Al Gore tells Queen Latifah what he likes

Will the image of Tipper Gore in a lace merry widow affect me when I enter the polling booth?

By George Kelly

Published November 1, 2000 8:00PM (EST)

Perhaps I am a man who knows too much about Al Gore.

I'm not talking about what his opponents unjustly label his ability to morph into an advocate of whatever cause is near and dear to his audience, or his occasional factual slips.

I'm talking about Gore as a sexual being. Now, don't all drop your mice at once. Before you ponder that too much, arrest your "recoil" reflex and consider the following tidbits of information, all released within the past several months or so:

  • We know he's able to lip tall spouses in a single bound, earning continued praise and good-natured catcalls -- as well as the occasional hiss -- along the campaign trail.

  • We know that he likes to sleep "in a bed," as he told Oprah Winfrey in his mid-September visit to her show.

  • We know that he's a sleeping-in-the-buff buff, if his wife Tipper's comments to NBC's Claire Shipman while flipping through a photo album have been reported accurately. "That's part of his personality. That's the way he was when he was 17, when I met him," Tipper said. "That was something I liked in him, handsome, sexy, a little reserved. Watch out, America."

  • We know, thanks to pre-release publicity about this month's now-infamous Rolling Stone interview with Gore, that when the periodical put him on its cover, company artists had to retouch the front of his pants to present his vice presidential endowment properly. They apparently didn't want to shock readers unused to seeing anyone on the cover besides actors, musicians and other culturally approved purveyors of sexually charged content.

    And now, thanks to a Reuters report of a chat he had last week with talk show host Queen Latifah, I know that when it comes to women, Gore prefers lace to leather.

    "On a woman, leather or lace?" Latifah asked Gore, giving him a pop culture quiz during a taping of her show.

    "Lace," Gore answered, after a brief pause.

    The taping, for broadcast Wednesday, took place at Scott Community College while Gore was making a campaign visit to the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois.

    "Have you ever worn leather pants?" Latifah asked.

    Gore said no, but that he had a leather vest he used to wear when he rode around on his motorcycle, which led to a discussion of his youthful driving habits.

    "I look back on those days and I feel like I'm very lucky to have survived," he said.

    I wish Gore had been faster on his feet. I wish there weren't so much at stake for him, because there are several other ways he could have responded to the question about lace vs. leather:

    1. "Both, actually. We had those very materials focus-group tested, and it just so happens that that's just what the American people prefer."

    2. "Are you referring to lingerie, or do you mean restraints, gags and blindfolds?"

    3. "Are we talking Tipper, Hillary ... or you?"

    4. "All my women wear Victoria's Secret lace, Latifah, or they wear nothing at all!"

    Did you ever obtain a piece of information that you didn't quite know how to process, that wasn't much help to you in and of itself, that just led you further and further from useful thought processes and polite conversation?

    It's the sort of stuff I thought I didn't have to consider anymore. Hadn't we entered a new era, one where people like Kenneth Starr and Newt Gingrich didn't have to spend millions of dollars to ascertain the who, what, where, when and why of our politicians and their extremities?

    Thing is, I need all the information I can get when it comes to making an informed decision, marking my ballot for my candidate of choice and making sure the wheels of democracy continue to spin. But what can I say: I'm a little twisted. And if the image of Tipper Gore in a lacy merry widow in bed (with, say, Al advancing on her and whispering a slightly altered version of Prince's "Darling Nikki" -- "I knew a girl named Tipper/I guess you could say she was a sex fiend" -- before seizing her and planting another one of those eight-second Democratic Convention kisses on her) should cross my mind while I'm in the voting booth Tuesday, well, please don't hold me responsible.

    And yes, if it should cross your mind too, you can thank me later.

  • George Kelly

    George Kelly is a copy editor at Salon.

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