In her February 28 column, titled "Ozone Man Sequel" (subscription required), New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd described former Vice President Al Gore as the "man who was prescient on climate change, the Internet, terrorism and Iraq," and wrote that "[i]t must be excruciating not only to lose a presidency you've won because the Supreme Court turned partisan and stopped the vote, but to then watch the madness of King George and Tricky Dick II as they misled their way into serial catastrophes." Dowd wondered who Gore must blame more for his defeat in the 2000 election: "Does he blame himself? Does he blame the voting machines? Ralph Nader? Robert Shrum? Naomi Wolf? How about Bush Inc. and Clinton Inc.?" Yet, as blogger Bob Somerby noted, Dowd omitted an obvious other potential target of blame: the media. Indeed, Dowd herself, while now praising Gore for being "prescient" on such issues, relentlessly mocked Gore during his 2000 presidential campaign and onward for what she described as Gore's "obsessions about global warming and the information highway." Dowd has also compared Gore to the "wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party" for his criticism of the Iraq war; and has repeatedly furthered numerous falsehoods about Gore, such as that Gore once claimed to have "invented the Internet;" and, as Somerby noted on his Daily Howler weblog, that feminist author Wolf advised Gore on his wardrobe and how to be an "alpha male."
Dowd has repeatedly belittled Gore's focus on environmental issues, and previously referred to Gore as "Ozone Man," a slur originated by former President George H.W. Bush during the 1992 presidential campaign. For instance:
- After President George W. Bush's April 2006 push to promote renewable energy, Dowd stated that Bush had made a "concession speech to Al Gore" but then added: "[T]he president sounded a bit like a wild-eyed Ozone Man himself yesterday, extolling the virtues of alternative fuel derived from cooking grease, sugar, grass, wood chips, soybean oil and corn." (4/26/06)
- After attending the February 2002 World Economic Forum, Dowd wrote that her "whole body hurt" from the "chat about coalitions, commonalities and global climate crises." Dowd continued: "The confab -- overrun with charts, hand-held computers and technobabble -- was starting to feel like an evening with ... Al Gore." (2/3/02)
- In a 2001 column, Dowd described Gore as "the champion of Kyoto and author of a chicken-little polemic warning of 'an ecological Kristallnacht' and 'wasteland.'" (8/5/01)
- While complaining that the Bush administration has "reeled" the country "backwards so fast," Dowd acknowledged that she "used to think" Gore was "striving too geekily to be Millennial Man. The Palm Pilot on your belt. The Blackberry. The Earth-cam you dreamed of. Citing 'Futurama' as your favorite show. The obsessions about global warming and the information highway. Boldly choosing the first Jewish running mate. But now I'm going hungry for a shred of modernity." (6/1/01)
- While discussing Gore's consideration of installing a webcam in the Oval Office, should he become president, Dowd asserted: "I have zero desire to see President Gore round the clock, putting comely interns to sleep with charts and lectures on gaseous reduction." (10/19/00)
- In 1999, Dowd claimed that "Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct, he's practically lactating." (6/16/99)
Dowd has also previously suggested Gore was part of the "wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party" for criticizing the handling of the Iraq War. Referring to Gore as "the shadow president," in her May 27, 2004 column, Dowd stated that an "outraged" Gore "called yesterday for the immediate resignations of [then-Defense secretary] Donald Rumsfeld, [then-deputy defense secretary] Paul Wolfowitz, [then-CIA director] George Tenet, [then-national security adviser] Condoleezza Rice, [then-undersecretary of defense for policy] Douglas Feith and [then-undersecretary of defense for intelligence] Stephen Cambone." Dowd continued:
Thundering at New York University about the man the Supreme Court chose over him, Al Gore said, ''He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation." Holy Nixon!
[Sen.] John Kerry's [D-MA] advisers were surprised and annoyed to hear that Mr. Gore hollered so much, he made Howard Dean look like George Pataki. They don't want voters to be reminded of the wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party.
