danger. Gore and his team reacted almost in panic. In October 1999, Bradley had reached Gore's level of intended votes in several states. Gore sacked several campaign managers and moved his headquarters from Washington to Nashville, Tennessee. He started to attack Bradley's vague program. Gore reminded the public that, in 1996, the New Jersey Senator had voted against the new social welfare law and, in the 1980s, in favor of financial aides to Nicaragua's Contras. He had also favored the continuation of nuclear weapon tests. In 1996, Bradley had retired from politics. Gore called it desertion whereas he stayed in the frontline when Newt Gingrich "took over" the Congress. In the end, Bradley was not able to win a single state in the Democratic primaries, not even in New Jersey which he had represented for 18 years in the Senate.
 
The polls predict a close race between Gore and the Republican candidate George W. Bush Jr. The Vice President is still stiff, wooden and has problems to relate to a broader audience whereas Bush does not seem to be on Gore's level of expertise in topical issues. It seems that the presidential debates will decide the race. The outcome is unclear. Gore has shown to be an able man, but in contrast to Bush, he has no real executive experience. It is one thing to be a valuable advisor to the President and another, to lead the world's only superpower. Intellectual brilliance does not necessary translate into good government, as the examples of Nixon, Carter and Clinton show. But Bush, despite his popularity, does not have a brilliant record as Governor of Texas and no experience in foreign policy. Both politicians are moderate, centrists. Should the candidates and campaign staffers start to panic towards the end of the presidential race, we could well see ugly attacks from both sides, a resurgence of dirty politics.

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