Gore gambles on truth

The vice president tells all in a fundraising investigation transcript.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 24, 2000 10:27PM (EDT)

The vice president is fighting fundraising fraud rumors with full disclosure. MSNBC reports that Al Gore, declaring "the truth is my friend," ordered his attorney to release the full 150-page transcript of his interview with a federal prosecutor about fundraising in the 1996 election campaign. "I want people to judge for themselves," Gore said. His disclosure was prompted by a rumor, spread by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., that a Justice Department attorney will recommend the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the vice president.

In her weekly press conference, Attorney General Janet Reno refused to discuss the matter in depth, and vowed to track down the leak in her own office that brought the news to public attention. "The worst thing you can do in an investigation is dribble it out piece by piece," she said. "I don't want to present half facts. I don't want to present a piece here and a piece there that may not be corroborated. I want to do it the right way."

The hangman's hangover
Gore's troubles offered a welcome distraction for the Bush campaign, which was trying to recover its footing after Gary Graham's execution in Texas. According to CNN, Bush traveled from Texas to Alabama after enduring a week of demonstrations and catcalls from death penalty opponents in California. After leaving his home state, Bush discounted the protests that plagued him on the road and at home over Graham's case. "There have been some cases that are very high profile," he said. "This case happens to be one of them, and my job is to enforce the law, which I intend to continue to do."

Lonestar, pouting
Eager to change the subject from capital punishment, Bush revived the debate over Gore's stand on rising gas prices. Reuters reports that Bush carried Gore's book "Earth in the Balance" aboard his campaign plane, and asked reporters, "Want to talk about energy?" He then pointed out a Gore statement about the role of escalating gas prices in environmental improvement that seemed ambivalent. "I just want to remind everybody that in this book, this is a man who advocated raising gasoline taxes. Now [that] the price of gas is high under their watch in this current administration, he seems to be running from his position," Bush said. The Texas governor also said Gore branded Bush as part of the problem in the gas price surge "because I'm from Texas."

Lazio's conspiracy theory
Bush wasn't the only one feeling picked on by the Clinton administration. Rep. Rick Lazio, who is running against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the New York Senate seat, said that a federal investigation of his stock dealings was politically motivated. "The Clinton administration has a long history of abusing federal authority and using government bureaucracies to attack their political opponents," said Lazio's campaign manager, Bill Dal Col. "Today, they reached a new low." The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a 1997 transaction in which Lazio turned a $2,300 investment into $16,000 over a two-week period. The first lady's campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, dismissed Lazio's complaint out of hand. "Desperate candidates make desperate charges," he said.

Poll positions
Presidential race:

  • Bush 49 to Gore 41 (NBC/Wall Street Journal June 14-18).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (CNN/Time June 14-15).
  • Bush 52 to Gore 40 (Voter.com June 11-13).
  • Bush 50 to Gore 40 (Los Angeles Times June 8-13).
  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (Zogby June 9-12).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (ABC News/Washington Post June 8-11).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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