Will Americans cut Vice President Al Gore as much slack as President Clinton? Not likely.
When Clinton gets caught in a lie, it's infuriating how he comes off to many as some kind of charming rogue as he double-talks his way out of it. It's like watching a master con man at work -- you know he's putting one over on you, but he does it with such grace and style you think "What's the harm?" and forgive him anyway.
Gore, however, has none of Clinton's devilish charisma. When the vice-president lies, he comes off as a pompous, self-righteous hypocrite -- which, in fact, he is.
Recall how the veep claimed his sister's death due to smoking turned him against tobacco? -- even though the record shows as Tennessee's U.S. senator he still courted tobacco farmers' votes and tobacco industry money long after his sister's funeral.
That was a harmless political lie. Since then he has been caught in more serious ones -- in particular, the infamous laundered-money Buddhist fund-raiser that he said wasn't a fund-raiser. And his claim last March that there was "no controlling legal authority" prohibiting him from making campaign fund-raising calls from his West Wing office, despite the fact the White House's own counsel advised that such calls violated federal law.
Now the Associated Press has caught Gore in another lie, growing out of that March news conference. The vice-president said all his White House fund-raisers were made on the Democratic National Committee's credit card. But according to records the AP got through the Freedom of Information Act, at least 20 calls were not made on the DNC credit card.
When this was pointed out, Gore's office reimbursed the government $24.20, the supposed cost of the calls made on government credit cards. Well, what about the $600,000 the unlawful calls raised? Shouldn't that money also be returned -- for moral reasons, if not legal ones?
The "Mr. Clean" image that Gore has so carefully cultivated over the years is so muddied up that even his liberal media allies have trouble taking it seriously.
Congressional committees investigating fund-raising illegalities ought to put Gore right at the top of their witness list. A few high-profile appearances before the panels should publicly expose this sanctimonious snake-in-the-grass for what he is.