View Full Version : The man who worked to steal the 2000 election ...

01-19-2010, 08:26 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Bob Glass was running late. He hustled his little red Geo past Bubba´s Bar-B-Q Pit and the 4-H Club and the Lots O´ Snacks on his way toward Interstate 10 and his polling place.

Mr. Glass was at the westernmost tip of the Florida panhandle and had to get clear to the other side of Pensacola in less than half an hour. Traffic would be murder, what with all the military personnel streaming out of installations to vote for a new commander in chief.

But Mr. Glass, 50, had never failed to cast a ballot in a presidential election -- and he wasn´t about to now.

Mr. Glass sells, well, glass. Don´t bother with the wisecracks; he´s heard them all. People ask if he legally changed his name as a promotional gimmick for his windshield-replacement business, which he runs from the back room of his brother´s house six miles from the Alabama border."

"No, I´ve had this name since 1950," Mr. Glass says with a weary chuckle. "For as far back as I can remember."

Mr. Glass swung the 1996 Geo onto the highway entrance ramp. The words "WINDSHIELD EXPRESS" fan across the tinted top of the windshield in white vinyl letters, slightly askew. The left and right sides of the car are adorned with white magnetic signs that say: "Windshield Express: Keep it local, keep it fast; let us repair your auto glass."

Mr. Glass came up with that slogan himself. To anyone who makes fun of it, he points out that the traveling billboard generates quite a few cold calls from fellow motorists who end up as paying customers. Oh, and it doesn´t hurt that a "Bush-Cheney" sticker is affixed to the back bumper.

Out here in Escambia County, people like to say Florida is the only state in which north is south and south is north.

What they mean is that in northern Florida, where the Panhandle runs right along the Georgia and Alabama borders, folks consider themselves Southerners. It´s the kind of place where waitresses in even the finest restaurants think nothing of addressing middle-age businessmen they´ve never met before as "honey," "sugar," "sweetie" and even "baby." This isn´t just the South; it´s the Deep South.

Supporters of Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president outnumbered supporters of Vice President Al Gore by more than 2-to-1 in the Panhandle´s 10 westernmost counties, which collectively form the only region of Florida that falls within the Central Time Zone.

Florida´s remaining 57 counties are in the Eastern Time Zone. As far as Mr. Glass is concerned, they might as well be in the Twilight Zone. For starters, fully half the voters of the eastern 57 counties supported Al Gore.

And every time Mr. Glass crossed the time line, he says, it seemed to get worse. The farther he traveled east and then south down the peninsula, the more he ran into liberal Democrats, who continued to invade these warmer climes from up north, particularly New York and New England.

"I´m a firm believer that everyone from Orlando south is not a native Floridian," harrumphs Mr. Glass, who once endured a year in Orlando before retreating to his beloved Panhandle.

Highly motivated

The little red car chugged east along the northern edge of Pensacola. Mr. Glass still had 20 minutes to make it to his polling place, Scenic Heights Baptist Church. He knew all he had to do was get into line by 7 p.m. Central Time (8 p.m. Eastern) and he couldn´t be turned away.

Even if the line stretched outside the church and around the block, he would be able to vote for president. He might not actually cast his ballot until 7:15 or 7:30 or even 7:45, but he was determined to stand up and be counted for George W. Bush.

Mr. Glass is what pollsters call a "highly motivated voter." A rock-ribbed Republican all his life, he had cast ballots for Richard Nixon in 1972; Gerald Ford in 1976; Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984; George Bush in 1988 and 1992; and Bob Dole in 1996.

He considers it a travesty that Bill Clinton and Al Gore evicted the elder Bush from the White House in 1992. For eight years, he watched with growing frustration as the Clinton-Gore team took the nation down what he considered the wrong path.

For Mr. Glass, a Southern Baptist, the final straw came when Mr. Clinton, also a Baptist, had sex with a White House intern young enough to be his daughter -- and then lied under oath to cover it up. Mr. Glass believed the only honorable thing for Mr. Clinton to do was resign and spare the nation the wrenching ordeal of impeachment.

