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A Tale of Two Vice Presidents

So much focus on the current Vice President's poor aim, so little focus on the former Vice President's poor judgement.  Dick Cheney accidentally blasted a friend in the face on Saturday in Texas. Al Gore purposefully blasted his country on Sunday in Saudi Arabia. 

The Chicago Sun-Times picked up my column on the subject today:

As with most things in politics and diplomacy, context is everything. Gore didn't need to fly halfway around the world to apologize to Muslims living, working and going to school in the United States after 9/11. And if Gore believed America's treatment of Muslims after Sept. 11 to be so shameful, why hadn't he made it the centerpiece of one of the numerous, widely covered speeches he's given in the last few years?

But the bigger mystery is this: Did Gore really think his comments were beneficial to the United States of America? Was he putting the interests of his country first? Did he believe making an exaggerated claim of U.S. abuse of Muslims and then apologizing for it on Middle Eastern soil would somehow help build goodwill for the United States in the Islamic world?

Jack Kelly speculates on a few answers in his column today on RCP:

One wonders what possessed the former vice president to say what he said where he said it. Perhaps he is so embittered by his narrow 2000 loss that he doesn't mind saying things helpful to America's enemies if they might be hurtful to George W. Bush. Perhaps he is desperate for money and will say whatever his paymasters want to hear in the hopes of garnering future invitations. And maybe he just isn't all that bright.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal calls Gore's remarks "bizarre" and wonders what in the world he was thinking:

In an Arab world where torture, beheadings and the cutting off of hands are considered normal sanctions not just for real felonies but also for "heresy" and other thought crimes, what on earth must Mr. Gore's listeners have imagined he meant by "terrible abuses"? What must an audience familiar with prison conditions in Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia picture when Mr. Gore speaks of "unforgivable" conditions?

One doubts they were picturing a warm dry cot, indoor plumbing and three square meals a day while an illegal immigrant who had knowingly outstayed his visa waited for a scheduled court hearing.

In the excess of caution following Sept. 11, were a few American residents of Arab extraction interrogated or even picked up and held incommunicado? Yes. Is it acceptable to criticize such abuses? Of course. Go to it.

But Al Gore clearly has a problem. The son of a famous father, Mr. Gore is "deeply insecure about his ability, stature and credentials," political consultant Dick Morris wrote in the New York Post during the 2000 campaign, in an essay headlined "Why Gore lies."

"He feels that he needs to go the extra mile to burnish his image even if he has to make things up," wrote Mr. Morris -- himself no paragon of rectitude, let us hasten to add.

But perhaps it takes one to know one.

Those in foreign lands may not realize Al Gore is merely one of our more excitable peddlers of tall tales. (Remember how he invented the Internet?) What on earth might happen if they believe him?

Thank goodness no one ever placed this man in a position where the fate of nations might have hung on his word.

Oh, wait ...

Here we are almost a week later, and whole forests have been consumed to assuage the outrage and the bruised egos of a Washington press corps upset over not being immediately notified of the Cheney accident. That same press corps, however, can't be bothered by Gore's remarks which, quite frankly, have more consequence and did more damage to America's reputation than Cheney's birdshot did to poor Harry Whittington.