The Politics Junkie

TIME.com's Frank Pellegrini logs on in the wee small hours to survey politics in the papers

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Bounce is a little flat Friday as only USAT and WP spin Gore story. In an exclusive "Gore On Gore" interview, USAT gets veep to promise "fresh start" and "new guard." Sure that was on the record? WP leads with Life of Al again, this one a look back at how Gore fell in with a certain young Arkansas governor in 1992. NYT can't resist Reform party antics: "split today into separate conventions that will each produce a nominee claiming to be the party's true presidential candidate and the rightful recipient of $12.6 million in federal campaign money." And WSJ tweaks the veep with "Don't Tell Gore Camp, But Terns Eat Salmon." 'Tis an environmental puzzlement.

Sidekicks

NYT knows what week this is, seconding with Gore's 1976 run in Daddy's footsteps. "And from his earliest days on the stump, he showed both the best and the worst of himself as a candidate. In 1976, he won because he outworked the competition and had his facts down cold. Yet in the process he also turned off even some old friends by presenting himself as more conservative than he was. He cut his shoulder-length hair, moved to the right on gun control and called homosexuality "abnormal." Shocking! Shoulder-length hair?

WP goes with Clinton's latest — and probably last — apology for that whole sex scandal thing in front of some evangelicals in Illinois: "The remarkable event seemed to be a mix of spontaneous reflection and purposeful message-sending." Clinton asked that Gore not be blamed, which is different than what he'll say about it Monday night in L.A., which is nothing at all.

USAT, with no weekend section, beats the drum again with a profile of Gore, which has some realistic notes: "Yet the picture is complicated. His 24-year public life has been a jumble of conflicting images. He can be as charming as Bill Clinton and as annoying as a teacher's pet." And a young madcap. Sort of. You'll see.

WSJ gets real-time with an account of Gore-Lieberman's foray into "the heart of Bush country," the South. Duly noted: "In particular, it will be important for the Gore campaign to sell the Lieberman choice to the region's large and solidly Democratic black voting bloc. That is a particularly important task given a history of some black-Jewish tensions in recent years." Sounds like a job for Bill Clinton.

Al Gore Is a Little Strange

"And after less than a minute, he hung up and told his wife, Tipper, 'I think I'm going to run.' Then, as they both have described the scene, he dropped to the floor and started doing pushups, to keep from drowning in adrenaline." NYT, on Gore's decision to run in '76.

"Gore went to the first Beatles concert in the USA and threw jelly beans at Ringo's drum set. One spring break, he and several classmates took a freewheeling car trip across the South. He nicknamed himself Al Gorf." USAT, on Gore's "wild" years.

"In a yearbook that teased all 51 seniors, the caption below Gore's picture was an Anatole France line: 'People who have no weaknesses are terrible.' The page featured a cartoon of him on a pedestal. He drew it himself. USAT, on Gore's St. Alban's days.

"It was 1965. John Tyson had been on the Harvard campus for about 18 hours when there was a knock at the door. 'This guy said, "Hello, I'm Al Gore, and I'm running for the freshman council representative from the North Yard."'" USAT, on Gore's Harvard days.

Why Al Gore Is Vice President Right Now

"Then he pulled out his prepared text and read it word for word, obliterating his well-crafted phrases about what he called 'the Republican Syndrome' of pessimism with a deadly dull rote delivery that left members of the audience wishing they were lost on a morning jog instead of trapped in the hall listening to him. The most emotion he elicited was from his press secretary, who took to the privacy of her room and cried at the thought of her boss's uninspired performance." WP, on Gore's '91 choke as a highly touted closer at a DLC event.

Warren Christopher Is a Smart Man

"On the negative side, aside from the 'obvious drawback' of not offering regional balance, it was said that Gore 'could be difficult at times,' noting the number of staff members who quit after the 1988 campaign; that he 'can at times display a wooden personality'; that it was 'unclear whether Gore has the personality to be a deferential partner'; and that he still seemed 'vulnerable to criticism' of his 1988 campaign, especially charges of 'political opportunism.'" WP, on '92 Gore vetting memo.

News to Us

"Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush has surrounded himself with his father's foreign policy gurus. But this is not his father's foreign policy." WP lede

Right You Are

"We don't think our message really got out in Philadelphia... We keep getting marginalized as a ragtag bunch of anarchists or lunatics." —Han Shan, organizer for the Berkeley-based Ruckus Society. (WP)

No Wonder There Are Two Of Them Now

"When I came into this party, it did not exist in most of the states of the union, or it was in utter disrepair... All these folks who are saying we are hijacking the party, if we weren't in this party giving it our heart and soul and energy and fire and work, this party would not exist today as a national party." —Pat Buchanan (WP)

"What we have witnessed over the last five or six months is a candidate who came to conquer the Reform party, and displace its internal leadership with their campaign's leadership... predatory tactics that were like inviting someone to dinner and before dessert is served, they are throwing the host out of his own home." —Russell Verney, head Perotista and founding chairman of the Reform Party. (WP)