In "The Devil's Dictionary" Ambrose Bierce defined a "politician" as "An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive." I guess some definitions do stand the test of time.
Al Gore is on the hot seat in the wake of the latest Robert Conrad recommendation for Attorney General Janet Reno's Justice Department to investigate the wannabe presidential candidate. Gore is indignant and unrepentant. Reno is PO'd. Congress is turning the screws. And the American people are busy transforming malaise into an art form.
FBI Director Louis Freeh told Janet to investigate Al. Despite administration efforts to deny, delay and obfuscate, WorldNetDaily has the Freeh memorandum for you to read yourself.
Charles LaBella, then supervising attorney for the Justice Department's own Campaign Financing Task Force, tried unsuccessfully in a scathing 94-page document to compel his superior, The Wicked Witch of the East, to do the same. Again, WorldNetDaily offers it for you to read yourself.
Reno rejected both strong recommendations. Now Conrad wants an investigation into both fund-raising, and potential Al Gore felonies. I say felonies, because it is a felony to lie to a federal investigator.
Under normal or fair circumstances Gore's selective memory loss and "I sure as hell don't recall" mantra would fail to work. However, it has worked -- time and time again for this corrupt reigning administration.
In at times heated exchanges, Vice President Al Gore told investigators "I sure as hell don't recall,'' being told that a 1996 event at a Buddhist temple was a fund-raiser, according to transcript released by the White House Friday. Please note in classic Clintonesque form he did not say he "was not told." He did not say, "No one needed to tell me, I knew damn right well it was a fund-raiser." He didn't say "Buddhist clerics aren't supposed to have money anyway, so I was just doing them a favor restoring them to their vows of poverty." No, he used what has become the traditional parsing of words to kinda, sorta, be almost accurate, but not really -- it really all depends on what the definition of "is" is.
In what is either a brilliant strategic move (no doubt veiled in the false hope nobody will actually read the transcript) or strategic brain flatulence, Gore ordered release of the full transcript of his interview with Conrad, the federal prosecutor who has recommended the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the vice president's statements about his 1996 fund-raising.
The 150-page transcript includes extensive questions and answers about Gore's fund-raising activities -- most specifically about his attendance at the Buddhist temple event in California. Gore, with the intensity of Bill Clinton denying Gennifer Flowers, and Monica Lewinsky, adamantly denied knowing that political money was being raised at the temple. His protestations resemble the child caught cold that responds, "I didn't do it! And if I did, I promise I won't do it again. ..."
Al testified, "I sure as hell don't recall having -- I sure as hell did not have any conversations with anyone saying this is a fund-raising event.'' Gosh if Vice President Bore actually used "h-e-double hockey sticks," he must be uncharacteristically vehement.
Then the son of Armand Hammer's lackey said, "As to whether or not I had any follow-up conversations that said, were we able to set up this event or not, I don't think I did. But I may have. ...'' Wow! Such clarity ... such command presence. Perhaps it would have been better if he said, "I don't think so, maybe, I'm not sure, I could have, but then again maybe I didn't. ... Who? What? Where? When? You know Newt Gingrich cheated on his wife ... I'd never cheat on Tipper ... even if I could ... which by the way, I can't." Got it?
Conrad, as chief of the Justice Department's campaign financing task force, had the assistance of two FBI agents. The questions repeatedly and persistently focused on the temple fund-raiser.
"You were aware in late February, were you not, that there was a goal of raising $108 million by the DNC (Democratic National Committee)?'' Gore was asked.
"Yes,'' the vice president replied.
"Then a couple of months later there is a DNC-sponsored event at the temple, and it didn't raise any fund-raising issues in your mind?''
"I did not know this was a fund-raiser,'' Gore replied. Hey, in his mind it wasn't a fund-raiser, not really. Actually if you think about it, it was more of a photo opportunity that just happened "coincidentally" to serve the added function of laundering some money. Does anyone really think the money was really being donated by the Buddhist nuns? Duh! A sixth grader with a 10-minute briefing on chain of custody would understand the Buddhists were straw dogs. And notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, Al knew it.
However, before anyone gets too enthused with the prospect of right, justice, and common sense winning anything in this political drama, consider the frustration of reality and the calendar.
Gore is guilty. Louis Freeh knows it, Charles LaBella knows it, Robert Conrad knows it -- even Janet Reno knows it. And, for sure, Al Gore knows it. So what? The American people are underwhelmed. So he made campaign calls from his office, so he solicited and accepted illegal money, so he fibbed to government officials asking hard questions. ...
Reality is Reno has repeatedly rejected any and all recommendations to even investigate her masters. It would be contrary to her entire tainted career to expect her to bow to minor inconveniences like popular opinion or overwhelming facts.
Meanwhile, take a look at a calendar. Here we are in the end of June. July 4 is around the corner, and Congress is anxious for summer recess. There are two national party conventions in August, probably accented with a few L.A. riots, which will command righteous indignation for the Sunday morning talking heads programs. Oh, they'll be back after Labor Day, but both parties are going to be focused on the November elections. After the dust settles from the elections there are maybe 30 days before winter holidays, and then ... Happy New Year and a new administration and Congress.
Bottom line: This latest dust-up will be good for punditry, great for talk radio, and may help buy political consultants new cars, but Al Gore will not be investigated beyond some partisan political posturing.
However, unless or until G.W. cuts a deal with the devil, consider the following as a 2001 wish list: