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Gore pens blistering critique of Bush

Urges Democrats to stay on message against 'powerful'

Al Gore's broadside echoed the populist theme of his 2000 campaign.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore is accusing President Bush of serving "powerful interests" rather than the American people and urging Democrats to use that argument against Republicans in upcoming elections.

In a blistering critique published in Sunday's edition of The New York Times, Gore also said the recent wave of corporate scandals has put at risk "nothing less than the future of democratic capitalism."

"Uncommon power has combined with uncommon greed to create immense deceptions and losses," wrote Gore, Bush's opponent in the 2000 presidential race. "... A major correction is needed in the course of our nation. It is needed first and foremost in the composition of the next Congress."

Some of the questionable corporate accounting practices at Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and other firms -- at the center of a number of criminal investigations as well as the national political debate -- took place during the Clinton and Bush adminstrations.

Gore hasn't said whether he plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. But his broadside echoed the rhetoric of his 2000 campaign, calling on Democrats to put "the struggle between the people and the powerful" at the heart of their message for November's midterm elections.

Gore also criticized fellow Democrats who have suggested that delivering such a message during the 2000 campaign hurt the party by giving it an anti-business image.

"The suggestion from some in our party that we should no longer speak that truth, especially at a time like this, strikes me as bad politics and wrong in principle," Gore wrote. "This struggle between the people and the powerful was at the heart of every major domestic issue of the 2000 campaign and is still the central dynamic of politics in 2002."

"A major correction is needed in the course of our nation. It is needed first and foremost in the composition of the next Congress."
— Al Gore

In his opinion piece, Gore said Bush engaged in "pre-Enron accounting" in pushing for his $1.6 trillion tax cut, accusing the administration of "manipulating the numbers to make it appear that the budget surplus would be preserved."

"For them, incredibly, it is also post-Enron accounting. And the result is the replacement in one year of a surplus with another massive deficit," Gore wrote.

The White House dismissed Gore's criticism.

"The president is focused on uniting the people and not dividing them, and the American people appreciate that," deputy press secretary Claire Buchan said Sunday.

"Clearly the Democratic primaries have started early, and there appears to be a division within the party over class warfare," Buchan added.

The Bush administration has blamed the cost of the war on terrorism and reduced tax revenues due to the economic downturn for the recent red ink.

Gore also criticized the president for not supporting a "real" patients' bill of rights and a "genuine" prescription drug benefit for senior citizens, calling the prescription measure put forward by Republicans "a token plan designed to trick the voters and satisfy pharmaceutical companies."

And he hit the administration's energy plan, particularly its opposition to the Kyoto global warming treaty -- which Gore helped negotiate -- and support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"The choice was, and still is, an environmental policy based on conservation, new technologies, alternative fuels and the protection of natural wonders like the Alaskan wilderness -- or walking away from the grave challenge of global warming, doing away with Superfund clean-ups and giving in on issue after issue to those who profit from pollution," Gore wrote.

He added, "If President Bush wants to pursue honesty and integrity in the White House, he should make public the names of the energy company lobbyists who advised him on energy and environmental legislation, and he should call for the release of the Securities and Exchange Commission files on the controversy surrounding his role in certain stock transactions."

The SEC investigated Bush's sale of stock in Harken Energy Corp. in the early 1990s when he sat on the company's board and took no action against him. Democrats have been calling on Bush to ask the SEC to release all documents related to that investigation.




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