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Friday, September 5, 2003
More on Poor Gore

By Steven Taylor @ 8:37 pm

These two post (here and here), and ensuing comments from Nathan Callahan, has sent me to Lexis/Nexis to refresh my memory on Mr. Gore’s penchant for exaggeration. It always struck me as odd, because most of the stories would have been fine in their less enhanced versions, and, on balance, the enhancements didn’t really gain Gore anything. I think it made him look insecure, and, made me wonder that if he had trouble with small truths, if he wouldn’t have trouble with larger ones as well.

Plus, he had a clear need to be the smartest guy in the room, and that is a behavior that I have always found to be troubling.

A 2000 Newsweek piece by one Gore biographer, Bill Turque, put it quite well

What makes it especially puzzling is that, for the most part, the statements in question aren’t huge “I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman"-sized lies, but small, often silly and self-aggrandizing distortions of his background. Gore never met a personal anecdote he didn’t like well enough to stretch further than the facts would allow.


Most of Gore’s tales are tethered to a sizable chunk of reality. In nearly every case, the straight story would have been just as interesting or praiseworthy. Gore did not, as he told Wolf Blitzer in 1998, take “the initiative in creating the Internet.” But he did sponsor legislation that invested billions in critical fiber optics research than paved the way for the Internet we have today. And while he was not the basis for the Oliver Barrett character in Love Story, author Erich Segal says Barrett was a combination of Gore and his Harvard pal Tommy Lee Jones. Gore’s work as a reporter in Nashville did not, as he claimed in 1988, result in jail time for two members of the city council. But they were indicted on bribery charges as a result of Gore’s investigation.

It’s a self-destructive, neurotic tick in the character of a man who is usually at home in the world of facts and ideas. I have no definitive explanation for Gore’s tendency to embellish.

Or, from a Boston Globe piece:

Vice President Al Gore brings a remarkable life story to the presidential race: His father was such an unwavering supporter of civil rights that it cost him his Senate seat. His older sister was the first-ever volunteer in the Peace Corps, that heroic outpost on President Kennedy’s New Frontier.

By Gore’s account: He was raised in hardscrabble Tennessee farm country. He was a brilliant student, in high school and at Harvard. And despite his political pull, he received no special treatment, opting instead to go to Vietnam where he was “shot at.” After his Army service, he spent seven years as a journalist, and his reporting at the Tennessean in Nashville put corrupt officials in prison.

As a junior member in the US House, he was a major force: He wrote and then spearheaded passage of the Superfund law. He even authored the US nuclear negotiating position. And at a time when President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev faced off on the superpower stage, Gore had his own meeting with Gorbachev.

And, of course, he created the Internet.

At various times in his political career, Gore, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said all those things about himself and his family.

None are quite true.

Some are exaggerations grown up around kernels of biographical fact. Others are simply false. A few, like the boastful claim about the Internet, have become comic fodder, even for Gore.

The mystery, even for Gore’s friends, is why he has persistently embroidered a political resume and pedigree that shorn of embellishments are impressive by any measure. Gore did press for early funding of the network that grew into the Internet. He served in Vietnam when he could have arranged a safer setting, unlike his Republican rival, George W. Bush. His journalism did unearth corruption. And in Congress, he exerted uncommon influence on technology and national security matters, notwithstanding his lack of seniority.

But for Gore, the facts have never been quite enough.

And to add to the list of “exaggerations”:

  • His claim that his Mom used to sing him the “Union Label” song when he was a kid, even though the song was written in 1975 (when he was 25).
  • ” This truth-telling issue first began to haunt Gore when he ran for president, at 39, in 1988. Reporters were struck by the fact that Gore, a senator and former congressman, described himself as a farmer and home-builder. The farm was a 20-acre patch in Tennessee, where cows were trucked in to provide a backdrop for his announcement speech, while the home-building enterprise was an investment he apparently spent little time managing.” (WaPo-see below).

