Aintcha glad that G.W. Bush stole the presidential election in 2000? ‘Cuz if he hadn’t, we’d be stuck with the increasingly strange Al Gore at the helm of the war against terrorism. This week’s must-read is David Remnick’s profile of Weird Al in the New Yorker–and from the way Remnick describes his meal-filled day at the Nashville home of the bulked-out, sometimes hirsute, election loss-obsessed former vice president, Al Gore is one Mr. Bizarro!
As the nothing-much day rolls on in Remnick’s report, Gore stuffs himself with bacon and eggs, a lamb-chop lunch, and dinner at the cholesterol-farm chain Shoney’s, punctuating his repasts with surfing his invention, the Internet, and cracking yet more self-deprecating jokes about The Nasty Thing That Happened in Florida. Meanwhile, Tipper tries to distract her husband by showing off her collection of designer fly-swatters.
Here are some excerpts from Remnick’s article:
“At home in Nashville, the phone barely rang. There were no advance people at the door, no aides at his shoulder. He could say what he wanted and it hardly made a ripple in the media. If he felt like calling George Bush a ‘moral coward,’ if he felt like comparing Guant’namo and Abu Ghraib to islands in an ‘American gulag’ or the President’s media operatives to ‘digital Brown Shirts,’ well, he just went ahead and did it. No worries, no hesitation. True, at noon at the Belcourt Theatre [in Nashville], he was to deliver a speech to a group called the Music Row Democrats, but the only cameras were likely to be local….
“Sometimes people approach him and address him as ‘Mr. President.’ Some try to cheer him up and tell him, ‘We know you really won.’ Some tilt their heads, affecting a look of grave sympathy, as if he had just lost a family member. He has to face not only his own regrets; he is forever the mirror of others’. A lesser man would have done far worse than grow a beard and put on a few pounds….
“He bookmarks the Internet to some of the more expected outlets–the Times, the Washington Post, Google News–but also to left-leaning sites like mediawhoresonline.com and truthout.com.”
And here’s Remnick on Tipper’s flyswatters:
”You can catch them with your hand, Al, but check these out.”
Meanwhile, one of Gore’s new pals, Robert Ellis Orrall, whom Remnick describes as “an eccentric musician and visual artist,” drops by the Gore house with his wife, Christine, to take Al and Tipper to the Belcourt for the Dem rally. Al decides to show off Orrall’s website full of paintings to Remnick:
“Gore typed in the correct URL and the right thing happened. He had not looked so delighted all day.
”Bob does these paintings about all these childhood traumas of his and then he writes about it on the canvas.’
”We were in marriage counselling,’ Christine said, ‘and then he started doing these things about childhood memories instead.’
”That must have been cheaper than therapy,’ Gore said.
”Well, we’re still married!’
“Gore swung his laptop around and started calling the paintings up on the screen and reading the captions. One of them showed a group of people gathered around a child at an amusement park. The writing on it said, ‘Don’t throw up at Disneyland. Everyone acts like you broke the law or something, and your parents try to pretend you’re someone else’s kid. Then they mark off the area like it’s a crime scene and these guys who clean it up are wearing radiation suits. I’m not kidding. Then it’s “Well I think we’ve had enough for one day,” and back to sharing a bed with your brothers at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge.’
“Gore was laughing very loudly. ‘That was traumatic, wasn’t it?’ he said. Then he started clicking again on the laptop. ‘Where’s the one where he was so fat he was hiding pencils in the rolls of his belly?”
This man was almost president of the United States?
In a final riff with Remnick, the Gores talk about how far they’ve come since the days when Gore was a moderate New Democratic senator from Tennessee and both Gores, now church dropouts, were regular worshippers:
“Tipper said with a laugh, ‘I think I follow Baba Ram Dass.’
“‘The influx of fundamentalist preachers have pretty much chased us out with their right-wing politics,’ Gore added.
“This was obviously a detail in a broadly painful subject. Tennessee, which was never particularly liberal, had rejected Al Gore in 2000, a loss that led to the loss of his dream.
“‘It makes you wonder how you ever got elected to Congress in the first place,’ I said.
“Gore didn’t deny it. ‘Sometimes I wonder that myself,’ he said.”
Tipper, hand me one of those flyswatters.