But he says the crowning insult came just hours after Mr. Clinton was impeached, when Mr. Gore stood on the South Lawn of the White House and pronounced his boss one of the greatest presidents in history.
Now Mr. Gore himself was running for president. He specifically talked about his presidency as one that would last eight years, not four. The colossal presumptuousness sickened Mr. Glass. And if anything, Mr. Gore was more of a liberal, tax-and-spend Democrat than Mr. Clinton.

"I´d had it up to here with Clinton-Gore," Mr. Glass recalls, flattening a palm and raising it dead level to his blue eyes.

Although he never had been active in party politics, he began attending meetings of the Escambia County Republican Party. As the election drew near, he agreed to help run a phone bank.

Unlike some younger volunteers, who used a script in placing their calls, the 50-year-old Mr. Glass spoke from his heart. With a soft Southern affability, he tried to impart to fellow Republicans the importance of voter turnout. He even offered to drive them to the polls.

The day before the election, Mr. Glass and other volunteers stood on street corners, clutching Bush-Cheney signs and waving to motorists.

"I was -- ," Mr. Glass grasped for words, " -- on fire. You know, for the cause. Oh, I was highly motivated."

'Slipping away'

Mr. Glass spent more and more time on the Internet, visiting conservative chat rooms to share his passion. He sensed a unity not just in Florida, but in other states.

"It was a feeling Republicans hadn´t felt in a long time," he says.

And yet, in the closing days of the campaign, Mr. Glass began to fret that Mr. Gore was somehow pulling ahead.

He winced when the media went ballistic over the 11th-hour revelation that Mr. Bush had been cited for drunken driving 24 years earlier. The story, leaked by a Gore supporter, dominated TV news coverage the weekend before the election.

"I could see it falling away from G.W. Bush, I really could. I mean, those last-minute tactics like the DUI thing. Oh, it was just horrible. I could just see it slipping away.

"Granted, I think he should have been more upfront with it sooner," adds Mr. Glass, a teetotaler. "Then they wouldn´t have made such a big deal out of it."

Like anyone else who had paid even passing attention to the campaign in its final hundred hours, Mr. Glass was aware that after months of speculation about this state or that being a "battleground," the polls and conventional wisdom coalesced around three as most crucial: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.

Mr. Gore, the underdog, could win the election only if he swept the "trifecta," as these states were being called by conservative and liberal pundits alike. The flip side of this theory was that Mr. Bush had to retain at least one of the three -- preferably Florida, the largest -- to become the next president.

Mr. Glass became alarmed by indications that Mr. Gore was firming up his numbers in Michigan and Pennsylvania. If these warning signs proved true, the election might well come down to the Sunshine State. His fears were confirmed when Mr. Gore chose Florida in which to end the campaign he had begun 18 months earlier. The vice president´s confident optimism troubled Mr. Glass.

"Tonight, when the vote comes in, we´re going to win Florida and we´re going to win the White House," Mr. Gore vowed during a televised rally in Tampa only minutes before polls opened Election Day. "It´s almost 5:30 a.m., Texas time, and George W. Bush is still asleep. And I´m still speaking to people here in Florida."

Mr. Glass couldn´t help but worry that Mr. Gore was right. The rally was merely the capstone of a furious get-out-the-vote effort by Florida Democrats. It was the kind of ground war that Democrats usually win.

But Mr. Glass also knew that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the Republican nominee´s younger brother, had spent years cultivating a remarkably effective, county-by-county Republican machine. As one of the innumerable cogs in Jeb´s machine, Mr. Glass had done his best to kick things into overdrive. Yet he now entertained serious doubts.

The bad call

Having driven as far east as he could without actually leaving Pensacola, Mr. Glass swung onto Scenic Highway and headed south along Pensacola Bay. Expensive, waterfront homes with spectacular views lined the left side of the road.

He planned to cut through a subdivision to get to the church on time. He was less than half a mile from the turnoff and it was only 6:50. Plenty of time.

