Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sleaze and Gore

This past week, I noticed on my Facebook page that the Reverend Chuck Currie has posted on his blog a defense of Al Gore regarding a front-page story in this week's National Enquirer, in which a Massage Therapist (LMT) is claiming that she was "sexually assaulted" by the former Vice President in his hotel room the night of his "Inconvenient Truth" presentation at the Rose Garden Arena on October 24, 2006 in Portland, Oregon. The Reverend wrote that Gore deserves the benefit of a doubt, because the allegations present a man that does not reflect what is known about Gore. Additionally, the woman did not come forward with what happened that night until several months later. In fact, a police report was only filed in January 2009...more than two years after the fact! Even more baffling, the woman said she did not want to pursue criminal charges (sexual assault is a FELONY). Instead, she wanted to pursue civil litigation. It appears that its all about the benjamins!

Normally, I ignore the outrageous stories on this tabloid (after all, they have claimed so many times that Elvis is alive, alien babies are real, and that Bush was having an affair with Condoleezza Rice, which I find unbelievable), but the following day, The Oregonian made this "breaking" news FRONT PAGE HEADLINES! Yikes. June has not been a good month for the Gore family. It makes one wonder if someone has ulterior motives to destroy a man's reputation when speculation about "the real reason" for his divorce has been nonstop since the announcement on June 1st. I've read that ever since An Inconvenient Truth has played in theaters four summers ago, the number of people who believe that climate change or global warming is reality has actually dropped. This is surprising, considering how wacky the weather seems to be in the past few years (record snowfalls, record heatwaves, tornados appearing in unlikely places, major flooding, and most alarming of all...a dramatic increase in major earthquake activity. We're just into hurricane season, as well, so it will be interesting to see how many the season will bring). With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico heading into more than 60 days, its only natural to wonder is someone has an interest in ruining Gore's reputation.

Out of curiosity, I read the 73 page police report of the massage therapist's conversation with an investigator about the night in question. There are so many strange things about what she says that it sounds pretty outrageous and cartoonish. The fact that she didn't present her story of what happened that night until more than two years after the fact could possibly mean that she spent that time thinking up the entire scenario of what happened and rehearsed it so it would be consistent no matter how many times she's interviewed or questioned. Especially troubling is that she did not want criminal charges to be pursued, but rather a lawsuit. Gore is a wealthy man and in these troubled economic times, massage therapists might have seen the number of clients drop as people cut out unnecessary expenses. The price she charged VIPs is more than $500! Of course, people who can pay that much for a massage probably don't make budget cuts in economic crisis.

This is a classic "he said / she said" situation in which there are no winners. The only people who know what really happened are the two who were involved. The rest of us are left to take sides based on who we find more credible. On one hand, there are allegations that reveal a man who is far different in private than what his public image has presented for most of his adult life. The man this woman presents is so radically different from the Gore we know that its quite easy to believe that she's making things up for ulterior motives of making millions. If she is speaking the truth, though, a major crime took place. Sexual assault is a FELONY. Whatever the truth, this story is disturbing on so many levels.

I asked a lady I know who is a private investigator what she thought of this case. She said that she had read the police report when it was first released (more than a year and a half ago) and she doesn't find the massage therapist credible. This lady's job is investigating crimes for the district attorney's office, so she has experience in deciphering a person's credibility. When I read the police report (which reminded me of the Ken Starr Report for its graphic description of attempted sex acts), I found it hard to believe that the lady was trembling in fear in the presence of Gore. She seemed to believe that she was going to get raped by him. It started when she showed up to give him a massage and he insisted that he wanted it in the bedroom portion of his hotel suite (at the Hotel Lucia in downtown Portland). She, instead, set up her massage table in the living room portion of the suite. She became alarmed when Gore supposedly requested a massage on his abdominal muscles and his adductors (the thigh area), as she clearly saw these requests as being out of the norm. When Gore supposedly grabbed her hand and put it on his private area, that's when the massage therapist became afraid that she would be raped.

