First, Al Gore told us he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong when he made fund-raising calls from the White House. After all, he explained, none of the individuals he solicited were on government property. Only he was. Then, when a memo was produced from then-White House Counsel Abner J. Mikva to all presidential employees warning that “no fund-raising phone calls or mail may emanate from the White House,” did the vice president’s story change.
Even though he technically made the calls from the White House, Gore backpedaled, he charged them all to a Democratic National Committee credit card account. Now we know that, too, was a lie. As many as 20 of the 71 fund-raising calls for which there is documentation, were not made by credit card but rather on the taxpayer’s dime.
When reporters pointed out to Gore that his actions seemed to be a prima facie violation of federal campaign laws, he explained that there was “no controlling legal authority” that applied those laws to him as vice president. In other words, he said, “I’m above the law.”
He may be right. Attorney General Janet Reno, who should be in jail herself for the massacre at the church in Waco, is severely compromised. She no doubt bought her job in the second term by promising not to prosecute Clinton administration officials and to impede any independent probes. Period. There’s no other way to explain the blind eye the Justice Department has taken to evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the White House.
There’s no chance Reno will charge Gore and no way she will appoint another independent counsel. She’s bought and paid for. That leaves it up to Congress.
Do you think Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott are up to the job of taking down this administration? Pardon me while I laugh. These guys couldn’t plan a bridge party let alone a palace coup.
The only wild card in Congress, however, is Sen. Fred Thompson. The verdict is not yet in on this guy. Does he have the cajones? I just don’t know. But he ought to realize that his one shot at the brass ring — the White House — may be how he conducts the investigation of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Is this going to be another sideshow like Al D’Amato’s? Or is it going to expose the criminal misconduct of the president and vice president?
The Al Gore show should give Thompson plenty of ammunition. Until now, the administration and Democratic Party have been able to spin the campaign financing investigation their way — by saying they want reform of the laws.
Now, however, with a crystal clear violation of the law perpetrated by the vice president, Thompson has an opportunity to refocus the debate — to say, clearly and concisely, “Let’s enforce the existing laws before we talk about passing any new ones.”
In the case of Gore, the facts are out — they’re on the table. He broke the law. He may say he didn’t understand the law, but ignorance is no excuse. Tell it to the judge, I say. The jails are full of people who didn’t understand the law.
But, heck, this is the vice president! If he is permitted to break the law with impunity, what are our laws really worth? What would be the point of passing new campaign finance reform legislation if a flagrant foul like this one is going to be completely overlooked?
Isn’t it amazing that the very fate of our country is in the hands of Sen. Fred Thompson, a man better know for his acting accomplishments than for his political leadership? Is he prepared for the challenge that lies ahead? Is he up to the job? Or is he another pretender like Gingrich and Lott?
Enough’s enough. It’s time for Al Gore to go. He broke the law. It’s that simple. It’s time for some “controlling legal authority” to take action.
It’s possible, though, that Al Gore is right for once. Maybe he and Bill Clinton are above the law. Perhaps America isn’t the nation we all thought it was. If President Clinton and Vice President Gore are permitted — by the people, by the press, by the Congress and by the courts — to get away with the kind of political pimping and whoring they’ve been doing for the last five years, then America just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.