On previous election days Mr. Glass had voted early, on his way into work. But he had felt compelled to attend a breakfast meeting of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce; he considered "networking" important for his fledgling business.

Mr. Glass listened to the radio as he neared the church. He was a big fan of talk radio, which he considered the only sector of the American news media not completely overrun by liberal Democrats.

That afternoon he had tuned in a show hosted by local conservative Luke McCoy, who lived just three town houses away from him on a cul-de-sac off Scenic Highway. Mr. McCoy got an on-air call from Jeb Bush, who had just arrived in Austin, Texas, to monitor election returns with his brother.

"Hey, Luke -- Jeb Bush," the Florida governor had said. "I just want to urge you to do everything you can to get the vote out. It´s going to be very tight, and we need the people of the Panhandle."

As Mr. Glass neared the turnoff for his polling place, he flitted from station to station in hopes of catching a little election coverage.

". . . and so Al Gore has won Florida´s 25 electoral votes," a voice crackled from the radio.
Alone in his Geo, Mr. Glass cursed aloud.

"How can this be?" he remembers thinking. "We´re not through voting yet."

The fire goes out

Sure, polls had closed nearly an hour ago in the Eastern Time Zone. But here in the Central Time Zone, where Bush supporters outnumbered Gore supporters by more than 2-to-1, voters were lined up outside polling places from Pensacola to Panama City. They could show up for another 10 minutes. And those in line by the stroke of 7 could vote no matter how long it took.

Voters have been known to stand in line for up to two hours in presidential elections. Military personnel are notorious for crowding into polling places on the way home from work. The western Panhandle teemed with military installations. The Naval Air Station was right there on Pensacola Bay. This was the very cradle of naval aviation, the storied home of the legendary Blue Angels.

These were not the kind of voters who were going to support Al Gore. But would they be willing to continue standing in line now that Mr. Gore already had won Florida?

Mr. Glass´ mind raced. He understood how the Electoral College functioned. He knew all too well that the presidential race would be determined by electoral votes, not popular votes.

Florida´s 25 electoral votes would not be divvied up to reflect each man´s share of the popular vote. It was winner-take-all and loser-take-nothing.

And although the presidential election is widely regarded as America´s only national political race, no person´s vote has the slightest practical impact whatsoever outside of his or her own state.

Flush with anger and a sense of dread that Mr. Gore´s win in Florida would put him over the top nationally, Mr. Glass drove straight past the turnoff for his polling place at the church. Although other Republicans were on the ballot, including an acquaintance running for sheriff, those candidates vanished from his radar screen.

Bob Glass suddenly felt the fire in his belly go out. For the first time in his adult life, he decided not to exercise his sacred right to vote for president of the United States.

"What´s the use?" he recalls reasoning. "I mean, if Gore´s already won the state, there´s no use in voting for Bush.

"I was so infuriated. I was distraught. And I just went home."

Bush's net loss

Mr. Glass was among 187,000 registered voters in the Central Time Zone of Florida who did not cast ballots in the 2000 election. The overwhelming majority failed to vote because of good old-fashioned, garden-variety apathy.

But tens of thousands of others were dissuaded by the premature, erroneous declaration of a Gore victory, according to studies conducted by Democrats, independents and Republicans. Taken together, these surveys show the bad call caused Mr. Bush a net loss of about 10,000 votes.

"By prematurely declaring Gore the winner shortly before the polls had closed in Florida´s conservative western Panhandle, the media ended up suppressing the Republican vote," concluded John R. Lott Jr., senior research scholar at Yale University Law School.

Mr. Lott put Mr. Bush´s net loss at a "conservative estimate of 10,000 votes."

John McLaughlin & Associates, a Republican polling firm based in Washington, D.C., pegged the loss at 11,500 votes. Its poll, conducted Nov. 15 and 16, showed the premature calling of Florida for Mr. Gore dissuaded 28,050 voters from casting ballots. Although 23 percent were Gore supporters, 64 percent -- or nearly three times as many -- would have voted for Mr. Bush.

