Dan Quayle caught a lot of flack for being a moron, which is not a
nice thing to do to a guy — harmful to the self-esteem and all. Well,
the media must have been convicted that endlessly pointing out the
mental vacuity of veeps is morally wrong, because, when it came time for
Al Gore to become the most important substitute player in professional
sports, the pundits, journalists, and anonymous sources all stayed home
any time Gore used his wingtips to wipe the drool from his mouth.
While Gore may be capable of spelling potato without a hitch,
considering the many moronic mutterings he’s made since donning the
mantle of vice president, he definitely needs the “Be a dolt for free”
pass the media decided to grant him so many years ago.
Remember the incident in which the VP was strolling through the halls
of Monticello, ogling at the busts of the Founding Fathers? “Who are
these people?” Gore asked the tour guide. Without a chuckle, the
gracious man was kind enough inform the vice president that he was
staring at the figures of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin –
folks who he had hopefully heard about, I should think.
Then there was the time he took credit for inspiring the hero in the
1970s weepy romance novel, “Love Story,” which later became a weepy hit
movie. According to the author Erich Segal, the hero was “the tough,
macho guy who’s a poet at heart.” Gore tends to conjure up an entirely
different image: a long wooden plank. Actually, according to Segal, it
was Gore’s Harvard roommate, actor Tommy Lee Jones, that can claim the
“macho … poet” inspiration.
Not to break the pattern, it was another case of mistaken identity
that landed Gore into trouble in June 1998. He was making his opening
remarks to the National Summit on Fatherhood, enthusiastically
congratulating the Chicago Bulls for their incredible win the night
before with a last-minute play by basketball great Michael Jordan — a
fact which apparently eluded the vice president. “I tell you,” he said,
“that Michael Jackson is unbelievable, isn’t he? He’s just
What’s really unbelievable is that he could confuse tall, buff,
photogenic Jordan with short, skinny, unattractive Jackson — who walks
backward, grabs his crotch on stage, and sings like a woman. Heck,
Jackson’s not even black anymore.
Interestingly enough, as Human Events reported, a Lexis-Nexis search
of news stories revealed that, four days after Gore’s goof-up, only four
references were found about it; yet, a similar search of news stories
four days after Quayle’s “potatoe” incident produced some 33 separate
news citations about Quayle’s flub.
While Gore’s failures in the categories of history, literature, film
and sports are just as monstrous as they are asinine, we should probably
dismiss them as areas outside his reputed field of expertise. Gore is
widely touted as being the administration’s high-tech hotdog, cyber czar
and Grand Poobah of computer processing — an assertion that is
decidedly more humorous than the jokes the vice president tells at
On March 9, 1999, Gore proudly played the toe-nibbling game when he
was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to ramble off a few accomplishments that
distinguished him from the equally boring presidential hopeful Bill
Bradley. “During my service in the United States Congress,” Gore
answered in the response that has now become legendary, “I took the
initiative in creating the Internet.”
Never mind that the foundations of the Net were laid in 1967, getting
its first real start in 1969, when Gore was still frustrating his law
professors at Vanderbilt University — eight long years before the newly
elected Gore parked his brain by the doormat of his congressional office
and began his long career of frustrating the nation.
Gore’s tech fuddling goes well beyond his misinformation
superhighway, however. Shortly before the Net-creation gaffe, according
to a Wired News report, Gore introduced Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers
at a White House event, saying that he greatly valued Chambers and one
of Cisco’s more well-known products. Gore’s words belied his ignorance,
however, when he mispronounced “routers,” as root-ers.
Further demonstrating his penchant for tech matters muddled, Gore was
quoted in the San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 28, 1999, as saying that the
U.S. will definitely be prepared for the Millennium Bug:
- We feel, and the Defense Department feels, that problem is not
going to be a problem. Of course, it can’t be a problem. We won’t allow
it to be a problem. … We’re confident that it is going to be solved,
but we’re going to be doubly, triply and quadrupally confident that it’s
going to be solved before September of this year.
No wonder folks are so nervous about Y2K.
President Clinton came to his underling’s defense saying that Gore
was “one of the major architects of America’s progress in technology.”
You’d never know it.
If all of the preceding were not enough to prove that reasonable
folks shouldn’t stake much faith in Gore’s techno know-how, according to
an Associated Press report titled, “Gore Touts Job-Training Programs at
Pittsburgh Factory,” the vice president “smiled and admitted that he has
trouble turning on a computer — let alone using one.” To be fair, that
story was dated Sept. 4, 1998; it’s possible that he’s learned how to
turn on a computer by now.
There’s certainly one thing I’ve learned as well: that Dan Quayle was
absolutely correct when he said, “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind
– or not to have a mind. How true that is.”
Yes, how very true that is.
Joel Miller is assistant editor of