I guess Al Gore’s Temple of Earth Worship doesn’t stress tithing.

His federal tax return, released this week, shows Mr. Compassion gave all of $353 to charity in 1997. That’s not a typo or misplaced decimal point, friends — $353.00.

There’s no mistake, either. Al and Tipper don’t say they donated more to charity and are just not claiming a deduction. They actually have an explanation for their lack of largesse. They didn’t make enough money last year.

How much did they make? $197,729.

Now, depending on how you interpret the scriptures that guide giving for Christians and Jews, the Gores should have contributed somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000, based on 10 percent of their net or gross incomes. That’s some disparity. Even taking the low figure, $15,000, the Gores stiffed their favorite charities to the tune of $14,647. Just think of all the trees that could have been saved.

In fairness to the Gores, they point out that the previous year they gave away a whopping $35,530. But those dollars represented the proceeds from Mrs. Gore’s book, “Picture This.”

“This year, the Gores did not have a similar source of income and the charitable contributions reflect that change,” explained spokesman Chris Lehane. Al’s “Earth in the Balance,” the couple points out, only brought in $2,650 in royalties in 1997. I guess they needed that money for household expenses.

They’ll give when they have it. Things are tight, right now, for the second couple. They’re barely making ends meet. The poor? Let them eat cake.

Keep in mind, every cent of what the Gores earned last year — save the paltry book royalties — came out of my pocket and yours. They are all tax dollars, all money received from the public dole. The tax money they “paid” was actually money they returned to the U.S. Treasury from whence it came. They didn’t produce anything for that money — except a lot of hot air about global warming, reinventing government and excuses about the lack of any “controlling legal authority” governing his campaign fund-raising calls made on government time, government phones and within government buildings.

Let’s also remember that the Gores’ housing is free, at least to them. Once again, we pay the enormous tab for that — as well as for their food, chauffeur, auto expenses, domestic help, entertainment expenses, travel, etc. In other words, they have no bills, thanks to the taxpayers. We pay it all — the works, everything but their kids’ birthday presents. Nevertheless, the Gores took advantage of the tax code and depreciated the properties they do own in Virginia and Tennessee.

To put this miserly expression in perspective, you need to know that the Gores paid $4,500 for the preparation of their highly complex 30-page tax return — one which allowed them to take advantage of every loophole permitted under the law. In other words, to the Gores, their accountant is more important than their church and all their favorite charities combined — in fact, more than 10 times as important.

That brings us to the amount actually paid in federal taxes by the Gores. It represents about 24 percent of their income. That’s far less than I paid, and I earned less last year than the Gores. So, while Gore is a proponent of a “progressive” income tax in theory, he doesn’t think it should apply to him and his family.

Remember, Al Gore was the guy who, a few years back, suggested that anyone who earned $200,000 a year or more should be taxed as a “millionaire,” because in five years, they would have earned a million dollars. By that logic, why isn’t Al Gore paying taxes at the highest rate? Isn’t he, by his own definition, part of the millionaire’s club?

In fact, he is. Al Gore comes from a very wealthy family. He stands to inherit a fortune earned thanks to a cozy political partnership between his father and Armand Hammer, the late gazillionaire who made his money by bedding down with a long line of Soviet dictators starting with Lenin. So this idea of redistributing other peoples’ money, not their own, is something of a family tradition among the Gores. You might say it’s in the blood.

What’s really remarkable about this tax return, though, is that the Gores knew it would be made public. They aren’t ashamed of it. This is their giving pattern when they know the world’s eyes are upon them. You can imagine what they would do with their money if they were in private life and their returns secret. That $353 would probably be invested with Hillary Clinton’s cattle futures speculator.

$353. That’s $6.78 a week. That’s 97 cents a day. It’s astonishing. And it speaks volumes about the character of our vice president.

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