"The premature announcement discouraged many registered voters who, according to our survey´s results, would have voted like the rest of their neighbors -- overwhelmingly for George W. Bush," said the survey´s authors, senior analyst Stuart Polk and data specialist Charlie Banks. "If only a few thousand of these disenfranchised voters had heard that the polls were still open, and the race in Florida was still too close to call -- and then voted -- George W. Bush would have gained a decisive, net positive margin of votes over Al Gore.

"These votes would have helped Bush carry the popular vote statewide," the pollsters concluded, "without uncertainty."

Even a study commissioned by Democratic strategist Bob Beckel concluded Mr. Bush suffered a net loss of up to 8,000 votes in the western Panhandle after Florida was called for Mr. Gore.

These surveys, like others conducted after previous elections, demonstrated that early projections of victory generally dissuade supporters of the losing candidate more than the winning candidate.

Indeed, Mr. Glass later would learn that many voters standing in line at Scenic Heights Baptist Church and elsewhere went home after hearing the news.

Networks' denial

News travels fast in the Information Age. In the 11-minute interval between NBC News calling Florida for Mr. Gore and the polls "closing," fully two-thirds of all voters in the western Panhandle heard about it, the McLaughlin survey found.

It is difficult to overstate the political and historical significance of the suppressed turnout in the western Panhandle. If the network news had not jumped the gun, Mr. Bush would have netted roughly 10,000 more votes in the Florida results, an election that ended up being decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Those 10,000 votes would not have been enough to prevent the automatic recount mandated by Florida law when the statewide margin of victory is less than one-half of 1 percent. But they certainly would have presented the Gore team with a much higher mountain to climb.

Indeed, one crucial calculation that convinced Mr. Gore to fight so tenaciously for 36 days after the election was that he was only a few hundred votes shy of victory.

His lawyers and spinners constantly laid out scenarios in which they cobbled together enough votes in this county and that county to overcome Mr. Bush´s razor-thin margin of victory. A five-digit margin would have been much more daunting than a three-digit one.

NBC´s premature and erroneous announcement at 6:49 p.m. set off a stampede among the other networks. Although virtually all the network executives later admitted they were wrong, they refused to acknowledge having influenced as much as a single voter in the western Panhandle.

"In the case of Florida, it would be extremely difficult to argue any impact on turnout," CBS News President Andrew Heyward insisted. "The polls were closed in all but 5.8 percent of the state´s precincts, with the rest closing just 10 minutes later."

Mr. Heyward didn´t mention that those precincts contained half a million registered voters.
ABC News President David Westin was even more dismissive.

"There was no point during the evening when it was likely or even possible that voters would decide not to vote simply because of the erroneous projection of the presidential race in Florida," Mr. Westin declared.

Mr. Glass calls these assertions arrogant.

"When you give out information that directly impacts people´s behavior, that is just wrong, wrong, wrong," he says. "By anybody´s standards, it´s wrong.

"You know, a lot of people take the news as gospel," he adds. "Course, I realize you have to rely on yourself to discern the truth in what the media says. There´s a fine line between the news and what you get out of the news.

"But even then, you depend on news almost as gospel. Somebody´s got to be responsible for this."</div></div>

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01-20-2010, 02:58 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><u><span style='font-size: 20pt'>Stiffing the troops serving overseas</span></u>

Bill Sammon

Published 5/8/01

The Democratic candidate for president wielded more power than anyone else in the five weeks after Election Day, according to Bill Sammon, White House correspondent for The Washington Times, in his new book, "At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election."

In this second of three excerpts, he details how the Gore legal team plotted to throw out the votes of Florida servicemen and women serving overseas.

Navy Lt. John Russell was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by the night duty officer aboard the USS Tarawa, an amphibious assault ship sent to help retrieve the terrorist-crippled destroyer USS Cole off the coast of Yemen.

As he crawled out of his bunk in the wee hours that Saturday, Nov. 18, Lt. Russell was startled to hear that his wife, Mary, was on the phone.

