Politics & Policy

The Gore Lies

Vice President Gore has a problem with the truth.

“There has never been a time in this campaign when I have said something that I know to be untrue.” — Vice President Al Gore, January 26, 2000

By now, pretty much everyone recognizes that Vice President Gore has a problem with the truth. So we decided to perform our own assessment of Gore’s veracity, and came up with a list of lies, originally published in the May 22, 2000 issue of NR. But, be warned: This is not a static list. As more Gore Lies pop up, we will out them here — so check back often.

#ad#New Lie! ALL R&D

October 17; third presidential debate, St. Louis

CLAIM: “The big drug companies…are now spending more money on advertising and promotion — you see all these ads — than they are on research and development.”

TRUTH: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported in July that drug companies spent between $5.8 billion and $8.3 billion on marketing and $21 billion on research in 1998, according to CBS News.

— by John J. Miller

FIRE LIE

October 3, 2000; First presidential debate, Boston, Mass.

CLAIM: “I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out [in Parker County].”

TRUTH: FEMA spokeswoman Mary Margaret Walker told NR: “During the fires in Parker County, Texas, the vice president participated in a roundtable about the fires with FEMA’s regional director. . . . He was not with Mr. Witt at that time.” Gore admitted as much on ABC’s Good Morning America: “I’ve made so many trips with James Lee to these disaster sites. I was there in Texas, in Houston, with the head of the Texas emergency management folks and with the federal emergency management folks. If James Lee was there before or after, then, you know, I got that wrong then.”

— by John J. Miller & Kathryn Jean Lopez

THE GIRL WITHOUT A SEAT

October 3, 2000; First presidential debate, Boston, Mass.

CLAIM: “I’d like to tell you a quick story. I got a letter today, as I left Sarasota, Florida. I’m here with a group of 13 people from around the country who helped me prepare and we had a great time. But two days ago we ate lunch at a restaurant and the guy who served us lunch sent — got me a letter today. His name is Randy Ellis, he has a 15-year-old daughter named Kailey, who’s in Sarasota High School. Her science class was supposed to be for 24 students. She is the 36th student in that classroom, sent me a picture of her in the classroom. They can’t squeeze another desk in for her, so she has to stand during class.”

October 4, A.M. Tampa Bay, 970AM WFLA

TRUTH: Dan Kennedy, principal of Sarasota High School: “I think the facts that he was provided with were inaccurate because we don’t really have any students standing in class, and we have more than enough desks for all of our students. . . .[What Gore was referring to] was probably one of the first days of school when we were in a process of leveling classes. [Kailey] did have an opportunity to use a lab stool, which was also available in the classroom. But we were refurbishing that classroom, and in the back of that picture, if you look carefully, you can see probably about $100,000 worth of new lab equipment that was waiting to be unpacked, which is one of the reasons the room looked as crowded as it did. The teacher did not notify us that he needed another desk. Had we known, we would have put one in there immediately.”

— by Kathryn Jean Lopez

BUSH’S EXPERIENCE

October 3, 2000; First presidential debate, Boston, Mass.

CLAIM: “I have actually not questioned Governor Bush’s experience.”

TRUTH: In an interview printed by the New York Times on March 12, Gore said: “You have to wonder whether [Bush] has the experience to be president. I mean, you really have to wonder. … You have to wonder: Does Governor Bush have the experience to be president? … Again you have to wonder: Does George Bush have the experience to be president?”

— by John J. Miller

SLICK GORE

Washington Post, Sept. 24

CLAIM: At Sept. 22 press conference, Gore says, “I’ve been a part of the discussions on the strategic reserve since the days when it was first established.”

TRUTH: President Ford established the Strategic Petroleum Reserves when he signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) on December 22, 1975 — two years before Al Gore became a congressman.

OFF KEY

USA Today, Sept. 19

CLAIM: Addressing a Teamsters meeting, Gore spoke of lullabies from his youth and sang, “Look for the union label.”

TRUTH: The song was written in 1975, when Gore was 27.

ARTHRITIS PAIN

Sept. 20, 2000; Associated Press

CLAIM: The vice president told Florida senior citizens in an Aug. 28 speech that his mother-in-law pays $108 a month for the same arthritis medicine he gives his dog for $37.80 a month.

TRUTH: The figures he used were taken from a House Democratic study and did not reflect his family’s own costs. Moreover, the study’s figures referred to wholesale prices, not prices paid by the consumer.

DEBATING BUSH

July 16, 2000; NBC’S Meet the Press

CLAIM: “I’ve accepted for two or three months now your invitation to debate on this program,” said Gore on NBC’s Meet the Press. “How are you going to persuade [Bush] to say yes, Tim?”

