Rep. Samuel Gejdenson, top Democrat on the House International Relations committee, fumes that the Republican-only exercise "is a completely partisan hatchet job." And even moderate Republicans from the International Relations Çommittee say they were kept at arm's length because the report's authors, under the leadership of California representative Christopher Cox, "get nervous when you try to inject some truth into the proceedings." Gore's foreign policy advisor, Leon Fuerth, declined to speak with TIME about the report, his staff complaining they had no access to it.
They didn't miss much. The document suffers from incomplete source materials presented with evident bias. It blames the administration for souring U.S.-Russian relations by pursuing NATO expansion and National Missile Defense, both of which Republicans support even more fervently than Democrats. It repeatedly mentions Russia's objections to unilateral U.S. action but then criticizes the administration for pursuing consensus-building with Moscow and others. Those contradictions, combined with breathless, vituperative language, obscure valid points, like the administration's studious disregard for Russian atrocities in Chechnya and its failure to achieve any new arms control agreements with the Russians over eight years.
So, what of politics stopping at the water's edge? Cox shrugs off charges the report is partisan "Of course it is!" he crows. But reports like this one are more likely to damage their authors' reputations than the electoral chances of their intended targets.