The duty officer had tried to tell Mary Russell that her husband was sleeping, but she insisted he be awakened. She had used the emergency number given to spouses of sailors. Something major must be wrong back home in Jacksonville, Fla.

Lt. Russell, 40, was disoriented when he heard his wife´s voice. The Tarawa was 8,000 miles from Jacksonville, and the connection had a distracting voice delay.

Mrs. Russell explained that she had just gotten home when she received a phone call from a woman at the Duval County elections office who said her husband´s absentee ballot in the presidential election had been disqualified at the urging of Democratic lawyers on behalf of Vice President Al Gore, the party´s presidential nominee.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Russell told her husband, she got a call from a man with the Republican Party. He confirmed that Lt. Russell´s ballot had been disqualified -- along with hundreds of others that the Democrats had protested.

It was 7:30 p.m. Friday in Jacksonville, and the Republicans acting on behalf of their nominee, George W. Bush, were in the midst of a fierce battle with the Democrats down at the elections office. They had been fighting since 9 that morning and looked nowhere close to being finished.

"I was hot," Lt. Russell recalls. "Here I am, deployed overseas. I´ve done everything I can to cast my ballot properly. And I find out my vote doesn´t count because of a lousy postmark -- even though they received it before Election Day."

John Russell is one of those rare Navy officers who came up through the ranks of enlisted men. Ten years and three months it had taken him to earn his commission.

In early November, Lt. Russell was in the midst of a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean aboard the Tarawa, which he calls "40,000 tons of twisted steel and sex appeal."

The unexpected detour to Yemen -- after the terrorist bomb blew 17 fellow sailors on the Cole to bits -- was just part of the job to this career Navy man. In fact, when his assault ship arrived on the scene, Lt. Russell volunteered to man a tugboat that eased the crippled Cole out of the harbor to safety.

Such unpredictability had a lot to do with the appeal of the armed services. Lt. Russell never knew exactly where he was headed next. That´s why he had made a point of voting for president so early.

He had arranged for the Duval County elections office to send him an absentee ballot. It arrived Oct. 1, in a batch of mail delivered by truck on the Tarawa´s last day docked at a Thailand port. By the time he opened the ballot, the Tarawa was steaming through the Indian Ocean toward the Arabian Sea.

"One of the things I´ve learned when you´re deployed overseas is the time it takes the mail to get back," Lt. Russell says. "I don´t care how quickly you throw it in the mailbox. It can take up to 30 days to get back to the States. So as soon as I got my absentee ballot, I got it witnessed [and] dated, and threw it back in the mailbox."

Helicopters often must chase down Navy ships to pick up and deliver mail. A chopper caught up with the Tarawa in the Middle East about a week after Lt. Russell dropped off his absentee ballot with the ship´s postal clerk.

The ballot, along with the rest of the ship´s mail, was choppered north across the Arabian peninsula to the tiny Persian Gulf archipelago of Bahrain. From there it was loaded aboard a military transport plane and flown to the United States, where it was dumped into the civilian postal system on the East Coast and made its way south to Florida.

Lt. Russell´s ballot arrived at the Duval County elections office Nov. 6, the day before the election -- right about the time he was helping play host to the grief-stricken sailors of the Cole and allowing investigators to take over his office on the Tarawa.

A sick feeling

John Russell took voting seriously. His reverence for this fundamental exercise of democracy was instilled in him at Fairfax High School in suburban Washington, where one of his teachers was a delegate to the Virginia state legislature.

"He showed us how important it is to vote," Lt. Russell recalls. "We were tasked in our senior year to write a bill to get something changed. Well, vehicle inspections in Virginia used to be every six months. We got it changed to a year. That´s my claim to fame.

"Ever since then, I´ve voted. I haven´t missed an election yet. Here´s my cut on it: If you don´t vote, you´re voting. You´re just saying you don´t care what happens."

Like most Navy ships, the Tarawa picked up the Armed Forces Network broadcast, which provides sailors in far-flung locales with a taste of American television. In addition to sports and movies there was a nightly news feed from CNN. In the days after the election, Lt. Russell had watched with amazement as his home state of Florida erupted into all-out political war over the presidency.

