- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000


It has been 67 days since Al Gore held his last press conference. As The Washington Post reported this week, Mr. Gore "rarely makes an appearance where he runs the risk of a spontaneous exchange."
"I can't hear you," he said recently to an inquiring Postie, cupping a vice presidential hand to a vice presidential ear as he pointed to an air conditioner that was turned off. "I can see your lips moving, but I can't hear you. We'll have a chance to talk later." (Sounds cozy. The talk never happened.)
It seems the vice president has a veritable phobia of "spontaneous exchanges." After all, they're spontaneous. They sometimes require spontaneous answers. Just remember how one young woman, appearing uninvited at a New Hampshire town meeting, reduced Mr. Gore's down-pat patter to babble with an unexpected query about whether Mr. Gore believed Juanita Broaddrick's charge of rape against Bill Clinton.
But there remain urgent allegations against Mr. Gore that he must answer spontaneously or not, before Americans go to the polls in November. These include not only the more or less familiar charges concerning funny money but also other examples most of which haven't received too much ink in the papers or television time that relate directly to the concerns of Mr. Gore's critics that he is driven, in every political fiber, by the belief that his ends justify his means.
Take the following charge, one of the most shocking ever made against a politician and that, of course, is saying something. According to former Sen. Alan Simpson, writing in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Al Gore, in effect, sold his 1991 Senate vote on whether to send American troops into battle during the Gulf War for 20 minutes of prime debate time on the Senate floor.
As Mr. Simpson tells it, then-Sen. Gore came to see Bob Dole, then-Senate majority leader, and Mr. Simpson, then-Senate majority whip, on the eve of the Gulf War debate to find out how much floor time he would be given if he were to support President Bush's decision to go to war. After Mr. Dole agreed to give Mr. Gore 20 minutes 13 minutes more than the 7 minutes the Democrats had allotted him Mr. Dole asked Howard Greene, the Republican Senate secretary, to inform Mr. Gore's office that they would also try to schedule Mr. Gore's speech during prime time. "Later that night," writes Mr. Simpson, "Sen. Gore called Greene and asked if Sen. Dole had scheduled him for a prime-time speaking slot. When Greene said nothing had been finalized yet, Gore erupted. 'Damn it, Howard! If I don't get 20 minutes tomorrow I'm going to vote the other way.' "
This is the kind of unsavory politicking, according to Mr. Simpson, that went into what Mr. Gore calls the most difficult vote of his life "an act of moral courage," opined Gore biographer Bob Zelnick. Of course, so it seemed until Mr. Simpson piped up. "It brings me no joy to recount the events leading up to the Gulf War vote," Mr. Simpson writes, explaining that he decided to speak out because of a Gore campaign television ad about the Gulf War vote. "It isn't something I wanted to do," Mr. Simpson continues. "But it is something I have to do. I was there."
Alan Simpson has made an incredible charge. But he is a credible source. How will Mr. Gore, now seeking to become the next commander-in-chief, respond?
Another troubling charge Mr. Gore has not yet had to answer is laid out in breathtaking detail in David P. Schipper's extraordinary bestseller, "Sellout: The Inside Story of President Clinton's Impeachment." Mr. Schippers, a Democrat who was the former chief investigative counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, details an outrageous Clinton-Gore administration effort he calls it a "pressure campaign" to force the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to speed up the naturalization process of 1 million aliens, most of whom were deemed likely Democratic voters, in time for the 1996 elections. As Mr. Schippers put it in a Wall Street Journal essay, "The handling of this pressure campaign, the end result of which was the circumvention of long-established policies at the INS, was left to Mr. Gore." Under considerable duress from top Gore aides, the INS simply skipped thousands of FBI background and fingerprint checks designed to prevent felons from becoming citizens.
As a result, Mr. Schippers writes, "The U.S. got 75,000 new citizens who had arrest records when they applied; an additional 115,000 citizens whose fingerprints were unclassifiable and were never resubmitted; and a final 61,000 who were given citizenship without even having their fingerprints submitted."
If this is "reinventing government," Mr. Gore has a lot of explaining to do if, that is, he is ever compelled to answer any questions.

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