By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
How Can the Democrats Go With Him?
A look at Al Gore's just-released interview with the Justice Department's campaign-finance task force director not only makes the vice president look like a barefaced liar but also makes you wonder why Janet Reno has not prosecuted him and why this man is the certain nominee of the Democratic Party.
The interrogation of Gore by task force director Robert J. Conrad, analyzed in a devastating piece in the July 8 Washington Post, centers around the scandal-ridden White House coffees, where big shots paid big bucks to gain access to the president and vice president in social settings. Questioned by Conrad in April, Gore denied attending any of the coffees. But two days later, his attorney, James Neal, wrote Conrad a letter saying that indeed Gore had hosted 21 coffees in the Old Executive Office Building and attended four others at the White House. In explaining the about-face, Neal said Gore had gotten mixed up because he hadn't been prepared to answer questions about "EOB coffees." It is safe to say that there is no one in official Washingtonexcept maybe Clinton himselfwho would try to imply that the Old Executive Office Building isn't part of the White House complex.
Although Harold Ickes, Clinton's former deputy chief of staff, had called the events "political/fundraising coffees," Gore maintained he had not heard them described that way. He thought of them as gatherings of influential people who wanted to talk policy, and who in the future might contribute to the DNC.
"Sitting here today," Conrad asked Gore, "you don't have a concrete recollection of your attendance at any particular coffee, is that correct?"
"No, I don't," answered the vice president. "That was on the president's side of things. . . ."
Question: "You are not familiar with . . . $50,000 being the cost to attend a coffee?"
Gore: "Absolutely not. . . . And it is my belief that would have been considered wildly inappropriate, if not worse, by those who talked about those coffees. I would be shocked if any of my colleagues who participated in the meetings I was at, or at any other meetings at the White House that I was not at, thought of the coffees in that way."
Gore's Farm in the Balance
Undermining the Environment
Gore's oft-stated concern for the environment, which he made into a cause with the publication of his book Earth in the Balance, has been viewed as his strong suit. But now he's caught up in a disgusting environmental mess on his own farm: the same estate at which a tenant who last month branded the vice president a "slumlord" announced over the weekend that she was moving because Gore has not acted to improve "intolerable" conditions in her small rental homeincluding flooding toilets, torn linoleum, and ripped screens. (A Gore spokesman insisted repairs had been made.)
In the environmental dilemma, Tennessee officials are threatening to take action against Pasminco Zinc, a mining company that pays Gore $20,000 a year for mineral rights on his farmland, for allegedly endangering wildlife. The state has cited high zinc levels in the Caney Fork River. Over the years, Gore has earned more than $500,000 from mining royalties on the farm, according to press reports. Although in reminiscences Gore has waxed reflexive about how he and his father swam in the pristine waters of the Caney Fork, this is not the first time Tennessee has tried to clean up pollution from mining on the Gore farm. A 1996 complaint stated: "The combined effect of these pollutants may be detrimental to fish and aquatic life." Compare this to Gore's purple rhetoric in Earth in the Balance, where he writes: " . . . the lakes and rivers sustain us; they flow through the veins of the earth and into our own. But we must take care to let them flow back out as pure as they came, not poison and waste them without thought for the future."
Gore as been criticized for his family's long-term investments in Occidental Petroleum, which has been involved in controversy over its oil-exploration efforts in Latin American rainforests. Armand Hammer, the founder of Occidentalwhich financed Gore's father's Senate career and contributed to young Al's congressional campaignsoriginally owned the the mining rights now being exploited by Pasminco.
Homeless Vow Philly March
Disappearing the Poor
While Gore is embroiled in a standoff with Hillary over prime-time slots at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, the Republicans are facing the possibility of an embarrassing parade of homeless people through Philadelphia. Usually, there is nothing worse than ending up in a presidential convention protest, miles from the delegates in a sweltering parking lot guarded by motorcycle cops, while a leftover radical wails about justice and equality. Even hot dog vendors don't go near these wretched affairs. And Philadelphia at the end of July sounds like another Houston or San Diego. First Union Center, the convention hall, is located far from downtown and is pretty much isolated from hotels or commerce.
In an effort to appease protesters and avoid a possible Seattle, Democratic mayor John Street has given permits to two worthy-sounding protestsa march to save health insurance, and another for global economic justiceboth presumably aimed at impressing people with just how responsible "radical participatory democracy" can be. But there's at least the possibility of a wild card since activist Cheri Honkala, a resident of Philadelphia and mother of Hollywood actor Mark Webber, is planning a march of homeless people in the spirit of Coxey's Army.