Related Stories

 Click here for more political coverage from TIME magazine.

Investigating the President

 Bowles Testifies Before Grand Jury (04-02-98)

 White House Supports News Media's Request (04-01-98)

 Starr Investigation Costs Just Shy of $30 Million (04-01-98)

 Landow Not A Clinton Confidant (03-27-98)

 More Stories...


 Ken Starr Discusses His Investigation (04-02-98)

 More Transcripts...


 Lewinsky Father: Executive Privilege Will Prolong Daughter's Suffering (03-23-98)

 More Polls...


 Legal Documents Released In The Jones v. Clinton Case

 The Willey-Clinton Letters

 The Julie Steele Affidavit

Video On Demand

 CNN Special: What Do We Know? (03-13-98)


Voter's Voice

 Starr vb. Clinton (03-24-98)



 A Chronology: Key Moments In The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal

 Cast of Characters In The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal


 Community: Debate the scandal on the AllPolitics messageboard.


TIME On Politics

Al's Turn For Good News?

By Eric Pooley

TIME This Week

(TIME, February 9) -- On the road, Al Gore is used to being neglected. But last week in South San Francisco, a small tornado of reporters and techies was roiling through a biotechnology laboratory in hot pursuit of the Vice President, hoping he would replay for the cameras Wednesday's high- pitched defense of a President caught up in L'Affaire Lewinsky. "What's he saying?" a reporter hissed, with Gore just out of earshot.

What he was saying is this: "So differing density levels within the protein itself can affect the uniformity of the freezing process?" A Genentech scientist nodded agreement. California Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Tom Lantos smiled gamely. And Gore asked question after question: "Is this a process you patented? What software program do you use? Do you get stock options?" Soon he joined a roomful of scientists to deliver an ode to the job-creation benefits of the federal research-and-development tax credit.

When the Lewinsky mess began, says Robert Squier, Gore's veteran media adviser, "we expected the increased press attention. It was inevitable." And welcome? Squier won't admit to that one. But Gore and his advisers knew that as difficult as the scandal might get for Clinton, it was not going to be so bad for Gore. After all, the worst case for Clinton means the Oval Office for Gore. The Vice President's poll numbers are up, and his Air Force Two press compartment is full of reporters who have little choice but to report on Gore and his 21st century agenda: solar-energy tax credits. High-tech classrooms. Computerized police departments. And the "Digital Earth initiative," Gore's vision of tomorrow's science museum, a 3-D virtual globe connected via the Internet to all the scientific, political, geographic and cultural data under the sun. "You reporters want scandal," says a senior Gore adviser, "but you have to settle for high-tech heaven."

Maybe it's Gore's turn for good news. Of late, it seemed, whenever Clinton tripped, it was Gore who stubbed his toe. To make his bones in the Administration, for example, good- soldier Gore worked too hard at fund raising and ended up taking money from Buddhist monks and babbling about controlling legal authority. But tomcattery is one perceived Clintonian trait that hasn't rubbed off on Gore. "Clinton and Gore are friends, but not that kind of friends," says a senior Gore aide. "They're close colleagues who sometimes see each other away from work, but then usually as a foursome with their wives--not a boys' night out. I'm not trying to build any distance into their friendship, but it's not a locker- room thing. Gore doesn't golf ...or whatever."

The choirboy role comes naturally, and so does the job of loyal friend to an embattled President. What's tricky for Gore, however, is the question of ambition. He wants to succeed Clinton more than anything, but if the loyal lieutenant were suddenly to seem disloyal, Gore's image would instantly turn counterfeit. So Gore had his chief of staff, Ron Klain, spread the warning to his people: Talk about "transition," and you'll be out of a job.

Since anyone who gets into scandal management can expect a Ken Starr subpoena, Gore has never taken part in sessions "on Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate or any other gate," says a Gore adviser. Instead Gore and aides last week worked to line up congressional support for Clinton. On Monday he met with 33 members of the New Democrat Coalition, a moderate House group. When Indiana Representative Tim Roemer introduced Gore, he slipped and called him "Mr. President." The room erupted with laughter, but Gore was visibly uncomfortable. He wants that title, but not yet.

In TIME This Week

Cover Date: February 9, 1998

The Trouble With Monica
Inside Starr And His Operation
"THIS IS A BATTLE." -Hillary Clinton
The Keeper Of Secrets Is In Starr's Sights
The Week Feminists Got Laryngitis
Just Keep 'Em Laughing
First Lady In Chief
More Froggy Than The French
Persectued or Paranoid?
Indecent Exposure
The Netly News: All Monica All The Time
Notebook: A Good Poke In The Eye?
Al's Turn For Good News?
With A Friend Like This...
Laws That Run Amok
What's Sex Got To Do With It?
Eager Minds, Big Ear
As Washington Burns...

Barnes & Noble book search

Archives   |   CQ News   |   TIME On Politics   |   Feedback   |   Help

Copyright © 1998 AllPolitics All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this information is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.
Who we are.