- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2000

Wednesday night's presidential debate was a home run for Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Mr. Bush was at ease with himself, very much in command of the facts, and displayed the kind of self-deprecating humor that has always served politicians well in this country. Like Ronald Reagan in 1980, Mr. Bush reassured American viewers that he was fully capable of being presidential, in style as well as substance.

One could not say that for his opponent, who, having been instructed by his handlers not to be condescending and rude, clearly did not know who he was supposed to be. Vice President Al Gore dished himself a slice of humble pie, acknowledged some of his errors of the past debate and gave the appearance of trying to be on his best behavior. But after spinning tall tales for the national media, flip-flopping on important issues and reinventing himself throughout the past 13 years, Mr. Gore still could not help himself. The compulsive prevaricator dissembled on energy taxes, foreign policy, the Kyoto environmental treaty and his own role in the supposed reinvention of government.

Mr. Gore confirmed he still believed, as he had written in his 1992 apocalyptic environmental treatise, "Earth in the Balance," that there "must be a wrenching transformation to save the planet." Also, earlier this year Mr. Gore said he would not retract anything from his book. But he did just that during the debate. "I'm not in favor of energy taxes," asserted Mr. Gore, who, in fact, was the principal advocate of the administration's failed BTU 1993 tax proposal, which, by President Clinton's own admission, would have cost the average middle-class family at least $1,600 in higher energy taxes during his two terms. Moreover, on page 173 in "Earth in the Balance," Mr. Gore argued that "higher taxes on fossil fuels" would be "one of the logical first steps in changing our policies." In a list of nine priorities for a "worldwide" Strategic Environment Initiative page 320 the first duty would be the implementation of "tax incentives for the new technologies and disincentives for the old." What is a tax "disincentive" if it is not a tax increase?

In the second debate, as in the first, George W. Bush criticized the Clinton-Gore administration's propensity for "nation building," citing such foolish endeavors pursued in Haiti and Somalia. In response, Mr. Gore simply rewrote history. He blamed the 1993 military and foreign-policy fiasco in Somalia on "ill-considered" policies of "the previous administration, the Bush-Quayle administration." In fact, President Bush only authorized a humanitarian mission to alleviate a Somali famine. It was the Clinton-Gore administration that upgraded the mission to "nation-building operations," in the words of then-U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright, who emphatically supported the idea. Less than two months later, 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in a firefight pursuing the "military component" of the Clinton-Gore administration's "nation-building operations," and the policy lay in ruins, only to be unsuccessfully resurrected in Haiti, a mission that Mr. Gore continues to defend.

Mr. Gore was equally disingenuous regarding the ill-advised Kyoto environmental treaty, the final negotiations for which he personally oversaw in Japan in December 1997. The Kyoto protocols would require 38 industrialized nations to drastically reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, while developing countries, including India and China, need only set voluntary targets. If implemented, the Kyoto treaty would cause U.S. prices for crude oil (i.e., gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, etc.), coal and other fossil fuels to soar, imposing, in effect, an astronomical backdoor energy tax. Indeed, in the nearly three years since the treaty was signed, the Clinton-Gore administration has yet to submit it for ratification, knowing that the public would certainly revolt against the treaty's costs.

And, of course, Mr. Gore once again reminded viewers that his government-reinvention project has "reduced the size of government by more than 300,000 people." Well, as it happens, according to page 280 in the Historical Tables of the administration's 2001 budget proposal, the Department of Defense accounts for 286,000 or 94 percent of the 305,000 fewer government employees on the federal payroll in 1999 compared to 1992. Leave it to Al Gore to decimate the Pentagon and then claim credit for reducing the federal bureaucracy.

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