    This was more than just a few incidences, and more than just a media persona. And it isn’t just an observation made by conservatives:

    An aide warned Gore in 1988 that his image “may suffer if you continue to go out on a limb with remarks that may be impossible to back up.” (also from the WaPo story).


    Robison, Walter V. and Michael Crowley. “Record Shows Gore Long Embellishing the Truth”. The Boston Globe. April 11, 2000, page A1.

    Turque, Bill. “Gore’s Truth Troubles” Newsweek. September 22, 2000.

    Von Drehle, David and Ceci Connolly. “GOP Homes In on Gore’s Credibility; Final Assault Links Embellishments to Flaws of Clinton Era”. WaPo, October 8, 2000.

  • Filed under: US Politics

    Click here to go to the main page.


    1. But Steven you overlook what is at the core of the debate.

      For Gore’s supporters it is not about facts or reason… It has now risen to the level of religion. (sadly, I am not joking)

      They believe what they want and the facts be damned.

      They think he won Florida, they even think he tells the truth.

      James had a guy post a few weeks ago that said all sorta of whacky stuff like Gore would have connected the dots on 9/11 and stopped it etc.

      Yet consider this….

      Gore lost by the most narrow of margins. The internet lie cost him a monstrous amount of votes.

      The case could STRONGLY be made that had he not told the Love Story lie and the Internet lie, he would be President today.

      You’ll never hear one of the zealots admit that.

      my 2 cents


      Comment by Paul — Friday, September 5, 2003 @ 11:16 pm

    2. Problem is, Paul, Gore didn’t lie in either of those two instances. In all too typical of Repug-fashion, conservatives used the Big Lie technique of repeating a lie long enough and loud enough that it became accepted as fact.

      Both the so-called “internet lie” and “Love Story lie” have been thoroughly debunked.

      But, what’s troubling is that even if we assume Gore lied and if we can all agree lying is a very bad thing-then why aren’t conservatives upset about Dubya’s lies regarding Saddam’s WMD?

      Moreover, if we all agree lying is bad, aren’t there varying degrees and levels of mendacity? For example, if I were to lie and claim I was captain of my HS basketball team-it would reveal a flaw in my character but very little real harm has been done to anyone. OTOH, if I were the Commander-in-Chief and I was to lie about a threat which either did not exist or was greatly exaggerated, causing the sacrifice of US troops—is that not a lie with some real consequence?

      In the fantasy world of conservatives, lies aren’t lies if they’re told by conservatives.

      Comment by JadeGold — Saturday, September 6, 2003 @ 6:55 am

    3. Paul-yep, I had that same post on Gore that James got as well, and I concur, with your concluding remarks, as I posted this morning-if Gore hadn’t had this character flaw, he would have won.

      And Pet Troll: go read the rate lengthy responses that I posted yesterday. They have not been debunked-and the issue is really about perception, and it as the evidence shows, even mainstream media outlets (and Gore’s own staff in 1988) saw the problem that Gore had.

      Comment by Steven — Saturday, September 6, 2003 @ 8:03 am

    4. They have been debunked, Steven. Merely saying you can produce media accounts, offering opinions and unsubstantiated halftruths, doesn’t bolster your claims in the least. There are mainstream media articles that will argue the opposite of what you claim.

      WRT internet lie; one cannot read Gore’s comments in context and actually believe he was claiming to have created the internet. Moreover, when a guy like Vint Cerf (who *is* the co-father of the ‘net) says, yeah, Gore’s statements were correct-you’re left with nothing but an Asst. Professor’s job at Troy State.

      Same story on the ‘Love Story’ lie.

      Comment by JadeGold — Saturday, September 6, 2003 @ 6:50 pm

    5. As always, you miss the point.

      And until you have at least the decency to identify yourself, I would appreciate it if you would knock off the personal refs. There is no need for it.

      Comment by Steven — Saturday, September 6, 2003 @ 8:30 pm

    6. And now Steven, you know why I say it is a religion. LOL

      Comment by Paul — Saturday, September 6, 2003 @ 11:57 pm

    7. Steven, you can afford Lexis/Nexis? Or is part of your state’s budget problems because poly sci profs *need* Lexis/Nexis? ;-)

      Comment by Sean Hackbarth — Sunday, September 7, 2003 @ 3:20 am

    8. The Pollyanna act is old, Steven. If you wish to traffic in ad hominems, please don’t be shocked to see a few returned.

