- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 12, 2000

CHICAGO Vice President Al Gore yesterday revealed his favorite book and movie to Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime talk television. But he faced his toughest queries after the telecast ended.
Miss Winfrey, the high priestess of self-help, spirituality and what some might call psychobabble, kicked off the 15th season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with a live interview of Mr. Gore, who drew applause by intimating that his wife is his "soul mate."
The vice president eager to score points with the show's mostly female audience got nothing but softball questions from his hostess. Miss Winfrey, who has given $16,000 in campaign contributions to Democrats since 1992, asked about Mr. Gore's childhood memories and favorite music.
After the broadcast ended, however, Mr. Gore was pressed about the Clinton-Gore administration's fund-raising abuses when he took questions from the studio audience.
One man in the audience asked Mr. Gore to promise that, as president, he would not allow fund-raising sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom or fund-raising coffees in the White House and would not take part in events like the 1996 fund-raiser at the Buddhist temple in California.
Mr. Gore tried to answer the question by reiterating his support of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform measure, said Newsday writer Bill Douglas, who heard the exchange while acting as "pool" reporter for the event.
But the vice president's questioner would not be deterred. The man again asked Mr. Gore whether he would promise not to engage in such activities. Mr. Gore said he would make such a promise.
In another off-camera exchange after the show ended, Mr. Gore suggested to Miss Winfrey that he and wife Tipper had reacted with disbelief to revelations about President Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
"Did you and Tipper talk about it over dinner and say 'Can you believe …?' " the hostess asked.
"I'm not giving you any exact quotes," Mr. Gore said, "[but] you're in the ballpark."
Mr. Gore's answers seemed tailored to Miss Winfrey's female viewers.
"We're not human beings who occasionally have a spiritual experience," Mr. Gore said at one point. "We're spiritual beings having a human experience."
Mr. Gore told one questioner that the greatest problem facing the nation is "the fact that we need more meaning in our national life."
Miss Winfrey asked the vice president to list his favorite things.
Mr. Gore said his favorite film is "Local Hero." The 1983 film, starring Burt Lancaster, is the story of a man who prevents a Texas oil company executive from building a refinery in a Scottish fishing village.
Not coincidentally, Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush and his running mate, Richard B. Cheney, are both former Texas oil executives. Mr. Bush will appear on "Oprah" next Tuesday.
Mr. Gore said his favorite book, besides the Bible, is "The Red and the Black," a 19th-century French novel by Robert Stendahl.
Mr. Gore said his favorite quote is "those who are not busy being born are busy dying" from a Bob Dylan song titled "It's All Right Ma, I'm Only Bleeding."
Miss Winfrey asked Mr. Gore his "favorite thing to sleep in." The vice president smiled slyly and replied, "A bed." Mr. Gore's wife, Tipper, once told an interviewer that the vice president sleeps in the buff.
Mr. Gore said the Beatles are his favorite musical group. His favorite season is spring. His favorite meal is Chinese food.
His favorite childhood memory: "Playing baseball with my dad."
Mr. Gore and Miss Winfrey sat side by side on yellow leather chairs. Mr. Gore wore a dark suit with a white shirt and a light blue tie.
The program aired live in Chicago, but Mr. Gore was after more than Illinois' 22 electoral votes. Mr. Gore is trying to maintain a double-digit lead among women to offset Mr. Bush's similar lead among men.
Miss Winfrey heads an entertainment empire geared to women. In addition to her top-rated television show, which reaches 22 million viewers per week, it includes O, the Oprah Magazine, a bimonthly that sold 1.6 million copies of its first issue, and Oxygen Media, which includes a cable network for women.
Mr. Gore stuck around for 20 minutes following the taping and faced tougher questions from Miss Winfrey and from her audience.
Miss Winfrey asked Mr. Gore if he ever stole anything. Mr. Gore paused and said he could not recall having stolen anything.
A woman in the audience asked Mr. Gore whether Mr. Bush's admission of past drinking should be a larger issue in the presidential campaign.
The vice president noted that the Texas governor "had a personal transformation and a period of growth and that's common in all our lives," and said that during his five years as governor, Mr. Bush "certainly hasn't given any reason for that question to be a matter of concern to people, I don't think."
During the program, Mr. Gore and Miss Winfrey seemed to belong to a mutual admiration society. He recalled that in the early 1970s, he and Miss Winfrey covered some stories together when he worked at the Nashville Tennessean and she worked for a television station in Nashville.
Miss Winfrey analyzed the kiss and hug Mr. Gore gave his wife, Tipper, at the Democratic National Convention, as if it were a key play in a football game.
"What I felt was just an overwhelming surge of emotion," Mr. Gore said. "This was a great moment in our lives. It's not as if I got there by myself.
"This has been a partnership, and she is my soul mate," he said, drawing applause from the mostly female audience. "It's not that complicated."
Miss Winfrey, probing the vice president's psyche, said "there is a point in everybody's life when you mature and you start to take responsibility for yourself as a man." She asked Mr. Gore to discuss his defining moment.
Mr. Gore said one came when his first child, Karenna, was born. The second came when he served in the Senate and his son, Albert III, was hit by a car.
"I changed my priorities totally," Mr. Gore said.
"I remember sitting in the hospital looking at my schedule book for the first time," Mr. Gore said. "All of these things for the next month had felt so weighty when I put them on the schedule.
"When I exhaled they just blew off the schedule, light as feathers. They didn't matter anymore. It was a great lesson for me. Now family is first."

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