- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Somebody find the hook. We've got to get that guy outta here. It's all over, Al.

The educated good ol' boy with the improbable uptown name, N. Sanders Sauls, wrote finis in a Florida courtroom to Al Gore's improbable pursuit of a judicial presidency in plain and unadorned English, shorn of all but the necessary legalese that lawyers use to confuse us.

The vice president, said Judge Sauls, "failed to carry the requisite burden of proof."

George W.'s 537-vote margin is all he needs to win Florida's 25 electoral votes, certified by the State of Florida. That certification looks ever more likely to stand. Al can hide for a day or two longer, but there's no place left to run.

The plain English employed by Judge Sauls was contagious. David Boies, Al's $800-an-hour mouthpiece who usually uses two dozen $1.98 words when two or three of the nickel-and-dime variety would suffice, said it with unaccustomed economy: "They won. We lost. We're appealing."

Well, of course. But this time there seems to be scant grounds for appeal. Even this Florida Supreme Court will be limited to a consideration of the law, and whether Judge Sauls interpreted it correctly. But not the evidence. The evidence is wholly within the purview of the trial court. The trial court said Al had none. The law, as set out by Judge Sauls, looks clear enough.

Not only that, but the Florida court is aware, at the cost of considerable pain and humiliation, that a higher court is looking closely over the shoulders of the men and women on the Tallahassee bench. If it's any consolation to Al, and it isn't, he's not the only player who got a spanking yesterday. The Florida supremes took an awful public licking at the hands of the United States Supreme Court, which barely disguised its contempt for the Tallahassee handiwork.

"After reviewing the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court," the justices in Washington said, "we find that there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision."

There was more: "It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions of such cases." [Italics mine].

Stripped of the polite language judges invariably use in expressing their contempt for hacks of the bar, the court was saying: "It's fairly obvious that you ladies and gents can't write in the English language, but you can't read it, either." You could almost hear Ruth Bader Ginsburg whispering to David H. Souter: "Hiring the handicapped is a wonderful and noble thing to do, but do they have to put the seven biggest dopes in Florida on the state Supreme Court?" Or Antonin Scalia saying, sotto voce, to Clarence Thomas: "Did the mail-order barber and beauty college where the Florida supremes got their law degrees never require any of them to attend class?"

This entire post-election charade, unique in the annals of the bizarre, reeks of partisan guile and the cultivation of illiteracy in the pursuit of ignorance. The fundamental argument employed by Al and his lawyers is that his voters are too dumb to punch holes in paper, and Democrats ought to be allowed to count the votes as many times as it takes to come up with the correct sums. Al's first "victims" were the elderly Jewish widows of Palm Beach "Holocaust survivors" in the tender description of the Left Rev. Jesse Jackson, the man who famously called New York City "Hymietown." The Jewish widows thought maybe they might have cast their votes for Pat Buchanan.

When all the crocodile tears were wrung from that exercise, the eminent Baptist divine argued that it wasn't just elderly Jewish widows who had been disenfranchised, but African Americans, too, who were so confused by the complexities of the ballot (designed by deceitful white folks) and oppressed by wicked segregationists with snarling police dogs that thousands of black voters had run from the polling places in terror. It was worse than Selma, or at least as bad as Soweto. Wasn't that Bull Connor with a fire hose? Or maybe it was Orval Faubus with a horse whip. Just like Republicans to call two Democrats back from the dead to do the dirty work. How else explain the record turnout of black voters?

This is the measure of Al's contempt for the rituals of democracy. "I'll do anything to win," Al told us during the campaign that is now but a distant echo in tin ears. But this time, maybe, the bad guys won't win after all.

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