As the days stretched into a second week, his fascination turned to horror. CNN reported that Democratic lawyers had mounted an organized campaign to disqualify overseas ballots cast by military personnel. They were attacking several types of ballots, including those that arrived without a military postmark.

Lt. Russell hurried to the Tarawa´s onboard post office. He asked the mail clerks whether his ballot had been postmarked. They told him no. The only absentee ballots they had bothered postmarking were the ones that sailors mailed in the final days before the election. The clerks had sent those via express mail.

But the ballots mailed weeks ahead of time, including his, had not needed a postmark. After all, federal law required that military ballots from overseas "shall be carried expeditiously and free of postage."

Lt. Russell got a sick feeling in his stomach. He had voted in every presidential election since he was old enough, in 1980. He fervently hoped his vote would be counted this time as well.

Then came the call from his wife early Nov. 18, saying his ballot was thrown out at the urging of Democratic lawyers.

"Oh, I was torqued," Lt. Russell says. "Especially after that Palm Beach crap. They weren´t confused about the ballot. And yet it looked like their votes were going to be counted. But to hell with the military.

"I commenced firing," he says. "Hard."

Smoking gun

Years before Ed Fleming became a lawyer in Pensacola, Fla., he was a reporter for the European edition of Stars and Stripes newspaper, which is owned by the Defense Department. The experience came in handy Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Mr. Fleming was among the small army of Republican lawyers that mobilized to help George W. Bush stave off Al Gore´s desperate quest to overturn the election. That Wednesday morning, he received a phone call from the GOP´s legal command center in Tallahassee.

"There was a rumor that there was going to be concerted, organized opposition to try to keep out the military votes, and so they asked me if I would monitor the situation here in northwest Florida," Mr. Fleming says. "I knew the county attorneys around here, so I called Tom Dannheisser, who´s the county attorney in Santa Rosa County."

Mr. Dannheisser passed along a tantalizing piece of information: He had just received a five-page memo from a Democratic lawyer -- dated that day -- outlining the Democratic game plan for disqualifying military ballots. Its author was Mark Herron, a lawyer who had lost his job at a Tallahassee law firm for enlisting in Mr. Gore´s postelection army.

"Herron distributed what obviously was intended to be a confidential memo to their lawyers, to give them reasons to challenge the ballots," Mr. Fleming says. "But one of the attorneys that they hired locally to do that said, 'Well, gee, this seems good. I´ll just send it to the county attorney in advance, so he´ll know what points I´m going to make at the canvassing board meeting.´

"So he sent it to the county attorney of Santa Rosa. It was one of the dumber lawyers that had been retained by the Florida Democratic Party," Mr. Fleming quips.

Mr. Fleming asked Mr. Dannheisser whether he had received this memo in his capacity as county attorney. When Mr. Dannheisser answered yes, Mr. Fleming said he was making an official request for the memo, now a public record. Mr. Dannheisser told him to put the request in writing. By Thursday, Mr. Fleming was holding the Gore team´s "smoking gun."

He pored over the document, which instructed Democratic lawyers to make pettifogging objections to military ballots, especially those not postmarked. Having spent several years as a Defense Department employee in Europe, Mr. Fleming knew mail often was sent without a postmark. He began to formulate arguments to counter the Democrats´ antimilitary campaign.

"I sent the memo up to Tallahassee that afternoon, and it all started from there," Mr. Fleming recalls with a chuckle.

Little cheat sheet

Upon receiving the Herron memo, the Bush command center in Tallahassee blast-faxed it to Republican lawyers in all 67 Florida counties. The military ballots were to be publicly tallied the next day by canvassing boards across the state.

Nowhere would that battle of the ballots be fiercer than in Duval County, home to more military families than any other county in Florida. Tens of thousands of active-duty sailors were based at massive installations like Mayport Naval Station and Jacksonville Naval Air Station. A huge chunk of the Atlantic Fleet, including the USS John F. Kennedy battle group, called Duval County its home port.