      Comment by JadeGold — Sunday, September 7, 2003 @ 8:54 am

    9. Mr. Gold I have never attack you personally in all of our “discourse"-the closest I have come is calling you a “Pet Troll,” but I would argue that fits your behavior quite well. Otherwise I have only attacked your analytic skills.

      Comment by Steven — Sunday, September 7, 2003 @ 10:37 am

    10. Oh, and I note you still hide beihnd your colorful moniker. As usual, you avoid the basic issue at hand and reply with an attack. It really isn’t an effective debating style.

      Quite frankly, I don’t care who you are, I just find your need to attack me personally while hiding behind a nickname rather interesting.

      Comment by Steven — Sunday, September 7, 2003 @ 10:46 am

    11. So what you are saying is that you think that “Bush lied about WMD"? If so then Clinton lied about them while he was president? If that is also true, then Gore (who presumeably kept up with foreign affairs) is an even bigger liar than previously thought????

      It is obvious that everyone thought that the WMD existed, and in fact they may still exist. It took us quite a while to find the MIG’s buried in the sand. They may still turn up, but even if they don’t that is not proof that Bush lied, or exaggerated. He used intelligence from several sources, including the past intel reports that Clinton used when he made the same statements.
      How is it a “lie” now but not then?

      Comment by debbie — Monday, September 8, 2003 @ 2:11 pm

    12. Poor debbie.

      Let me ’splain something to you about jet aircraft-they’re remarkably fragile. You bury a jet in the sand and you may as well park it on a playground and let kids climb on it ‘cuz it’s flying days are over. This is because the dynamic components of a jet aircraft are not just fragile but have extremely low tolerances for being scored, abraded, or otherwise damaged. Plus, you get sand into fuel, lubricant or hydraulic lines and it’s no more flight hours for that bird.

      WRT Clinton, you have to understand the concept known as time. There’s no doubt Iraq *at one time* possessed WMDs. Heck, Don Rumsfeld gave him some in the late 1980s. The question is: did Saddam have any *recently?*

      Comment by JadeGold — Monday, September 8, 2003 @ 6:48 pm

    13. What he is referring to is the fact that the Iraqis hid some of their planes underground:

      Australian Special Forces who seized an Iraqi air base have found 51 MiG fighter jets - one of the biggest enemy aircraft discoveries of the war.

      They also found armoured vehicles, anti-weapons systems and training materials on weapons of mass destruction, officials said yesterday.

      Australian troops had been watching the air base west of Baghdad for about a week and had been warned it could be a storage site for weapons of mass destruction.

      Lt. Col. Mark Elliott, Central Command spokesman for Australian coalition forces, said troops found instruction manuals and other training materials on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, but that it wasn’t clear whether the material instructed soldiers how to use such agents - or how to protect against them.

      The MiGs, which included MiG 25s and MiG 29s, the most sophisticated aircraft in the Iraqi arsenal, had escaped detection during coalition bombing because they were well hidden, in some cases buried or covered by trees. The jets had been towed miles from their bases, hidden behind berms or in shallow depressions, then carefully camouflaged so that they only became visible when the U.S. columns pulled within several hundred metres.

      Bunkers capable of withstanding nuclear, chemical and biological attack were also found at the complex. Elliott said it was too early to say whether searching the vast network of underground bunkers would turn up weapons of mass destruction.

      Source: The Toronto Star, April 19, 2003.

      And Clinton did argue throughout his admin, that Iraq had not accounted for their WMDs, and that it was the official position of the US government, that they had WMDs.

      Comment by Steven — Monday, September 8, 2003 @ 7:16 pm

    14. Comment by Deleter Spy — Monday, July 12, 2004 @ 2:59 am

    15. Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 3:07 pm

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