- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2000

Vice President Al Gore has apparently learned his lessons well from Bill Clinton, the master of manipulation and obstructionism. Indeed he's learned them so well that his campaign even resorted to the old affidavit ruse to distance itself from allegations that it had planted a mole inside George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

Recall how Mr. Clinton relied on affidavits to try to deal with stories linking him to trysts with women not his wife, among them former lover Gennifer Flowers. In a telephone conversation taped by Ms. Flowers, then-Gov. Clinton advised her, "It would be extremely valuable just to have … an on-file affidavit explaining, you know, you were approached by a Republican and [were] asked to do that" i.e., allege a sexual relationship with Mr. Clinton. And of course there was the false affidavit filed by Monica Lewinsky, in which she denied a sexual relationship with Mr. Clinton.

Fast forward to the recent spate of stories tying the Gore campaign to the "mole." The controversy began Sept. 13 when former Rep. Thomas Downey, who is helping prepare Mr. Gore for the presidential debates, received in the mail copies of Mr. Bush's debate-related briefing materials and a 90-minute videotape of a mock debate involving Mr. Bush and a Gore stand-in. Mr. Downey's lawyer gave the material to the FBI. The Gore campaign denied any role in mailing the package and suggested it may have been a setup by the Bush campaign.

Then things got interesting. In an investigation of the caper, ABC News learned that Michael Doyne, a Nashville-based Gore staffer, had been bragging about a "mole" planted in Mr. Bush's campaign. It turns out Mr. Doyne first boasted about the mole in an Aug. 30 face-to-face chat with a friend and later put it in writing in an e-mail dated Sept. 11, two days before the package arrived at Mr. Downey's office. As it happens, on Sept. 11 Yvette Lozano, a worker for Mr. Bush's media consultant, who has worked for years for Democratic politicians, was videotaped by a Postal Service security camera dropping an Express Mail package into an Austin mailbox. She says she was returning a pair of pants for her boss. Mr. Doyne initially denied to ABC News that he ever said or wrote anything about a "mole." As the New York Times reported Monday, Mr. Doyne even provided ABC News with, ahem, an affidavit to that effect.

Confronted with the e-mail, Mr. Doyne changed his story and admitted bragging about having a "mole" in the Bush campaign, but it was all a joke, the product of his own imagination. He then signed another affidavit amending the first one. The American people perhaps can be forgiven if they insist on something a little more substantial than that.

However, through Tuesday the FBI had not interviewed Mr. Doyne or any other Gore staffer. Instead, the FBI has been concentrating on senior officials in Mr. Bush's campaign and Ms. Lozano. Over the weekend, moreover, an anonymous federal law enforcement official leaked information to the Associated Press suggesting that the investigation was centering on the Bush campaign. Karen Hughes, Mr. Bush's communications director, publicly deplored the leak; vigorously and convincingly denied any involvement by senior Bush officials; and questioned why no Gore staffers, particularly Mr. Doyne, had yet received a visit from the FBI. Good question.

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