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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

August 8, 2002

Al Gore's Stupid Op-Ed

When I read the first sentence from Al Gore's stupid op-ed in Sunday's New York Times, I had no clue what he was saying. Here's the sentence, for those who missed it: "There has always been a debate over the destiny of this nation between those who believed they were entitled to govern because of their station in life, and those who believed that the people were sovereign." 

Who is he talking about? Maybe I'm not as smart as the man who flunked out of law school and divinity school, didn't recognize busts of the founding fathers in 1992, and once referred to "extra-chromosome" Republicans, but I'm aware of no such debate. The framers created a Constitution that made it clear who was sovereign - the people. Does this imaginary debate go that far back?

Maybe he's referring to that Democrat god Franklin D. Roosevelt, who apparently felt he didn't deserve to be president because of his wealth and power by running for president four times. But FDR could do no wrong, so that's not it.

I then thought that he was referring to himself. After all, Gore's daddy was an influential and powerful U.S. Senator who groomed little Al for the presidency since the boy popped from his mother's womb. Little Al grew up in the posh Watergate hotel, attended all the posh schools, ran for president twice (in 1988 and 2000). 

This sounds implausible, but think about it. Gore's reinvented himself so many times, maybe he's confused himself. Maybe he's developed a split personality, an alter-Gore who is bad and must be contained. Maybe Gore was subconsciously referring to his alter-Gore. There is evidence for this. Remember a month or so ago, Al Gore complained that during the 2000 campaign he let his advisers influence him too much, he was too scripted and didn't speak from the heart? He said that now he was going to "let 'er rip," pull no punches, hold nothing back, blah blah blah. He said the exact same thing in 2000, when he opened his campaign headquarters in Nashville. He obviously didn't remember that because his alter-Gore said it. 

But that theory fell apart when I read James Bowman's take on Gore's stupid op-ed. According to Bowman, Gore was referring to President Dubya as one who believes he deserves to be president because of his "station in life." It's Gore himself who believes "the people are sovereign." As Bowman points out, Gore won the popular vote, the pure expression of the sovereign people, and Dubya won the Electoral College, that evil and archaic tool established by those aristocratic dead white men who wrote the Constitution. But Gore can't come out and say that, because it would like "sour grapes." So instead he invents (and we all know Gore is very good at inventing) a supposed debate to make his point in an obscure, roundabout way. 

I think Bowman is right. Gore can't get over 2000. He can't get over that he lost Florida. He can't believe that though more people voted for him, it's Dubya, son of the elder Bush, and not him parking it in the Oval Office. That's why Gore is going to run again in 2004, and it's also why he defended his stupid "people versus the powerful" campaign theme in his stupid op-ed. He can't let go. He can't move on. And, lucky us, we're all going to hear about for the next two years, because this won't be Gore's last stupid op-ed. 

Valinda Jo Elliot's stupid letter

The woman who started the Chediski fire in Arizona that destroyed dozens of homes wrote a stupid letter to the Arizona Republic, which printed it Sunday (a lot of stupidity in the Sunday papers).

The letter is badly written and barely coherent. For example, "And I keep asking myself, what the hell did I do wrong? I admit I lit that signal fire, but are you people blind? I didn't light the 'Chediski' fire..." The reasoning is tortuous, but I'll try to translate. You see, she set a signal fire to save her lost self, but not the Chediski fire. She ignores the fact that her signal fire became the Chediski fire.

But that wasn't her fault. I'll let her explain. "The older gentleman [who?]kept saying it doesn't look like it's going anywhere, and there is someone on the way to take care of it, and also a DPS helicopter to help look for my boss [her boss was also lost]. How about Channel 5, which called it in to six different authorities? They left some of their equipment to make room in the helicopter. So when they dropped me off at the hospital, they went back for their equipment [that's real gratitude, isn't it? A TV chopper saves her worthless hide, and she turns around and blames its crew for the fire!]. When did someone finally show up out there? Did they call it in again when they went back the second time? Or the two forest rangers whom I gave a statement to at the hospital at about 8 a.m. - they also knew of the smoke-signal fire. You know I have been beating myself up inside and blaming myself - for what?" 

In other words, it's everyone else's fault, not Valinda Jo's. Poor Valinda Jo was just trying to save her life. Why couldn't all these people have trampled out the fire? Her ignorance is astonishing. It's like she expected an entire crew to transport right to her little fire. Things don't happen like, Valinda Jo. It takes time to find the location, estimate the fire's size, contact crews, organize crews, organize transportation to the fire, and then more time to get the crews to the fire. The fire's out of control before any of that happens.

I'm sorry, Valinda Jo, but you can't expect others to make up for your own stupid action. I don't blame you for setting a signal fire - starting a fire is legitimate when you're lost. But  there are ways to set up a signal fire that prevents thousands of acres from getting torched. You dig a hole, you fill it with dead wood and kindling, you clear the surrounding area of brush, you light the fire and watch for any blowing embers. You don't light up any old shrub and sit back and watch as the fire spreads to other shrubs and trees. That's just stupid, and in my opinion, criminally negligent (unfortunately, the state prosecutor declined to press charges, though the White Mountain Apache tribe, much of whose land Valinda Jo destroyed, may sue for damages). I realize you didn't intend to start a huge fire. But your negligent actions caused a huge forest fire. That's the bottom line, and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Valinda Jo closes her stupid letter with this stupid paragraph: "If there is one of you who will stand in front of me and God and say you would not have done the same thing - being told someone was on their way to take care of it. As God is my witness (as my sister said very well), may God have mercy on your lying souls."

Ignore the crappy writing (it's hard, I know). She expects that we all would have done something as stupid as what she did.

That's just stupid.

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