So it was no surprise that Duval had more absentee ballots from overseas than any other county -- 618 of 3,500 cast statewide. Neither was it a surprise that five Gore lawyers showed up at the elections office at 9 a.m. Friday to disqualify as many of those ballots as possible.

Tom Bishop is one of the Republican lawyers who volunteered to counter the Gore assault in Duval. He grew increasingly angry as he watched the Democrats, armed with the Herron memo, systematically disqualify large numbers of military ballots.

"They had their little cheat sheet they were using, and they objected on every single possible ground they could, no matter how spurious," Mr. Bishop says. "It was so bad that there was rolling of the eyes by even some of the Democrats there who were watching their lawyers work."

Prior to Nov. 17, the supervisor of elections checked signatures on ballot envelopes against signature cards on file. He determined that only two absentee ballots could not be included because the signatures did not match.

But now the Democrats insisted that they be allowed to compare all signatures, one by one. For seven tedious hours, they bitterly argued that signatures on more than 100 envelopes did not precisely match the signature cards -- although some envelopes had been signed by sailors on rolling seas in hostile situations.

"You could clearly tell it was the same person´s signature, but they would object because it didn´t have a certain curlicue or didn´t have a certain twist or it was smaller," Mr. Bishop says.

Even more infuriating were attempts by Democrats to disqualify military ballots that had no overseas postmark. The ostensible logic was that some voters might have marked their ballots a day or two after the election and then mailed them in.

But the Gore lawyers took this argument to absurd lengths by actually disqualifying ballots received before Nov. 7. One belonged to a sailor named John Russell, whose vote was unceremoniously thrown out.

"I don´t know how somebody in the Sea of Japan or the Indian Ocean could have miraculously gotten it here on the sixth of November if it was supposedly mailed after the election," Mr. Bishop says. "The whole idea behind the foreign postmark is to make sure it´s timely."

Challenging every vote

The Gore lawyers protested ballots on which the return address of the attesting witness was incomplete. They railed against ballots on which foreign postmarks were smudged or partially illegible.

"Our goal was to challenge every vote that didn´t appear legitimate," says Mike Langton, Gore campaign chairman for northeast Florida.

By 7 p.m., the Democrats had lodged protests against 147 absentee ballots. The canvassing board agreed to hear formal arguments from the Gore and Bush camps.

Circuit Judge Brent Shore, chairman of the Duval County Canvassing Board, expressed incredulity at the tactics of Gore lawyer Leslie Goller, who went first. It was Judge Shore´s 27th wedding anniversary, and he had promised to take his wife to dinner. Now it looked as though he would spend the rest of the night listening to Democratic objections.

"I want to make sure that I understand your position," Judge Shore told Ms. Goller. "As I understand your position, if a service person in Germany avails himself or herself to free postage through the military, provides the absentee ballot on or before November 7th to be mailed in the normal course of through the military postal system, or otherwise, and they get the free postage, if that absentee ballot envelope --probably unbeknown to the person who mailed it -- does not bear a postmark on it, even though it´s otherwise proper, your position is that is an invalid ballot and we should not consider it. Is that correct?"

"That is our position," Ms. Goller replied.

Judge Shore and the other board members spent the next three hours examining the 147 ballots the Gore lawyers wanted to throw out. This was followed by hour after hour of wrangling, bad pizza and stale coffee.

At 4:11 a.m. -- more than 19 hours after it began -- the nightmarish battle over Duval´s military ballots came to an end. Duval was the last of Florida´s 67 counties to complete the arduous task. When the canvassing board announced that the ballots of 149 soldiers, sailors and airmen had been disqualified, a pair of jubilant Gore lawyers exchanged high-fives.

A Republican, visibly shaken by this sight, demanded to know how they could celebrate the disenfranchisement of U.S. military personnel risking their lives around the world. One of the Gore lawyers glibly replied: "A win´s a win."