She tried a relaxing technique that made her think that he fell asleep. As she was putting up her things to get ready to leave, Gore supposedly wrapped her in a tight embrace and started fondling her and French kissing her. This is where her allegations get truly comical: she claimed that she managed to distract him for a bit by pointing out a box of Moonstruck chocolates on a table. He went over to eat one and offered her some. When her testimony mentions "later", something does not add up. She claims that Gore had gone into the bedroom portion and started playing Pink!'s "Dear Mr. President" on his iPod, inviting her to come over to the bed. She complied. Seriously...if she was fearful that she was going to be raped and managed to distract Gore with some chocolates to escape his embrace, why would she "later" be lulled into the bedroom portion? That's when Gore supposedly pushed her down on the bed and got on top of her. Again, quite comically, she yelled at him: "Get off of me, you big lummox!"

What the hell is a "lummox"? And who uses words like that? She also called him a "crazed sex poodle." The woman sounds pretty bizarre. The fact that she's in her 50s and not married or in a relationship made me wonder if she's slightly neurotic. Perhaps she went to the room in hopes that Gore would be attracted to her and when he wasn't, she made up a fantastic story about what she wished happened that night. Who knows? It seems odd to me that a middle aged man would request a massage therapist close to his age if he had wanted to have a sexual encounter. Logic and statistics seem to indicate that a woman in her 20s or early 30s would be requested. Reading the police report, the impression I get of the woman is someone who is mentally unstable and highly neurotic. Using words like "lummox" and "crazed sex poodle" just doesn't seem like words and terms any normal person would use. Even more outlandish, all it took was pointing out a box of chocolates to cause Gore to let go of her after he supposedly fondled and frenched her, yet she still remained in the hotel suite, fearful that she was going to be raped instead of running out of there.

If this is a false accusation leveled at an honourable man, this woman is despicable and the lowest of pond scum. I've always been one who believes that it is far better for a guilty person to go free than for one innocent person to go to jail. The thing about allegations is that anyone could say anything about anyone. There's a quote that says a lie can get around the world before the truth even wakes up in the morning. Character assassination is worse than the actual violent one, because the violent one tends to make the victim into a martyr whose popularity gains in stature. Character assassinations destroy a person's reputation, while the person has to live with it for the rest of his or her life. The stain can never be fully erased from people's minds, even if fully exonerated. People will always wonder if the allegations are true. Look at me, for example. I'm a big time admirer of Al Gore. He is the politician I have admired the most since the early 1990s, yet these allegations are so disturbing, a part of me wonders if its true, even if I don't quite believe the lady's version of events.

The novel I wrote and am still seeking an agent for is about this topic: how false accusations can destroy a person's career and reputation, and why its better to allow someone the benefit of a doubt if you're not 100% certain that he is who the accuser says he is. I personally believe that people who level false accusations against innocent people are far worse than murderers because they are killing a person's reputation while allowing the person to live in the aftermath of a devastating blow. The allegations cause a lot of pain for the accused and their family, friends, and supporters. If this lady is lying about the events of that night, her reputation needs to be tarnished and she deserves to lose her license to practice massage therapy. Someone should investigate if she has received any large sums of money from anyone or even attempted to blackmail Gore. She's already shown an interest in wanting to financially benefit from the allegations, rather than see justice done. Perhaps the reason why she did not want to pursue criminal charges is because she knows that her allegations wouldn't stand up in court.

Having said that, though, I feel that it is important what this says about Gore if the allegations are true. I recently saw a documentary video called "The Shadow Effect", which talks about the shadow sides of our personality and how we need to acknowledge it rather than ignore it. Ignoring it only makes the shadow persona grow until one gets reckless and gets set up for what is called an "ego fall." This has happened recently with Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and Jesse James (the man who humiliated his wife Sandra Bullock). Gore has always had a reputation for being a faithful husband and family man. There have been reports of women swooning in his presence, but he never seemed to notice them. In his long public service career, there have not been any rumours of infidelity. When his boss, President Bill Clinton, was caught in the huge sex scandal involving a sex-crazed intern, Gore tried to balance his loyal nature with his political ambition to be the next president. He expressed his disappointment in Clinton's behaviour.

