- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2000

For all those serious journalists, political scientists and other voter-turnout enthusiasts who can be found on C-SPAN grappling with the tragedy of low voter interest, the two-fisted politics of Al Gore may put an end to this heavily ruminated-upon problem. Like a male Chihuahua attempting sexual congress with an Irish Wolfhound, Mr. Gore's seeking the presidency is hilariously engrossing.

An entertainment-crazed public should switch channels from Regis Philbin to CNN so as not to miss a single Gore gambit. Once they watch Mr. Gore, even once, they'll be hooked for the season. If I were running GOP-TV, I would switch from covering Republican press conferences to "All Gore All The Time." After all, the father of the Internet has become the mother of all political humorists. He has become the greatest deadpan political satirist since the late Pat Paulson, who also ran for president several times, although not while wearing earth tones in the balance.

It is an impressive oeuvre that Mr. Gore is assembling. Although there were many wonderful moments from which to chose from his claim to being the Thomas Edison of the Internet to being the Bulldog Drummond of Love Canal until last week, my personal favorite was the ice tea routine. In this inventive sketch the president's former chief of staff testified to investigators that he had observed Vice President Gore in a key White House fund-raising meeting. Mr. Gore was paying close attention as the president's men were explaining the allegedly criminal component of the vice-president's fund raising responsibilities. There are reported to be photographs showing Al Gore focusing his vaunted intellectual powers on the inculpatory documents. For a less gifted humorist such as Richard Nixon this would have been a moment when comedy turned into tragedy.

But Vice President Gore understands that at dangerous moments, always return to the comedy basics. From Aristophanes to Chaucer to Groucho Marx, bodily functions have been the base on which true comedy is built. So, in the way that nobody can duplicate, Al Gore, with one eye twinkling on an otherwise deadened face, explains his ignorance of events in that criminal meeting by mentioning that he was drinking a lot of ice tea that day wink, wink, nod, nod, get the point? Say what you will about Al Gore, he always makes sure he's got a pot to … use. But as diverting as was the ice tea routine, it is destined to be classified as part of Al Gore's early works.

With Al Gore's gambit into the Elian Gonzalez affair, we can see aborning the classical, or mature period of the Gore oeuvre. For those of us who love both comedic politics and music, this is like being present when Beethoven created a dissonant C sharp in the seventh measure of his Eroica Symphony, compelling a departure from the common chord, thus creating a dynamic disequilibrium that provided the driving impetus of the movement (see Maynard Solomon's Beethoven; Schirmer Books, copyright 1977.) And that is exactly what Mr. Gore has done.

By endorsing the Miami Cubans' position on little Elian, he has departed from the common Democratic Party chord, thus creating a dynamic disequilibrium. Just listen to the disequilibrium. The Washington Post's redoubtable Mary McGrory writes: "How low can Al go? Just when we needed Solomon … we got Al Gore at his crassest." New York Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano was "shocked and outraged."

Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle, no piker when it comes to deadpan comedy himself, is quoted by The Washington Post as "not questioning Gore's motives," but saying; "This is as despicable a situation as I've seen in a long, long time, and I'm troubled by that."

The Democrat Lee Hamilton, former House Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said he was "very disappointed. [Gore will] deny it, but people won't accept his denials. I think it has cost in terms of his reputation for convictions and commitment." Democratic ranking Ways and Means committee member Charley Rangel thinks Mr. Gore's support for the Miami Cubans "hurts Gore throughout the country in terms of credibility." But just as Beethoven's dissonant C sharp gets resolved at the end of the first movement of the Eroica Symphony, so Mr. Gore's advisers are quoted, on background in The Washington Post, assuring upset Democrats that Mr. Gore's move was not about Elian. It wasn't even about winning Florida's 25 electoral votes. It was about keeping "Florida's 25 electoral votes in play."

In other words, Al Gore the champion of campaign-finance reform endorsed little Elian Gonzalez's stay in America in order to force George Bush to raise and spend an extra $3 million in Florida during the general election. And people say that Mr. Gore doesn't have a sense of humor.

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