Throughout much of 1999, Dowd promoted the falsehoods that Gore once claimed to have invented the Internet by repeatedly referring to him as "the Father of the Internet." Notably, on March 24, 1999, Dowd wrote that Gore had "drawn ridicule by boasting that he was the father of the Internet." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, Gore did not say he "invented" the Internet. In the March 9, 1999, interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that gave rise to the myth, Gore actually said: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." Despite this, Dowd has mockingly referred to Gore as "the Father of the Internet" at least three different times in 1999.*
In her column, Dowd wondered whether Gore blamed Naomi Wolf for his 2000 presidential loss. As Daily Howler editor Somerby noted, "More likely, he blames the people who made a smutty joke out of Wolf in an astounding month-long display." Indeed, Dowd repeatedly furthered discredited claims that Wolf advised Gore to wear "earth tones" and "coach[ed]" Gore on how to be an "alpha-male," even after Wolf denied the stories in a November 5, 1999 interview with the New York Times. For instance:
- Writing about a family trip Gore took to Europe in 2001, Dowd asserted that Gore had "escape[d] from his alpha-male coach" to "go off on a trek to Europe and grow a goofy-looking beard. Dowd continued, "[w]ith his Hemingway growth and Heineken girth, all Mr. Gore needs is a pack of Gitanes and an earth-tone beret;" and concluded, "[a]fter a lifetime in politics and eight years in the West Wing, the vice president spent the campaign trying to find himself and fine-tune his wardrobe's palette." (8/5/01)
- In October 2000, Dowd wrote about how then-presidential candidate Bush was "still milking the flap over Naomi Wolf's alpha-male advice to Mr. Gore, the spectacle of a woman instructing a man how to be a man." (10/25/00)
- Dowd also penned a column as though it were written by Gore, who said of himself: "Alpha Al, you the man. You got your mojo. You are looking goooood!" (8/23/00)
- Again writing as though she were Gore, Dowd wrote that "Day Two" of the 2000 Democratic National Convention would feature "Tipper play[ing] the drums, accompanied by Karenna and Naomi Wolf, in an all-girl band salute to me." (7/12/00)
- Dowd also stated that during the 2000 campaign, "[t]he Democrats yearn to be manly" and referenced Gore's "alpha coaching." (7/9/00)
- In an October 1999 column Dowd wrote of an apparent exchange between Gore and herself about Gore's "new color palette." Dowd wrote: "He's in his casual uniform, a blue shirt to bring out his eyes, a heathery brown sweater, khakis and black cowboy boots. 'Tipper picks out my clothes,' he says quickly, before I have a chance to mention That Woman Naomi. Don't his beta earth tones undercut his alpha message?" (10/10/99)
From Dowd's February 28 New York Times column:
The man who was prescient on climate change, the Internet, terrorism and Iraq admitted that maybe his problem had been that he was too far ahead of the curve. He realized at a conference that "there're ideas that are mature, ideas that are maturing, ideas that are past their prime ... and a category called "predawn."
But what's going on in his head? Like Jeb Bush, Al Gore was the good son groomed by a famous pol to be president, only to have it snatched away by a black sheep who didn't even know the name of the general running Pakistan (the same one he just sent Vice to try to push into line.) It must be excruciating not only to lose a presidency you've won because the Supreme Court turned partisan and stopped the vote, but to then watch the madness of King George and Tricky Dick II as they misled their way into serial catastrophes.
Surely the Goracle, an aficionado of futurism, must stew about all the time and money and good will that has been wasted with a Vietnam replay and a scolding social policy designed to expunge the Age of Aquarius.
When he's finished Web surfing, tweaking his PowerPoint and BlackBerrying, what goes through his head? Does he blame himself? Does he blame the voting machines? Ralph Nader? Robert Shrum? Naomi Wolf? How about Bush Inc. and Clinton Inc.?
With the red carpet rolled up, the tux at the cleaner's, and the gold statuette on the director's mantle, not his, the Goracle is at his Nashville mansion, contemplating how to broker his next deal. Will he cast himself as the savior of the post-Bush era, or will the first Gore in the Oval Office be Karenna, mother of Oscar?
*A Nexis search of The New York Times and terms "BYLINE (Maureen w/5 Dowd) and Father of the Internet" yielded these results.