- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Don't cry for Al. Losing was his salvation.

Al is like one of the dogs at the greyhound park. If a greyhound actually catches the mechanical rabbit he's trained to chase around the track, he'll never run after it again. The dog learns that chasing, not catching, is the game.

Al had to be saved from learning the awful truth about the mechanical rabbit. There's got to be a succession of "next years" for Al, who has been running all his life.

Now that Florida has awarded its 25 electoral votes, and with them the presidency, to George W., we can all get on with the rest of our lives. Save the tears for the lawyers.

Lawyers are the losers in Florida. The best estimate is that there are 500 Democratic trial lawyers at work down there for Al. At $750 an hour which is what David Boies charges his clients and Al certainly wouldn't discriminate against the rest of the lawyers, some being black, Hispanic and/or female that comes to $375,000 an hour, just for lawyers.

Not all of them expect to get paid, of course, but if they don't they can try to charge it off to bad debt on their tax returns. Pro bono, to a lawyer, only means laying it off on unsuspecting innocents. The Internal Revenue Service should make a note, as it probably has.

It's not just the money, because trial lawyers, as we know, are not in it for the money. It's about reputation, and some of our leading legal reputations have taken a severe licking in Florida.

David Boies, to begin with. Mr. Boies arrived in Florida fresh from dismantling Microsoft and reducing Bill Gates' fortune from all the money in the world to merely most of the money in the world. He's the superlawyer of the year, the man who never loses. He would dismantle George W. singlehandedly, and send George W.'s lawyers fleeing into the swamps in clouds of chads. Nearly every talking head on television told us so.

The John Marshalls, Learned Hands and Oliver Wendell Holmeses of the Florida Supreme Court swallowed the hype whole, bought his bloviation disguised as argument and sealed so everyone thought the theft of the state's 25 votes with its ruling that vote canvassers should keep on counting until they found enough dimples, indentations, penumbras and emanations to translate into the winning margin for Al Gore. The clincher was Mr. Boies' learned citation of an Illinois case that, so he said, had validated the counting of dimpled chads in an Illinois election.

When George W. filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Superlawyer who's never wrong shrugged and predicted that the Supreme Court would never intervene in the case. This word apparently did not reach Washington, however, because the court promptly announced that it would, too, intervene, and Mr. Boies had until Wednesday to get his brief to Washington. That's brief, the court said, not briefs. Ah, yes, said Mr. Boies (it rhymes with "noise"), he had known all the time that the court would take the case.

Then the Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Superlawyer's citation of the Illinois case was all wet, too. Mr. Boies had got the citation exactly backwards, the kind of mistake a first-year paralegal from a second-rate correspondence-course law school would know better than to make.

Or maybe it wasn't a mistake. A superlawyer never knows what he can get by with until he tries, particularly with a supreme court in the land of rednecks, alligators, lovebugs and trailer-park yankees on the lam.

And what is there to say about the humiliation of that Supreme Court in Florida, held up by the U.S. Supreme Court as a gang of partisan jacklegs who can't cite straight? Not much, as it turns out, and now they'll be at the mercy of a Florida Legislature of angry Republicans, and lucky if they'll be allowed to keep their parking spaces.

Alan Dershowitz suddenly doesn't look so hot, either. The Harvard perfesser, once the brightest bulb in the faculty lounge, has reduced himself to low wattage with his hysterics night after night on the cable-TV rabble-and-rant shows, dissing Katherine Harris as "corrupt" and a "criminal" simply because she wouldn't agree with his misinterpretation of the law. The perfesser has been hanging out with his clients, O.J. and Klaus von Bulow, so long that he seems to regard women with the contempt his clients do. Katherine Harris should be grateful she did not have to celebrate Thanksgiving in the company of that trio with a turkey and a carving knife.

James Baker, George W.'s Florida mouthpiece (and whatever happened to Warren Christopher?), offered a piece of free advice to the lawyers just after Florida certified the winner. "It's time," he said, "for the lawyers to go home."

Stipulated, and further no deponent knoweth.

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