LOVE is a many splintered thing, especially for Vice President Al Gore, whose tendency to slightly overblow his achievements is threatening to puncture his presidential candidacy or at least win him the Dan Quayle Memorial Foot In The Mouth Award.
Gore's a nice guy who has done many honorable things but somehow feels the need to garnish his deeds with extra relish. Psychologists probably have a name for this kind of behavior, something like "blowhardurism" or "selfpufferosis" but if he doesn't cut it out, Gore could end up losing the Democratic nomination to a six-and-a-half foot, socialist ex-professional basketball-playing geek.
Simply being among the first congressmen to recognize the importance of the Internet and encourage its growth wasn't enough. Gore had to announce that he "invented" the darn thing, a patently ridiculous claim, especially considering 200 million Americans have never even been on the Internet and so didn't even know what he was talking about.
Gore's instincts along these lines are 180 degrees wrong. If you want people to think you're hot stuff, you play DOWN your achievements and let others fill in the blanks. Think Gary (Ah, shucks, twern't nuthin') Cooper instead of John (I'm a Green Beret, by God) Wayne.
Gore went to Vietnam for four months. As a photographer. Fine. That's more than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or even John Wayne did. But that's not enough for Gore. He has to start talking about "seeing action" in Vietnam, which he really didn't. And it turns out that because his father was a U.S. senator, someone was assigned specifically to keep him out of danger in 'Nam. So in an ill-conceived effort to puff up his war record, he went from Rambo to Shambo.
THINGS got weirder when Gore claimed to be the inspiration for the movie "Love Story." Author Erich Segal did know Gore in college but denied that Gore was the model for the movie's Ryan O'Neal character. So Gore's extra reaching turns him from a muse to a ruse.
Undeterred, Gore now has pushed the love thing even further by claiming he exposed the Love Canal environmental disaster.
In a pattern that has become frighteningly redundant, Gore attempted to wow an audience that couldn't care with a story that didn't jell.
He was talking to a group of New York high school students when he incomprehensibly stated, "I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal ... That was what started it all."
Those kids wouldn't know Love Canal from the Love Boat. They also wouldn't know -- but the press would make sure the world would -- that several months before Gore "found" Love Canal, President Carter had declared the area a disaster area, it had been evacuated and the story could be "found" on the front page of most major national newspapers.
What's scary is that there is so much more in the "love" vein Gore can mine. Will he claim that Beach Boy Mike Love is his love child? Will he say that the B-52's hit song "Love Shack" was inspired by his and Tipper's summer house on the Cape? Will he claim that while head of the Human Genome mapping project he inadvertently discovered Love Potion Number 9?
Someone needs to send the veep a short note before it's too late: "To Sir, With Love ... Stop it!"
Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
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