- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

Saint Albert
Al Gore and his future job prospects are again in the news after the former vice president loaded up his truck and moved to Tennessee.
This column will go on record and predict that Mr. Gore will make a third run for the presidency.
After all, why else would Jonathan Coopersmith, associate professor of history at Texas A&M; University, write to criticize this column for repeating the "old discredited line about Al Gore claiming he invented the Internet."
The good professor forwards an article he has just penned for the Annals of the History of Computing. In the piece, he answers the question: "So what exactly did Al Gore do and claim he did?"
In May 1999, Mr. Gore told CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "During my service in the U.S. Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
Mr. Coopersmith says: "This quickly was mutated into 'I created the Internet' and became ammunition for comedians, reporters too lazy to investigate what actually happened, and Republicans. What happened here may become a classic example of how the Internet enables the rapid spread of error and disinformation at the expense of the truth."
The professor recalls computer scientist Joseph F. Traub, founder of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council, crediting Mr. Gore for being the "first political leader to grasp the importance of networking the country, and later the world."
In fact, as early as 1986, during a speech at the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Gore spoke of the importance of a national information infrastructure, particularly for promoting commerce and education.
"Gore did not or claim to spend long days and nights coding or stringing fiber-optic cable," says Mr. Coopersmith. "Instead, we see a congressman, senator and later vice president trying to create and fund a national policy to transfer defense-funded computer research to the private and educational worlds and promote universal access.
"And if that does not make him the political saint of the Internet, his years of promotion definitely qualify him as a major patron."
In other words, as far as the professor is concerned, George W. Bush was wrong when he told Mr. Gore: "This Internet of yours is a wonderful invention."

Drifting from D.C.
The patriotic fervor generated by the September 11 attacks is unfortunately not translating into increased political participation by Americans.
Statewide primaries held in 18 states in recent weeks by both major parties resulted in record low levels of voter turnout, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE).
It has gotten so bad that average levels of voter turnout today are more than 50 percent lower than they were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Voter turnout in statewide primaries held in the spring averaged just 16 percent of eligible voters, compared with 18 percent in 1998 and down 51 percent from the high-water mark for turnout in 1966.
Democrats and Republicans alike have every reason to be concerned. Turnout in the 18 states that held Democratic statewide primaries averaged just 8 percent of eligibles. And Republicans fared even worse: turnout in the 18 states averaged just 7 percent.
"In the real world, no one should have expected that the events of September 11 would have increased political participation," says CSAE Director Curtis Gans. "While there was an increase in patriotism, there was also an essential national unity that does not draw people into electoral contest.
"And what the citizenry was asked to do was to return to normalcy, consume material goods and invest in the stock market, hardly clarion calls to civic involvement," he adds. "The only exhortation was for an increase in volunteerism, which tends to be a noblesse oblige apolitical act."

Earth over man
We read where the Earth First Journal, in collaboration with the group Dictator Watch, intends to create a directory of "the individuals responsible for the widespread crimes against nature perpetrated by humanity upon the earth and its creatures."
The directory, according to Earth First, will include "the sources of death and destruction that come from industry, government, and also other institutions. For example, many religious organizations, through their beliefs and practices, have terrible environmental consequences."
The directory, which will be published in the Journal and also on the Journal and Dictator Watch's Web sites, is intended to serve as a resource and guide for activists worldwide.
"This is scary stuff," says James W. Conrad Jr., counsel of the American Chemistry Council, who equates the directory to a "Nuremberg Files-type Web site, with names, photos, home addresses, etc., of people 'killing the earth.'"


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