I climbed aboard Air Force Two to converse with Vice President
Albert Gore, my hair was ruffled by a light breeze. The
ancient Romans called such airport-runway breezes venti
veritatum the wind of truth and I was
inclined to agree.
New Yorker had dispatched me to accompany the vice president
on his 45-minute flight from St. Louis to Chicago so I could
discover the real Al Gore. I knew intuitively, and because
his handlers had told me so, that behind the Gore of rote
campaign speeches and deal-brokering lay a man far more
complex than the other weekly journals of news and opinion
were likely to discover.
aboard, Gore gestured, pointing me toward the couch,
disappearing and then returning with a pot of tea. I
hope you like chamomile, he said. Did you know
the chamomile plant contains the phosphates for calcium,
magnesium and potassium, thereby aiding not only the digestive
system but also the nervous system? I purchased this particular
tea on the Internet. I have a theory about the Internet;
I wrote an article in The Tennesseean once presaging
its transformative potential. When I first
asked how his campaign had been going.
your last question," said Chris Lehane, Gores
campaign manager, who had emerged from the cabin with a
three-minute egg timer.
know, Gore said, sitting beside me on the couch and
fixing me in the eye, I have been studying the citizens
of this country. They fall into distinct categories based
on their political-party registrations. Categories that,
interestingly, correlate with voting patterns. Such divisions
divide Americans. He drew a graph to demonstrate this.
Would you like sugar in your tea? Its Sugar
in the Raw.
is known for his wooden delivery often when he speaks,
people start quietly ejecting from the plane and
the occasional Gore response did seem canned. When I asked
him if tobacco companies were earnestly committed to keeping
cigarettes out of the hands of children, Gore fumbled with
something under his blazer and studied it for a minute before
replying, Signs say no.
grew up in a small, rural town in Tennessee, a state that
until the late 1800s did not have electricity. His father
was a working man, as was his father's father. The Great
Depression hit the Gores hard, and so did the subsequent
recovery, and the 50s. By then, George H. W. Bush
was living on the moon, lettering in tennis and fencing.
light of Gores hardscrabble background and because
I had read prior media coverage of the presidential campaign,
I knew that Gore knew the value of a dollar. What
is the value of a dollar? I asked, to be sure.
dollar is worth roughly 1.08 Euros, 2.12 Deutschemarks and
110 Yen, Gore noted, but that's not what's interesting.
In Zambia, it is worth roughly 3,265 Kwachas. In 1998, the
Kwacha was devalued by 50 percent. Prices for some items,
including staple foods such as maize flour, went up over
80 percent. This had a devastating effect on the local people.
a family reunion in 1964, Gore gave a speech on the dirigible
industry in the 1930s. It's good! Even the early draft I
found in Gores attic, in a cardboard box labeled save
for pres. lib, is free of exclamation points and other
distracting punctuation. I asked Gore how his interest in
dirigibles manifested itself politically.
inched closer to me on the couch and drew a new set of graphs.
I'm really glad you asked that! he said. This
parabola represents average wind speeds for the past 200
years, plotted in three-month increments, and this other
parabola is a function of...
13,700 words deleted)
it became apparent that hydrocarbons threaten not only the
ozone layer, but our sense of self-determination. Duchamp
and de Beauvoir wrote about this, though these writings
were never published. You know, he said, pointing
out the window of Air Force Two at the bejeweled skyline
of Rio de Janeiro, I wrote my undergraduate thesis
on that. He had moved another few inches closer to
me on the couch and was now sitting on my penis.
noticed my tape had run out again. Bring Mr. Lemann
some more microcassettes, Gore called to Chris Lehane,
who showed up 12 seconds later with a sealed 10-pack of
TDK MC-60s. Gore resumed.
asked Gore where God fits into all this, and could he throw
in a few words about the cosmos, too.
on just a minute, he said. He left the room and returned
four minutes later with a tray of piping-hot macadamia nut
cookies in his right hand and a tray of piping-hot gingerbread
cookies in his left. I think this will make things
clear. He positioned the cookies on the Air Force
Two carpet to form an intractable problem from the Japanese
game of Go. What I'm saying and mind you, John
Gray, Ph.D., says it more convincingly but I'm going to
try anyway is that men are from Mars and women are
from Venus. I wrote a ninth grade book report on that.
struck me like a flash. Here was Gore, a guy who knew everything
a president would ever want to know except how to communicate
with people. All the while, George W. Bush was saying nice
things about America and smiling and dressing well and promising
to save everyone from nasty things, and this was
asked Gore how he planned to communicate whats in
his soul to the American people, through the static of a
think youve helped me accomplish that objective quite
nicely by basing the character of Ron Weasley on me.
Gore replied. You did say your name was J.K. Rowling,
CONSTABULARY NOTES FROM ALL OVER
From The (New York) Daily News.
disgruntled worker seething over a tongue-lashing from
his boss at the New York State Veterans Home in Queens
yesterday shot the woman dead, then calmly rode away on
a bicycle, police said.