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Gore Wows 'em in Wisconsin - Report from a Democrats.com Member
~Chip Yost

The crowd of over 2,100 delegates and guests to the Wisconsin Democratic State Convention jumped to their feet and cheered wildly. Al Gore, the national popular vote winner by more than 539,000 votes in the 2000 (s)election, stepped to the podium, smiling and waving, obviously relishing the rousing welcome.

Gore began by talking about all the changes in his life since leaving public office. "They let other cars on the road with me now," he said. "Given that I haven't driven in eight years, I don't know if it's a really good idea."

But Gore offered much more than entertainment as he began to contrast progressive principles with Mr. Bush's secretive authoritarian policies. It's obvious that his tenure as a visiting professor "or VP for short" has been good for him as he blended relaxed, folksy commentary with pointed barbs at Bush and his failed policies.

Gore said the nation's war on terrorism is "not a Republican or a Democratic fight. Bush ought to stop using the war as a political wedge," he said. "It's not the right thing to do, and it hurts the country."

"Patriotism does not mean remaining silent. We are going to be speaking up about the issues," Gore said, supporting the need for 911 investigation.

Continuing to aim squarely at Bush, Gore went issue by issue pointing out the administration's disastrous policies and corporate pandering. "A lot of our most precious values are being overturned, ignored and trashed," he warned.

Saying he and former President Clinton did a "damn good job of managing the economy," Gore added: "Do you feel better off than you were 1 1/2 years ago?"

Criticizing Bush for wasting the surplus on a tax cut that mostly helped the richest citizens, Gore continued, calling Enron-style accounting "dishonest," cautioning that it "has become the budgeting standard for the federal government," he said.

Warning that Bush's budget numbers "intentionally reduce what the liabilities are going to be," Gore predicted that it's a setup for future raids on Social Security and health-care programs.

Gore noted that the Bush administration undercuts the priniciple of open government by keeping secrets for its corporate friends. "Where have we heard about falsified accounting leading to problems in the future?" he said, referring back to Enron, formerly Bush's largest campaign contributor.

"They won't tell us what went on at the meetings with Enron and with the other energy companies because they say that would violate their privacy.

"But when it comes to giving the insurance companies your private medical information from drugstores, that's not privacy they're willing to stand up and protect," he added. "What kind of values are those?"

Noting that the Bush administration has put insurance and health-care industry executives "in charge of all the policies that are supposed to be designed to keep (costs) reasonable," Gore lampooned "that's like going out and finding the hungriest fox to watch the hen house."

"The pharmaceutical industry is now the largest contributor to the Republican Party. This bunch will not make a move on health care without asking permission, in effect. This is an issue that goes to the honesty of governance, and who you are really working for. We need people in office who are going to work for the American people, and not for powerful special interests."

Parallel special interests are at work to minimize environmental protections in the face of global warming, noted Gore, author of "Earth in the Balance." Bush, who "sneered" at a recently released report acknowledging the serious threat of global warming, has manned key environmental administration positions with former executives of the coal and other polluting industries. "They're pulling all the strings here. I don't want to hear this bunch say, 'Oh, we didn't know. We didn't have any warning. It was somewhere in the bureaucracy - somebody knew about it, but it never really got to my attention.'"

But Al Gore sure got the crowd's attention, urging them to remember "how you felt the morning after the Supreme Court decision in December," Gore said as the crowd moaned and hissed. "Take that feeling you have inside and use it." Encouraging people to be actively involved, he said "Don't wait - 2004 is a long way off. 2002 is here now."