It is hard to understand what might be going through a man's head who won the popular vote in 2000 and saw his lifelong dream to become president dashed by Republican shenanigans in Florida. Perhaps the darkness that followed put Gore on the path of "the dark side". What comes to mind is the scenario in Superman III, where Superman is given a kryptonite that is mixed with tar from cigarettes, which does not kill him but only brings out his inner bad boy. I've read that it takes someone with an enormous ego to run for president, so this is why we often see powerful men with uncontrollable sexual appetites run for that office (or any major political office). Why would Gore be any different? He's clearly in what is a danger zone for most men: the mid-life crisis, brought on by the fear of mortality and the need to recapture something lost in one's youth or young adulthood. Perhaps, in the aftermath of the 2000 election disaster, we have created a "monster." Gore became rich through his early investments in Google, Apple, and other Internet companies. When he finally received praise for his documentary, including an Oscar and the coveted Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps this fed his ego to the point where he lost connection to his soul / spirit. Men who fall tend to say the exact same thing: "I thought the rules no longer applied to me." Clinton, Gingrich, Spitzer, and Edwards had all said similar things in describing their public falls from grace.

If these allegations are true, then it is clear that Gore's ego has emerged as an ugly thing, indeed. A true monster, seeming to act out the worst of the Clinton scandal with Monica Lewinsky (the massage therapist even claims to have saved the clothes she wore that night, which has his bodily fluid still on there). He was apparently drinking before the massage therapist arrived for the session, and alcohol does have a way of bringing out people's shadow personality (this is why it is always interesting to see who people become when they are drunk. Are they angry, aggressive, or a blubbering lush?). Perhaps decades of suppressing dark urges emerged during this one night in Portland. He became, for a moment, Bill Clinton (who has also been accused of sexual assault, though the media never really ran with the story, though conservative groups obsessed with it during most of his presidency). Maybe he had some twisted fantasy to act out Clinton's scandal?

Its interesting that this event supposedly occurred after his presentation on climate change. I was at that event and loved it. It was pretty loyal to the documentary, but included some more info that is not on the DVD, as well as a question and answer session. After the event, a few people swarmed to the front in hopes of getting to meet Gore. I spent too much time deliberating that by the time I made it to the front area, Gore had decided to leave. I would have loved to talk to him, personally. I had even made a request a few days earlier to his staff assistant in Nashville (I had the name of a contact in Gore's office ever since I sent Gore my resume in the spring of 2006 to work at his Nashville office), but was told that he was on a tight schedule and wouldn't have time to meet with anyone. Hmmm...except a massage therapist at 11 p.m. that night!

If I could meet Gore and talk with him, this is what I would say:

Mr. Gore, you are a big reason why I decided to major in international politics in the first place. I was impressed with your book Earth in the Balance and when Clinton picked you as a running mate, he won my vote with that decision. Ever since you guys won the 1992 election, I knew that I wanted to work in your administration someday. That meant getting out of the Navy in 1996 and starting college so I could graduate in 2000 and work on your campaign with the hope of making you president so I could work as a loyal political aide in your administration.

My life has not gone well since 2000. I've been in three crappy, low wage jobs that are not what I was meant to do in life. I know that's not your fault. I believed in you as a visionary politician who would make a positive contribution to society. Had it not been for you as the Vice President or of you guys winning the 1992 election, I might have pursued a screenwriting career in Los Angeles or majored in something else, like psychology to be a counselor or something. Why did I ever allow my admiration for you lead me into a fruitless search for a political job this entire decade? Perhaps this is a sign that I have done nothing but wasted my time in an unsuccessful search. Maybe politicians are all alike: give them a little power and it always goes to their head.

I hope these allegations are not true. However, you should have also known better as a wealthy man who is married to not put yourself in this situation if the lady is lying. There are people out there who would stop at nothing to bring you down, by any means necessary, because your work on behalf of raising awareness for climate change is threatening to industrial interests who want to maintain politics as usual. You're not helping your cause, though, by buying mega-mansions and flying planes around the world like a global superstar. People are always going to see the hypocrisy and dismiss your message, because, hey, if you can't live the lifestyle you advocate that we all live, why should they? If you can afford a celebrity lifestyle and all its perks, why should regular people be any different?

I am disappointed, Mr. Gore. Disappointed in you, disappointed in these allegations, disappointed in your separation from Tipper, disappointed in your mega-mansion buying. Perhaps it is time for you to get in touch with your soul. Strip away the demons and shadows and get to the core of who you are. Don't allow yourself to be in compromising positions where people can make outrageous allegations against you. And if you are guilty of doing exactly what this massage therapist says, come clean. Please, for the sake of your soul. Please don't continue down the path of other politicians. Be different. Be Mandela. Just be.

Sincerely, your former intern.

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