Tim Russert: “Well, maybe you’re helping today.”

Gore: “Well, do you think so? But what kind of approach — can you get Jack Welch involved?”

TRUTH: On the Today show on September 4, Gore refused to make good on this pledge.

Matt Lauer: “I do want to remind you that back in July, you had already agreed to the Meet the Press debate with Tim Russert.”

Gore: “Sure.”

Lauer: “Why now reject it?”

Gore: “I still agree to it. But first, let’s do the commissioned debates.”

SOFT MONEY

March 15, 2000; CNN

CLAIM: “What I did yesterday was to call on the Democratic National Committee—and they’ll comply with this—to not spend any of the so-called soft money on these issue ads unless and until the Republican Party does.”

TRUTH: “The Democratic National Committee announced a $25 million summer ad campaign, paid for with soft money. The Republicans, so far, have not bought ads with soft money for Bush.” (for full story, click here.)

TEXAS GOVERNOR

May 2, 2000; Washington Post

CLAIM: “You know [Bush] has never put together a budget. The governor of Texas is by far the weakest chief executive position in America and does not have the responsibility of forming or presenting a budget. He’s never done that.”

TRUTH: Texas law defines the governor as “the chief budget officer of the state” and orders him to distribute his budget to every member of the legislature. And Bush, in fact, has formed and presented budgets as governor.

BUSH CRIME RECORD

May 2, 2000; Atlanta YWCA speech

CLAIM: “Under Bush, Texas’ recidivism rate has increased by 25 percent.”

TRUTH: Nobody knows what has happened to the recidivism rate under Bush because those figures haven’t been published, due to extensive lag times in reporting. The most recent numbers are from 1994, according to the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council.

BUSH DEBT PLAN

April 25, 2000; Association for a Better New York speech

CLAIM: “He provides for no reduction in the debt — and no reduction in interest on the debt.”

TRUTH: By promising to reserve excess revenues generated by Social Security payroll taxes for Social Security, Bush essentially promises to retire federal debt with this money.

BUDGET SURPLUS

May 2, 2000; Washington Post

CLAIM: Describing the Clinton administration plan outlined in the 1999 State of the Union address to have the federal government invest some of the budget surplus in the stock market: “We didn’t really propose it. We talked about the idea.”

TRUTH: Page 37 of the Clinton administration budget submitted to Congress in February: “The President also proposes to invest half of the transferred amounts in corporate equities.” From last year’s budget: “The administration proposes tapping the power of private financial markets to increase the resources to pay for future Social Security benefits.”

TOBACCO #1

March 1, 2000; San Jose Mercury News

CLAIM: “It’s not fair to say, ‘Okay, after his sister died, he continued in the same relationship with the tobacco industry.’ I did not. I did not. I began to confront them forcefully. I don’t see the inconsistency there.”

TRUTH: The same month Gore’s sister died in 1984, he received a $1,000 speaking fee from U.S. Tobacco. The next year, he voted against cigarette and tobacco tax increases three times and favored a bill allowing major cigarette makers to purchase discounted tobacco. In the 1988 campaign, Gore bragged of his tobacco background: “I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put [tobacco] in the plant beds and transferred it. I’ve hoed it, I’ve dug in it, I’ve sprayed it, I’ve chopped it, I’ve shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn, and stripped it and sold it” (Newsday, 2-26-88).

TOBACCO #2

March 1, 2000; San Jose Mercury News

CLAIM: “My family had grown tobacco. It was never actually grown on my farm, but it was on my father’s farm.”

TRUTH: Gore had already admitted growing tobacco on his own farm: “On my farm, we stopped growing tobacco some time after Nancy died” (Cox News Service, 4-26-99). Also, Gore received federal subsidies for growing tobacco on his farm (Wall Street Journal, 8-10-95).

ABORTION #1

February 20, 2000; New York Times

CLAIM: Gore said he has “always, always, always” supported Roe v. Wade.

TRUTH: In 1977, Rep. Gore voted for the Hyde Amendment, which says that abortion “takes the life of an unborn child who is a living human being,” and that there is no constitutional right to abortion. He cast many other votes favorable to the pro-life cause and earned an 84 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

CROWD ESTIMATE

February 4, 2000; New York Times

CLAIM: “We had a huge event with 3,000 people at Ohio State University.”

TRUTH: “Officials at that rally said the room where it had taken place did not hold more than 1,200 people, and, given the area needed for the staging erected for the occasion, they estimated the crowd at 500,” reported the Times.

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY

February 2, 2000; Good Morning America

CLAIM: “We won in every single demographic category” in the New Hampshire primary.

