No one plays the family card as shamelessly as Al Gore.
Who can forget his
maudlin performance at the 1996 Democratic National Convention, when he
recounted how his cigarette-smoking sister died from lung cancer?
by her bed and held her hand, he grieved. And in a very short time her
breathing became labored. And she breathed her last breath. And that is why,
until I draw my last breath, I will pour my heart and soul into the cause of
protecting our children from the dangers of smoking.
It all sounded so
convincing. But what Gore neglected to mention was that he had happily accepted
campaign contributions from tobacco industry political-action committees for
six years after his beloved sister passed away.
He also conveniently
overlooked a speech he gave in North Carolina, four years after his sister
breathed her last breath, in which he proudly proclaimed his kinship with
tobacco growers. Throughout most of my life, he boasted, I’ve raised tobacco. I
want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in plant beds
and transferred it. I’ve hoed it. I’ve chopped it. I’ve shredded it, spiked it,
put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it.
His dearly departed sister
must have turned over in her grave.
Then there’s Gore’s father, the late
Albert Sr., whose memory the vice president often evokes, when politically
useful, to validate his commitment to racial comity.
I was raised to
believe in racial justice and civil rights, said Gore, in remarks last year to
the Detroit chapter of the NAACP. My father was a United States senator from
the South who had courage.
But what Gore glossed over is that his
courageous dad actually voted against the watershed Civil Rights Act of 1964,
which enabled blacks to drink from the same water fountains as whites, sit at
the same lunch counters, and check into the same hotels.
In his 1972
memoir, published two years after he had been turned out of office by Tennessee
voters, Gore’s father lamented that, Some blacks … refused to vote for me
because of my views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Yet, Gore depicts his pa
as some Great White Hero of the civil rights movement.
mother-in-law takes a turn as a political prop for the vice president.
a speech last month in Florida, Gore told a group of seniors that Tipper’s
arthritic mom has to pay three times as much for her prescription medicine,
Lodine, as Gore himself does when he buys the same medication for his arthritic
That’s pretty bad, said the Democratic presidential nominee,
when you’ve got to be a dog or a cat to get a price break.
It all sounded
so compelling. Until The Boston Globe revealed dis-Honest Al’s story to be a
Gore’s assertion that his black Labrador retriever’s monthly bill
is $37.80 and (his mother-in-law’s) is $108 is wrong, the Globe reported. The
Gore campaign admitted that it lifted those costs not from his family’s bills,
but from a House Democratic study, and that Gore even misused those numbers.
And one thing more, the Globe noted: The costs Gore cited presume that his
dog and mother-in-law take the same dosage — which could put 14-year-old
Shiloh at risk for stomach ulcers.
Gore was shamelessly using his
mother-in-law (and dog) to demonize the pharmaceutical industry and promote his
$253 billion prescription drug plan for seniors. But what he neglects to
mention while out on the stump is that two-thirds of the nation’s seniors
already have some form of prescription drug insurance. And of those that don’t,
many — albeit not all — get free medication from state health agencies or
from drug company giveaways.
It’s one thing for a politician to omit
salient facts that undermine his stance on a selected issue. That’s forgivable.
It’s quite another for a politician to make up a story out of whole cloth, to
deceive the voters. That’s intolerable.
Way back in January, when Gore was
still seeking his party’s presidential nomination, he was challenged on his
honesty. And he declared, There has never been a time in this campaign when I
have said something that I know to be untrue. There’s never been a time when
I’ve said something untrue.
Even to this very moment, having had his
mother-in-law story exposed as a fiction, he continues to make this untenable
claim. Which only confirms that Al Gore is as sorely lacking in integrity as
the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Joseph Perkins is a columnist for
The San Diego Union-Tribune.