- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2000

On Monday Vice President Al Gore announced the "second American revolution." As president, he would lead the charge to wire the nation, making sure everyone had the opportunity to be online. "The next Thomas Edison or Marie Curie may be a child waiting in a ghetto or a rural hollow for the tools to learn and experiment," the vice president rhapsodized. "Let's get him or her wired and online."

It turns out that Mr. Gore needn't have looked for underserved poor children any further than his own backyard, only their needs are more basic. Tenants of Mr. Gore, who rent a house from Gore Realty within eyesight of the vice president's Carthage, Tenn., farm, live in squalid conditions that his property managers have allowed to fester for more than a year. Their toilets routinely overflow, raw sewage leaks from the base of a commode and foul-smelling mud comes up through their sink.

For more than a year, Tracy Mayberry, who lives with her disabled husband and five children, including a mentally retarded daughter and a daughter with a seizure disorder, complained to Mr. Gore's property manager about the problems. When her husband, who suffers from congestive heart disease and diabetes, begged once again for a plumber not long ago, Gore Realty responded three days later with an eviction notice sent by certified mail. Finally, Mrs. Mayberry appealed to a local television station, whose cameras confirmed the intolerable conditions under which Mr. Gore's rent-paying neighbors were forced to live.

The day after the Nashville television station aired his tenants' conditions, Mr. Gore, in an effort to control the political damage, called Mrs. Mayberry. "He told me he was sorry for all the problems, that he was unaware of them which I consider to be a lie," Mrs. Mayberry told Bill Sammon of The Washington Times. Mrs. Mayberry also said Mr. Gore promised to "rent us a comfortable home to live in [and] pay the rent on it till the house got renovated here and then move us back in. But I'm beginning to question that, too." Indeed, two days after Mr. Gore promised to relocate her family while the repairs were being made, the vice president's Tennessee attorney, James Bass, arrived with a plumber and announced that the family would remain in the sewer hole while it was being repaired. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mayberry had taken her children to her parents because of the house's stench, and she was seeking accommodations for herself in a truck for a couple of days because she could no longer tolerate the squalid conditions.

There seems to be no limit to Al Gore's compassion when it comes to spending taxpayers' money on the theoretical high-tech needs of poor children in general. But when it comes to real children he is actually obliged to serve by a rental agreement if not by his high-minded principles suddenly he becomes much more stingy. This embarrassing episode is a reminder of Mr. Gore's gracious $353 contribution to charity in 1998.

Before Mr. Gore presumes to lecture the nation about funding his revolutionary ideals across the country, perhaps he should start living up to them at home.

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