- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2000

When Bill Bradley grew tired of persistent misrepresentations in a primary debate, he asked Algore: “When you don't tell the truth as a candidate, how can people trust you to tell the truth when you are president?” This wasn't the first time a major Democrat figure leveled such a serious charge at Algore. In 1988, an exasperated Michael Dukakis told presidential candidate Algore: “If you want to be president of the United States, you better start by being accurate.”

Now, George W. Bush has joined these two prominent Democrats in warning the people about Algore's losing battles with the truth. Bush described Algore this way: “His misrepresentations are serious business — not the legitimate debate of political disagreements. They are a disturbing pattern of embellishments and sudden reversals.”

Bush was referring to a string of inexplicable, arguably weird, statements by Algore over the past few weeks. Algore said his mother-in-law pays three times more for her arthritis medicine than he pays for the same medicine for his dog. This dog and mother-in-law story was made up. At a union conference, Algore told the Teamsters that “Remember the Union Label” was “one of the lullabies” his parents sang to him as a child. In fact, the song was not written until 1975 — when little Algore was 27 years old. Algore claimed to have been involved in setting up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The truth is that the oil reserve was set up and funded in 1975, two years before Algore became a member of Congress.

Before proceeding, it is also only fair to concede that nobody is perfect; we all misspeak from time to time. We get dates and facts wrong. We exaggerate to make a good story even better. It's only human to do these things. But these all-too-human aberrations are not what is at issue. At issue is whether Algore's ongoing struggle with the truth has escalated into an ongoing struggle with reality.

In an interview last April, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications, commented upon the relationship between Algore's behavior and his fitness to serve as president: “You wonder if it's a failure to listen or an impulse to deceive … The question is, is there a basic personality flaw there that will make it more difficult for him to be president? Is there a tendency to exaggerate? Is there a tendency to reconstruct the past? When you start counting on the fingers of both hands you start to say maybe there's a pattern here.”

There is no “maybe” about the pattern of fabrications, exaggerations, and flip-flops. Algore claimed that he invented the Internet, that he and Tipper were the models for Erich Segal's novel, “Love Story,” that as an investigative reporter he “got a bunch of people indicted and sent to jail,” that he was a cosponsor of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, that he was always pro-choice on abortion, that in Vietnam he spent most of his time in the field and was fired upon by the enemy, that he had a private meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, that he negotiated Internet protection for children, that he had a major impact on Hubert Humphrey's 1968 presidential acceptance speech, that half of his 1988 presidential campaign staff were women, that he totally renounced his connections to tobacco after the death of his sister from lung cancer, that his sister was the very first volunteer for the Peace Corps, that his father was a leader in the civil rights movement, that he did not know he was in the middle of a fund raiser at the California Buddhist Temple in 1996, that he did not know his fund-raising phone calls from his government office were illegal, and that he did not know anything about the millions of dollars illegally funneled into the Democrat Party by agents of communist China.

All of these claims and boasts are documentably false, and some of them are arguably delusional. We have in clear view the picture of a deeply insecure man, uncomfortable with himself, and too fragile to hear or tell the hard truth — a man who phonies up the past to appear smarter, more worthy, and more substantive than he really is.

Algore's propensity to mangle the truth appears compulsive in that, although warned about it by his advisers, he apparently cannot stop himself. Is this a man we can trust to keep his word, honor his promises, and restore our faith in government?

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