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Why Is The Press (Still) Unfair To Al Gore?

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A confession: In my new book, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush," I didn't really have the heart to revisit the 2000 campaign to document, yet again, how the Beltway press corps, enamored with Bush's charm and alleged authenticity, completely rolled over for the Republican, while waging an oddly personal and contemptuous War on Gore. (See The Daily Howler.)

But this week, just as Gore's star rose with the release of his widely acclaimed movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," the press' utterly predictable backlash swung into action, proving that any attempt to erase 2000 from your memory is pointless because the Beltway press class' disdain for Gore knows no bounds and carries no expiration date. That's why one so-called liberal newspaper was busy this week publishing a right-wing attack against Gore over trivial matters like what exactly he did--and where he was--during the summer he turned 15. (I kid you not.) Chris Matthews was inviting guests on his show, and lauding them, for writing Gore "is one slice short of a loaf." PBS' Gwen Ifil was asking one Gore profiler if the former VP doesn't come off as "holier than thou." And MSNBC's Don Imus was ridiculing Gore as "the phoniest bastard on the planet--a horrid human being."

In other words, anybody who thought media elites harbored regrets for the blatantly dishonest way they treated Gore in 2000, and the shocking misuse the Fourth Estate that accompanied it, should think again.

Nonetheless, one Gore put-down in particular this week caught my eye. The passage appeared in a Slate article about the "New" Al Gore, and amidst a laundry list of CW-sanctioned jabs regarding Gore's past failures, Slate's John Dickerson reminisced about how Gore "struggled to beat a weak Bill Bradley in the 2000 Democratic primaries." Really? Obviously the press rooted for Bradley and did everything it could to boost his chances in an effort to tear down Gore, whom so many reporters personally disliked. But did Gore really "struggle" putting away primary contender Bradley at the ballot box? I went back and looked up the answer. Here's a look at the 2000 Democratic primary results, state-by-state in alphabetical order (Bradley was not on the ballot in every state):

Arizona, Gore +59
California, Gore +63
Colorado, Gore +47
Connecticut, Gore +14
Delaware, Gore +15
District of Columbia, Gore +90
Florida, Gore +63
Georgia, Gore +66
Idaho, Gore +59
Illinois, Gore +70
Indiana, Gore +53
Kentucky, Gore +65
Louisiana, Gore +52
Maine, Gore +13
Maryland, Gore +39.
Massachusetts, Gore +23.
Michigan, Gore +42

You can see where this is gong. In the end, Gore won every primary contest against Bradley in 2000, and did it by an average of +47. Gore threw a shut-out in what was one of the most lopsided routs in recent primary history as Bradley, despite spending $40 million, was only competitive in a handful of New England states. But now Slate, which fawned over Bradley in real time, casually re-writes history to suggest Gore "struggled" against Bradley. That's pure fiction. But that's how the Beltway press corps--incapable of treating Gore fairly--operates.