- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2000

ANN ARBOR, Mich. MTV introduced Vice President Al Gore yesterday as a man who once listened to rock 'n' roll, rode a motorcycle and "even smoked the herb."
Although he did not distance himself from the introduction's reference to his admitted past use of marijuana, he reiterated his opposition to its medicinal use to a woman who told him a member of her family was in jail for giving the drug to a cancer patient.
"Thus far, there is absolutely no evidence" it is medically effective, he said.
During the 90-minute MTV "Choose or Lose" forum at the University of Michigan, Mr. Gore emphasized his support of liberal causes in a bid for support among the show's expected 1 million viewers.
Mr. Gore told the live audience of 150 students that the RU-486 abortion pill should be more readily available. He repeated his criticism of "racial profiling" and said he supports legal protections for homosexual couples but stopped short of backing homosexual "marriage."
The vice president, appearing relaxed in a sage-green shirt and khaki pants, told a 22-year-old black student from Lansing that "a ban on racial profiling will be the first Civil Rights Act of the 21st century."
President Clinton's administration is amassing the evidence to support such an executive order, Mr. Gore said.
Mr. Gore tried to appeal to female students by backing the abortion pill.
"Other countries have had this," Mr. Gore said. "I think that it ought to be available, provided, of course, that it is safe.
"I think that what's wrong is to hold it off the market for some kind of political reason. I'm totally against that."
The pill must be given under medical supervision, and women can experience nausea, vomiting, bleeding and other side effects. In a small percentage of cases, women have had severe bleeding that required blood transfusions.
A 21-year-old Detroit man who identified himself as a homosexual said he is "mad" that he cannot get the legal benefits of marriage.
Mr. Gore said there is a difference between marriage and civic unions for homosexuals. He said he supports "legally recognized civic unions that have the legal protections of the kind that marriage confers."
The forum, which aired on MTV at 8 p.m. yesterday, illustrated the growing importance of talk-show appearances in Campaign 2000.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who has been invited to take questions on MTV, moved ahead of Mr. Gore in the national polls this week following his appearances on shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Regis Philbin. This month, Mr. Gore appeared with Miss Winfrey and traded jokes with David Letterman and Jay Leno.
At the University of Michigan, Mr. Gore was seeking to drum up support in a vital battleground state with 18 electoral votes. He also sought to drive up turnout among young voters, many who are uninterested in politics.
Fewer than half of eligible voters under age 25 plan to vote in November, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that MTV released yesterday.
Mr. Gore, who stood throughout the program, was spared MTV's signature "boxers or briefs" question that President Clinton answered in 1992.
Instead, a student asked: "Mr. Vice President, paper or plastic?"
Mr. Gore suggested that he would take home groceries in his arms. He said he would choose paper if forced to make a choice.
Before the show began, staff members for MTV admonished any student who might have thought about an impromptu demonstration.
"It is a taped show, and we know how to edit very well," a staff member told students.
The film clip MTV used to introduce Mr. Gore would never be mistaken for a clip on "Meet the Press."
"He's a Harvard grad, a Vietnam vet, a vice president and he's into PDA," a narrator said, referring to Mr. Gore's public display of affection kissing his wife, Tipper, for four seconds at the Democratic National Convention.
"Having a lawmaker for a dad didn't keep Gore from succumbing to the countercultural influences of the 1960s," the narrator said. "He listened to rock, he rode a motorcycle, he even smoked the herb."
Among his other favored themes, the vice president stressed the danger of global warming. Referring to a recent Norwegian study, he said the polar ice caps will melt in 50 years.
"I think this is a time when the stakes are higher than they have ever been," Mr. Gore said. "You saw the study about the polar ice caps melting like in 50 years.
"There's going to be no North Pole in the summertime, according to the study that came out last month. This is very serious business."
During a quick round-robin period involving lighter fare, Mr. Gore said the disc in his compact disc player features the pop band Sister Hazel; that he would want his friend and former Harvard roommate Tommy Lee Jones to play him in the movies; that he has never cheated on a test; and that he would want rocker Lenny Kravitz to play at his inauguration.
He said his biggest regret in college is that he and his roommates created a country-music show that toured women's colleges when he was a freshman.
"I was the stand-up comic in the act," Mr. Gore said. "I regret that we didn't practice more."
Mr. Gore said that if he loses Nov. 7 he likely would become "a writer of some kind."
In turning his attention from senior citizens to college seniors, Mr. Gore addressed topics such as the debate over Napster, and the effect of hip-hop music.
Mr. Gore has raked in millions of dollars from Hollywood this month, after criticizing the entertainment industry for marketing sex and violence to children.
He told the students yesterday that he does not like music that promotes racism or violence against women.
"I really don't believe in censorship," Mr. Gore said to a student who asked him whether artists such as Eminem and Marilyn Manson are a bad influence.
But "I don't like entertainment that advocates violence against women, or putting down gays and lesbians, or entertainment that advocates racial discrimination."
The University of Michigan recently banned Napster, a program that allows computer users to directly trade music files.
"I think Napster is a terrific innovation, but I think we've got to find a way to reconcile it with the protection of the artists' rights," Mr. Gore said.
Mr. Gore also got some odd questions during the commercial breaks.
A young woman in the audience asked Mr. Gore to autograph her arm. Mr. Gore demurred, saying: "I don't sign skin."
Another young woman yelled to Mr. Gore: "Can I get a note for missing class?"
Mr. Gore answered: "Yes. You are registered, right?"

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