- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

What rational person could possibly have accepted either of the two offers Al Gore made to George W. Bush Wednesday evening?

First, Mr. Gore proposed to complete manual recounts "already begun in Palm Beach County, [Miami-]Dade County and Broward County to determine the true intentions of the voters based on an objective evaluation of their ballots." Consider two examples of his phrasing. "Already begun"? In fact, the election boards of both Broward and Miami-Dade Counties initially voted not to pursue countywide manual recounts after sample recounts proved them to be unwarranted. After the Democratic Party took Broward County to court to force it to conduct a countywide manual recount, its election board caved in. "Objective"? The Florida Democratic Party sued to permit Palm Beach County to recognize as legitimate votes so-called "pregnant chads," which are nothing more than unperforated indentations on punch cards. Incredibly, a judge agreed.

Then, after these manual recount results derived exclusively from heavily Democratic counties were added to the vote total including the overseas ballots scheduled to be counted Saturday morning, Mr. Gore "will abide by the result," so he says. "I will take no legal action to challenge the result, and I will not support any legal action to challenge the result," he continued. It's worth noting that Mr. Gore could not prevent further lawsuits filed by others, who have been only too happy to respond to winks and nods from the Gore campaign to flood the Florida court system with at least a dozen suits to date.

Mr. Gore's second offer only seemed to embody the fairness that his first clearly lacked. In the midst of chaotic manual recounts, Mr. Gore proposed to extend that debacle throughout the state, a project which he inexplicably estimated would take a mere seven days. In fact, it took Palm Beach County nine hours to manually count only 1 percent of its votes. Working 24 hours a day at that rate, Palm Beach County would not be done for more than five weeks. Mr. Gore again pledged to abide by the result and to pursue no further legal action. Apart from the inadvisability of extending this arbitrary process, another major obstacle loomed. At this stage of the process, there simply is no legal provision for statewide recounts.

Beyond Mr. Gore's lack of personal credibility which his previous actions have engendered, the actions of his agents, which have been pursued beneath the radar, put the lie to his pretense to wanting an honorable agreement. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Bob Beckel, a political hack with close ties to former Secretary of State Warren Christopher has been investigating the backgrounds of Republican electors. Why? Because even if Mr. Gore loses Florida's 25 electoral votes, he can still win the presidency by convincing blackmailing? three GOP electors to vote for him instead of Mr. Bush. Indeed, Mr. Gore's spokesman, the hatchet-wielding Chris Lehane, has already observed that half the states do not legally require their appointed electors to vote for the candidate to whom they are committed.

When confronted with the possibility of losing power, Mr. Gore operates according to only one rule play to win.

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