Gore is truly a liar

By Thomas L. Jipping
web posted October 23, 2000

Al GoreMaybe Al Gore was not a liar when he was younger, or even when he was in Congress. Maybe hanging around Bill Clinton for eight years has turned Al Gore into a liar. The Bible, after all, warns us that bad company spoils good character. Maybe Al Gore was not always a liar, but he sure is one now. And the dangerous thing is that Gore's lies are worse than Clinton's lies.

Bill Clinton lied about many, many things and a lot of Clinton's lies had two common characteristics. They were about very personal things and they were usually denials of things he had been accused of doing. That is, Clinton's lies were at least based in reality. He denied making sexual advances on Paula Jones. He denied having sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky. He denied groping Kathleen Willey. He denied raping Juanita Broderick.

While Clinton's lies were about personal things he had been accused of doing, the settings of these lies exposed him to serious consequences for his lies. He lied under oath during Paula Jones' civil lawsuit against him. He lied to his Cabinet and the country. The consequences include a settlement of the Jones lawsuit, a finding of contempt and a $90,000 fine by a federal judge, impeachment by the House of Representatives. It may yet result in disbarment.

Al Gore's lies are different. Many of them are about public, rather than private, things and many of them are claims he did, things he did not do or that things happened that did not happen.

  • He claimed he visited a Florida school that was so overcrowded lunch began at 9:30 in the morning. Not true.
  • He claimed his uncle was gassed in the Balkans during World War II. Not true. His uncle was in France.
  • He claimed he helped launch the Strategic Oil Reserve. Not true. It was established two years before he entered Congress.
  • He claimed his mother sang the "union label" song to him as a child. Not true. The song was not written until he was 27.
  • He claimed he created the Internet. Not true.
  • He claimed he supported a nuclear test ban treaty. Not true. He opposed it.
  • He claimed he was fired on while in Vietnam. Not true.
  • He claimed he co-sponsored the McCain-Feingold campaign regulation bill. Not true. Russ Feingold was not even elected to the Senate until the year Gore became Vice President.
  • He claimed he discovered Love Canal. Not true.
  • He claimed he wrote the laws that created Superfund and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Not true and not true.
  • He claimed he was the inspiration for Hubert Humphrey's 1968 Democratic convention speech. Not true.

And on it goes. Lie after lie after lie. Lies about very public things such as congressional legislation, military service, and campaign events. Lies making up things that never happened, things that are just pulled out of thin air.

Clinton's lies were mostly connected to, and somewhat constrained by, reality. Gore's lies are often unconnected with, and completely unconstrained by, reality. And another curious difference is that while Clinton's lies were in settings that exposed him to potentially serious consequences, Gore's lies are in settings that potentially allow him to get away with his lies entirely. They seem trivial, almost stupid, and probably harmless. While Clinton actually swore an oath to tell the truth before he lied, Gore never did. The only thing holding him to the truth is general morality, the unspoken bond of trust that public officials and candidates for public office should have with the American people. It's not like he lied under oath, after all.

But here's why Gore's lies are worse than Clinton's lies. Gore lies about everything, private or public, denials or assertions, when it's important and when it's just plain silly to lie. He lies on the fly, not in the calculated, deliberate way that Clinton lied. Gore seems to be living a lie, not just telling lies. In this way, while Clinton lied a lot, Gore is truly a liar. And that's worse.

Tom Jipping is the director of the Center for Law and Democracy at the Free Congress Foundation.

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