Presenting a Gorespeak translation primer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (U-Wire) — What do Vice President Al Gore, Netscape founder Marc Andreesen and the University of Illinois have in common? Answer: They all claim to have invented the Internet.
Andreesen claims to have invented the Web by developing the Web browser Netscape. The University of Illinois, in turn, claims Andreesen got the idea from them while working as an “hourly” on the Mosaic Web browser (read: He stole the idea and then made millions off it). Mosaic and Netscape be damned, however — Gore recently chimed in, in a much-ridiculed comment, that he was actually responsible for the wonders of the World Wide Web.
In reality, the Internet was the original theoretical work of a group of scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1960s.
You’d expect as much out of Hollywood image-makers looking to create a marketable Horatio Alger story in Andreeson. And it’s even expected from our university, looking to share in the limelight of the Internet revolution.
But what about Gore — the man who dreams of leading our nation? Innocent hyperbole, perhaps? Perhaps not. As the latest edition of the Boston Globe points out, the vice president has a troubling history of embellishing facts.
Check out the following:
Gorespeak: At the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Gore gave a moving speech in which he told the story of his own sister’s death from lung cancer caused by years of smoking. At an emotional high point of the speech, he declared emphatically, “Until I draw my last breath, I will pour my heart and soul into the cause of protecting children from the dangers of smoking.”
Fact: The Globe article points out Gore came late to the anti-tobacco bandwagon: For “seven years after his sister died, Gore remained an ally of big tobacco, and accepted both tobacco campaign contributions and federal subsidies for the tobacco grown on his farm.” That’s right. Gore was so moved by his sister’s demise that he continued to grow and sell tobacco for profit.
Gorespeak: In the recent 2000 Iowa Democratic presidential caucus, Gore drove home a charge that his opponent, former Sen. Bill Bradley, had voted against flood relief for Iowa.
Fact: Bradley voted for $4.8 billion in flood relief to the Midwest.
Gorespeak: The vice president claims to have been raised in rustic Carthage, Tenn., and to have attended a rural school.
Fact: He grew up the son of a powerful U.S. senator, living in a Washington, D.C., hotel, while attending a private Washington school with other children of the D.C. elite.
Gorespeak: The vice president made much of his years before running for office, trumpeting both his Vietnam War record (he claims to have actually been shot at) and his journalistic career.
Fact: Gore’s commanding officer in Vietnam issued orders to keep him out of harm’s way during his five-month stint in the country. Further, nothing substantiates his claim to having been “shot at.” As for his career as a journalist, there seems to be some dispute as to how long he was actually a newspaperman. Pre-1994 Gore claimed to have been a journalist for five years; post-1994 (and while vice president, I might add), he claims to have worked in the profession for seven years — so much for journalistic integrity!
“So what,” you say. “He’s a politician; politicians are expected to engage in this type of self-aggrandizing puffery. Big deal.”
All right, let me just give you one last example of Gore’s penchant for embellishment that clearly presents the dangerous lengths to which this man is willing to go in order to win.
For years now, and most recently, this past April in an NAACP debate, the vice president has trumpeted his firm upbringing as a pro-civil rights Democrat. He is fond of telling crowds of how his father risked all in the 1950s and 1960s to stand up for civil rights, and how he advocated zealously to put an end to the Jim Crow laws that had seized the South and disenfranchised millions of African-Americans.
Unfortunately, even on an issue of great importance like that of civil rights, Gore does not tell the truth. The fact is that his father, as a U.S. senator from Tennessee, not only voted against the very legislative bill that put an end to Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but he strenuously opposed its passage and fought hard against similar enactments prior to 1964.
To be sure, the elder Gore changed his tune after he came to terms with the political fact that Jim Crow was becoming a thing of the past and voted in favor of subsequent civil rights measures.
But this does not excuse his conspicuous “nay” vote recorded on the most important civil rights legislation in our nation’s history.
Indeed, the Globe notes that the senior Gore admits in his own memoirs he was “no white knight” for civil rights.
Admittedly, I have been elected to attend the Republican National Convention this summer as a Bush-alternate delegate. Nonetheless, it is extremely troubling that on issues of great importance like civil rights, tobacco and his war record, Al Gore exhibits a Clintonian inability to tell the truth. At the least, he is merely bending the truth for his own political gain. At the worst, he is outright lying for political gain.
Do we really want another president who is less than forthright with the American public? If Gore is lying to us now as vice president, why should we expect any more from him as president?
Chapin Rose’s column originally appeared in Friday’s University of Illinois paper, the Daily Illini.