I'm glad the Gore sex case has been reopened

While some of the details sound risible, Gore admirers shouldn't just assume a woman invented a story of abuse

Published July 3, 2010 8:01PM (EDT)

Former Vice President Al Gore. Right: Hotel Lucia in Portland, Ore., where the former vice-president is accused of groping a massage therapist four years ago.
Former Vice President Al Gore. Right: Hotel Lucia in Portland, Ore., where the former vice-president is accused of groping a massage therapist four years ago.

Police in Portland, Ore., have decided to reopen an investigation into whether former Vice President Al Gore committed sexual assault four years ago. Gore, according to his spokeswoman, welcomes the move. She says "further investigation into this matter will only benefit Mr Gore." Even by the standards of public relations, that seems unreasonably rosy.

There are details that make the 54-year-old massage therapist's story seem like a ridiculous smear, ripped from the fantasies of Matt Drudge. Gore put on the Pink song about Bush? His "second chakra"? (Assuming that all liberals follow hippie mysticism New Age BS is a familiar right-wing trope. But, you know, maybe!) She saved pants with his DNA on them! (What, he didn't have time to give her a copy of "Leaves of Grass"?)

And the accuser does her credibility with liberals no favors when she claims she called Gore a "crazed sex poodle" and says her liberal friends ("The Birkenstock Tribe," oy) told her that if she alerted the authorities, "the world's going to be destroyed from global warming."

On the other hand, there's a long, disgusting history of powerful men committing and getting away with sex crimes against women. The "defenses" voiced by many liberals are grossly misogynist. It's responses like these that, you know, cause women to not report rape in the first place.

As for the cops not pursuing the case when they first learned of the charges, well, we here in New York have learned recently that cops have their own reasons for not pursuing sexual assault cases.

Gore was in that hotel that day. Gore enjoys massages while on the road A friend of the accuser told the Oregonian that she called him hours after the incident "crying" and "distraught."

I would hesitate to assume that Gore is innocent based solely on the fact that you admire his public service. In American society, the presumption of innocence is far too often confused with the presumption that a victim of sexual assault is a crazy lying slut.

The cops say the investigation was improperly closed to begin with, and reopening it is obviously the right thing to do. Rape or sexual assault charges should never be summarily dismissed because some of the details sound wacky or the alleged victim seems unreliable. These are all obvious points, and practically gospel among most liberals, but it's hard to find too many of them making that case when the accused is our Nobel Prize-winning, planet-saving, shoulda-been president.

The reopening of the investigation could end with no charges being filed, especially if the accuser can't produce any of the physical evidence she's been showing to the Enquirer. And should that happen, I'll assume Gore's innocent. But until then, I'm reserving judgment. (Except on the people leaving misogynist comments: They're the scum of the Internet.)

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Al Gore Crime Sexual Abuse