Al Gore returns to Florida

The former vice president holds his tongue as Democrats call on him to blast Bush.

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Anger management

Al Gore made his first trip to Florida since Election Eve Wednesday, and was greeted by well wishers there to protest President Bush’s election.

Gore spoke to a group of travel executives in Orlando, and defended his self-imposed silence on the new administration

“I decided to observe a period in which I would not re-enter the public arena to criticize what the new president was doing,” he said. “The time will come when that will feel appropriate. But I just think that after what we’ve been through, we need a little time to kind of get our act together in the United States.”

The St. Petersberg Times offers a full report of the Gore visit, including a bit of self-deprecating humor. The Times writes, “Another hint of regret came when he summed up the election this way: ‘You know you win some, you lose some, and then there’s that little-known third category.’”

This column also received a handful of harrowing accounts from die-hard Gore supporters who turned out to protest Wednesday, including this one from the Oral Majority’s Bob Kunst.

Protesters held signs welcoming “President Gore” and referring to Bush as “illegitimable.”

But even those hard-core Gore supporters were dismayed by his decision to hold his tongue on the new administration, and what went down in Florida last year. Kunst likened Gore’s silence to “the battered woman who refuses to testify.”

“One delegate to the convention came over to harass us by first screaming about Gore’s weight, and then verbally attacked us … in good Nazi lingo,” the report continues. (In one Free Republic thread Thursday, a poster writes, “Another 20 pounds and a beard, and he can stand in for Luciano Pavarotti!”)

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But Kunst said it was time for Gore to either speak out or get out. “We threw down the gauntlet and said to Al and the Dems. that America needs you and if you aren’t going to respond, then get out of the way in 2002 and 2004.”

Weblines

Drudge Report: “Network Wars: Fox Accuses CBS of Rigging ‘Survivor’”
Andrew Sullivan: “The Nanny-State Versus AIDS Research” WorldNet Daily: “Reporter Targeted by IRS?”
Tom Paine.com: “Justice for Sale in Texas?”
Virginia Postrel: “Conservation Hypocrisy”

Big buzz

How much more pain and suffering will Bill Clinton have to endure? From Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky to Marc Rich and Office Space-Gate, the poor guy just can’t seem to get a break.

And now the New York Post’s Sidney Zion reports that Clinton can’t find his way to New York’s toniest golf courses. What’s a former president to do?

“Bill, you have no chance. Winged Foot, near his home in Chappaqua, is out; the Westchester Country Club is out; Deepdale, on Long Island, also. All the great WASP links are barred to Clinton. That they are mainly off-base to Jews and blacks is one thing, but to the former president of the United States?”

“No golfing this summer Beelz-a Bubba!” gloats one Free Republic poster. Another chimes in: “It’s just a sad day when an ex-President can’t get a reception at a country club … not that I’m by any means complaining — au contraire. In fact I think it’s fitting Clinton’s being treated as the social leper he has so justly deserved to be.”

But the Associated Press reports that Clinton has been busily remaking his image since leaving office. Those country clubs may come calling soon enough. “Since leaving office, Clinton has helped found an organization of Americans who want to rebuild villages destroyed in January by an earthquake in India. Already, the group has raised $8 million. He also visited India this spring and plans to help launch the India Service Corps, modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps. Recently he attended an AIDS summit in Africa and embarked on extended trips to Europe and China. He also started a Clinton Democracy Fellowship program, which brings South African students to the United States to learn how to run community service programs.”

But in the short term, the Post says, the former president is going to Plan B.

“Last time I looked, he was not O.J. Simpson. And my sources assure me he will not be relegated to the public links. ‘We’re working on the Jewish clubs. One of them is bound to take him,’” a source tells the Post.

Whew.

For more Red vs. Blue, click here.

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at redvsblue@salon.com, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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