TRUTH: Bill Bradley carried male voters and voters aged 18-29, according to exit polls.

BRADLEY VOTING RECORD

January 8, 2000; Democratic debate in Iowa

CLAIM: “Why did you [Bill Bradley] vote against the disaster relief for Chris Peterson when he and thousands of other farmers here in Iowa needed it after those ’93 floods?”

TRUTH: Bradley voted for $4.8 billion in flood aid and opposed an amendment, also opposed by the Clinton White House until the last minute, to add $900 million in disaster compensation.

HUBERT HUMPHREY

December 27, 1999; Washington Post

CLAIM: Gore has suggested that he contributed important lines to Hubert Humphrey’s acceptance speech at the 1968 Democratic convention. “Young Gore later often told the story . . . [A]s [he] sat in the convention hall and looked up at Humphrey in the spotlight, he thought he heard his own words coming back to him.”

TRUTH: When Gore’s supposed conduit to Humphrey denied the influence, Gore blamed his recollection on “Faulty memory. Faulty memory.”

RESIDENCE

December 23, 1999; ABCNews.com

CLAIM: “I live on a farm today. I have my heart in my own farm.”

TRUTH: Gore lives in the vice-presidential mansion at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. After making this farm claim, Gore said: “Yes, I live in Washington, D.C., when I’m working there”!

INTERNET PROTECTION

December 17, 1999; Democratic debate on Nightline

CLAIM: “I helped to negotiate an agreement with the Internet service providers to put a parent-protection page up and give parents the ability to click on all the websites that their children have visited lately. That’ll put a lot of bargaining leverage in the hands of parents.”

TRUTH: Bartlett Cleland of the Internet Education Foundation, seven months earlier: “There was no Gore involvement. They hijacked this issue. He makes it sound like he led the project. I can’t imagine what he will invent tomorrow” (Washington Times, 5-6-99).

LOVE CANAL

December 1, 1999; Concord High School, Concord, N.H.

CLAIM: “I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. I had the first hearing on that issue.”

TRUTH: In October 1978, Gore did hold congressional hearings on Love Canal — which he apparently “found” two months after President Carter declared it a disaster area and the federal government offered to buy the homes.

HOME BUILDER

November 30, 1999; New England Business Council, Manchester, N.H.

CLAIM: “I was a home builder after I came back from Viet-nam. . . . I know a good bit about how to make money that way. . . . To build this country is a great thing.”

TRUTH: A Gore family corporation, Tanglewood Home­ builders, built nine houses between 1969 and 1973 on property once owned by Gore’s father. “I believe he [Al Gore Jr.] came by a time or two, but not too often,” Jewell Dillehay, the contractor for the development, told the Orange County Register on February 20, 1988.

MCCAIN-FEINGOLD CAMPAIGN-FINANCE BILL

November 24, 1999; New York Times

CLAIM: “Unlike Senator Bradley, I was a co-sponsor of it.”

TRUTH: Gore and Russell Feingold never served together in the Senate. Gore later admitted to the Times that his comment “was a mistake . . . [W]hat I meant to say was that I supported that.”

EITC

November 1, 1999; Time interview

CLAIM: “I was the author of that proposal [the Earned Income Tax Credit]. I wrote that, so I say [to Bill Bradley], Welcome aboard. That is something for which I have been the principal proponent for a long time.”

TRUTH: The original EITC law was enacted in 1975. Gore entered Congress in 1977.

STIFF AND WOODEN

October 23, 1999; Associated Press

CLAIM: “I never got that stiff-and-wooden rap in the House and Senate. It has been as vice president.”

TRUTH: Time, March 21, 1988: “A joke among the press corps is, How do you tell Al Gore from his Secret Service protection? Answer: He’s the stiff one.”

VIETNAM SERVICE

October 15, 1999; Los Angeles Times

CLAIM: “I carried an M-16. . . . I pulled my turn on the perimeter at night and walked through the elephant grass, and I was fired upon.” In 1988, Gore told the Washington Post: “I was shot at. . . . I spent most of my time in the field.”

TRUTH: Gore never faced direct enemy fire, although several times he may have arrived on the scene shortly after fighting was completed.

TEST-BAN TREATY

October 14, 1999; Gore ad

CLAIM: “I ask for your support, and your mandate if elected president, to send this treaty back to the Senate with your demand that they ratify it. I’ve worked on this for 20 years because, unless we get this one right, nothing else matters.”

TRUTH: Gore indeed “worked on” this matter for many years, but often in opposition to a test ban. During his presidential campaign in 1988, he criticized his Democratic primary opponents for “the very idea of having a complete ban on all flight-testing of missiles when we rely on deterrence for the survival of our civilization” (Washington Post, 2-22-88).

INTERNET

March 9, 1999; CNN interview

CLAIM: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

TRUTH: The Internet is an outgrowth of a Pentagon program established in 1969. In the 1980s, Gore supported legislation considered favorable to the Internet’s development.

CENSUS

July 16, 1998; NAACP annual convention

CLAIM: “The Republicans know theirs is the wrong agenda for African Americans. They don’t even want to count you in the census!”

TRUTH: Most Republicans opposed the Clinton administration’s plan to conduct the census by statistically sampling the population rather than actually trying to count everybody.

BUDDHIST TEMPLE

January 24, 1997; Today show

CLAIM: “I did not know that it was a fundraiser.”

TRUTH: A DNC memo prepared for Gore made plain that the event at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, Calif., was a fundraiser. A Secret Service document called it a fundraiser, Gore’s staff described the event as a fundraiser to reporters, and DNC chairman Don Fowler testified to the Senate that he knew “there was a fundraising aspect to this event.” Six weeks before attending the event, Gore met with temple master Hsing Yun at the White House with fundraisers Maria Hsia and John Huang. Later that day, Gore sent an e-mail saying that he couldn’t be in New York on April 28, 1996: “If we have already booked the fundraisers [in California], then we have to decline.”

ABORTION #2

January 22, 1997; NARAL meeting

CLAIM: “I reached out to individuals who are leaders on the [pro-life] side of this issue” to “make common cause” on reducing unwanted pregnancies. He went on to imply that Catholic pro-lifers’ opposition to birth control made it impossible for both sides join “together to make abortions rare.”

TRUTH: Despite many queries, no pro-life leader has ever said Gore approached him on this subject.

PEACE CORPS

February 16, 1992; C-SPAN’s Booknotes

CLAIM: Gore said his sister was “the very first volunteer for the Peace Corps.”

TRUTH: Nancy Gore Hunger was a paid employee at Peace Corps headquarters, 1961-64.

SUPERFUND

April 16, 1988; Democratic debate in New York

CLAIM: “I have written the law, along with one other principal author of the Superfund law, and amendments to the other major law in this area, which requires that companies improperly disposing of hazardous waste must bear the financial consequences of cleaning it up.”

TRUTH: Rep. Jim Florio, Democrat of New Jersey, wrote the first Superfund law in 1980. Gore was not a coauthor but merely one of 42 cosponsors in the House. Eight years before claiming authorship and praising the Superfund law, Gore criticized it for being “far too small to make a reasonable start on correcting this enormous environmental problem” (Congressional Record, 5-16-80).

HOMETOWN

February 1988; two ads

CLAIM: “I’m Al Gore. I grew up on a farm,” and “growing up in Carthage, Tennessee, I learned our bedrock values . . .”

TRUTH: Gore, the son of a senator, grew up primarily at the Fairfax Hotel in Washington, D.C., in a suite of rooms overlooking Embassy Row. He graduated from the ritzy St. Albans National Cathedral School, also in the capital.

SCHOOL DAYS

1988 campaign video

CLAIM: Narrator calls him a “brilliant student.”

TRUTH: “His grades were uneven, never approaching the plateau of A’s and B’s that might be expected of one who possesses such a pedagogical demeanor,” reported the Washington Post (3-19-00).

MUSIC LYRICS

November 3, 1987; Variety

CLAIM: “I was not in favor of the hearing” on music lyrics.

TRUTH: At the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on September 19, 1985, Gore said: “Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you and commend you for calling this hearing. Because my wife has been heavily involved in the evolution of this issue, I have gained quite a bit of familiarity with it, and I have really gained an education in what is involved.”

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER

September 27, 1987; Des Moines Register

CLAIM: Gore claimed he “got a bunch of people indicted and sent to jail” as a reporter in the 1970s.

TRUTH: Two city councilmen were indicted; one was acquitted and the other given a suspended sentence. In an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal (10-3-87) a few days later, Gore admitted to “a careless statement that was unintentional.”

FEMALE STAFFERS

August 22, 1987; Associated Press

CLAIM: Gore “said half his campaign staff were women, and he would make half of a Gore Cabinet women.”

TRUTH: “But pressed by reporters later to name women on his staff, he fumbled and then mentioned one name, which later turned out to be incorrect.”

ARMS CONTROL

1984 Senate ad

CLAIM: Narrator says Gore “wrote the bipartisan plan on arms control that U.S. negotiators will take to the Russians.”

TRUTH: Ken Adelman, director of U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency: “He had nothing to do with what we proposed to the Soviets” (Boston Globe, 4-11-00).

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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