Here Comes Seminole County

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Judge Nikki Clark hears motions for the Seminole County absentee ballot trial

Al Gore, he of the "count all the votes" mantra, never used to talk about Seminole County. He wouldn't let David Boies join the case, fearing a p.r. sinkhole in advocating the disqualification of 15,000 absentee ballots from the county (handing him 5,000 net votes), and he'd much prefer to win on untallied votes in Miami-Dade instead of tallied ones in Seminole. Or Martin.

But it'll do. Tuesday, as Circuit Court Judge Nikki Ann Clark began a preliminary hearing in advance of her expected trial Wednesday, Gore got a question about the new Tallahassee time bomb — and gave it a big hug.

"There were more than enough votes to make the difference... that were thrown into the trash can," Gore said, because Democrats had not gotten the same chance to fill in missing information on ballot applications as Republicans had. "Again, I'm not a party to it, but I've been reading about it" Gore said, after musing for a good five minutes on the case. "It doesn't seem fair to me."

No concessions from Bush camp

Bush's lawyers, still floating on the air of Sanders Sauls' decision, don't like to talk about Black Wednesday. "I don't think there is any legal substance to their case at all," said Barry Richard on Tuesday before heading into Clark's courtroom. "It is much ado about nothing," added George Terwilliger. "It was an inconsequential mistake that made no difference."

But what the Bush camp calls a "hypertechnicality" could make a very big difference if Clark rules for the Democrat bringing the suit (he's a self-proclaimed concerned citizen who spent $50,000 on anti-Cheney ads in Florida this year). And the Bush lawyers are clearly not taking anything for granted when it comes to their legal options.

They tried to include Seminole in the Sauls case, and were turned down. They demanded Clark recuse herself (she was passed over for a promotion by Jeb Bush) and were turned down. Tuesday, they were asking that the case be tried before a jury — no word on that yet — and finally that it be dismissed.

... Till it's over

However Clark rules, the case seems destined for higher ground, and Gore is trying to tell us to take it seriously. Because if a mass ballot-burning is the veep's only way into the White House, he's not going to say no until his "final arbiter" does.

"I do think it is likely that all of the current controversies will wind up being settled one way or another on the Florida Supreme Court," Gore said.

No word yet whether Yogi Berra will be called in to argue Gore's case.