'Bad form'

Of the ballots that were counted, 318 went for Mr. Bush and 151 for Mr. Gore. Thus, Mr. Bush netted 167 votes in Duval, his biggest single gain in the county-by-county tallying of overseas ballots. He netted another 493 votes in the other 66 counties, giving him a one-day total of 630. Overnight, Mr. Bush´s 300-vote lead more than tripled to 930.

Still, Republicans were angry that the vice president´s team had succeeded in disqualifying 1,420 ballots statewide -- or more than 40 percent of the 3,500 cast. They vowed to go to court to resurrect as many of those ballots as possible.

Particularly incensed was Mr. Bush´s running mate, Richard B. Cheney, who had overseen the Persian Gulf war as secretary of defense. Of all the dirty tricks attempted by Mr. Gore during the postelection struggle, Mr. Cheney considered this the dirtiest.

"I have strong feelings about the right of our people in uniform to vote -- and they, perhaps, above all others," Mr. Cheney told this reporter. "They´re out there putting their lives on the line for us. For the other camp to pursue a conscious strategy to try to disqualify their ballots, I thought, was bad form."

As for those ballots the Bush lawyers managed to include, they attributed much of their success to their sneak peek at the Herron memo, which provided a road map of the Gore strategy. But the memo paid even greater dividends in the all-important public relations war.

The episode had turned into a fiasco for the Gore camp. The vice president was getting creamed in the press. He had no choice but to dispatch his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, to do damage control on the Sunday morning political talk shows.

Incredibly, the plan was for Mr. Lieberman to stick to his guns and defend the massive disqualification of military ballots. He was prepped on this strategy by no less an authority than Mark Herron himself, who spoke with Mr. Lieberman and other Gore officials in a conference call from Tallahassee late Saturday.

But when faced with the pointed questions of Tim Russert on NBC´s "Meet the Press," Mr. Lieberman began to waver from his prepared script.

"Will you today, as a representative of the Gore campaign, ask every county to relook at those ballots that came from armed services people and waive any so-called irregularities or technicalities which would disqualify them?" Mr. Russert demanded.

"I don´t know that I have that authority," Mr. Lieberman hedged. "I don´t believe I do legally, or in any other way."

Although Mr. Lieberman was one of the most zealous crusaders in the postelection debacle, he was also a shrewd enough politician to realize he had been sent on a fool´s errand. He began to signal his ambivalence.
Asked whether he knew anything about Mr. Herron, Mr. Lieberman said no -- even though he had talked with him the night before. He also tried to distance himself from Mr. Herron´s controversial memo.

"I checked with our campaign last night when I heard about this, because I was upset about it," said Mr. Lieberman, who was careful not to mention it was Mr. Herron he consulted. "I´ve been told that the directions to our personnel were pretty much the same as the Republican people had, which is: Just make sure the law is followed. That´s all."</div></div>


01-20-2010, 03:32 PM
Oh, get real! Democrats would never stoop so low as to try and steal an election!!!!!



01-21-2010, 06:04 AM
I am wondering where the outrage is from our leftist brethren and sistren?

I am confident that they are preparing a scathing rebuke of Al Gore.


01-21-2010, 09:40 AM
GW won Florida by 537 votes- before the Supreme Court STOPPED the counting!.
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Previously voter purging had been conducted (sometimes controversially) by local elections officials. During the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, local elections officials in southern states, including Florida, were the subjects of lawsuits, marches and civil disobedience as African-Americans attempted to register to vote. This led to the passage of the federal 1965 Voting Rights Act banning discriminatory practices that kept African-Americans off the voter rolls.

<span style='font-size: 17pt'>The first firm hired on 1998 to purge the voter rolls was Professional Service Inc., <u>which charged $5,700 for the job. </u>Later in the same year, the state placed an open <span style='font-size: 8pt'></span>request for tenders to bid for the job. The contract was assigned to DBT Onlines, despite the fact that its bid was the highest-priced. <u>The state gave the job to DBT for a first year fee of US $2,317,800 with total fees eventually reaching US $4 million </u></span>[3] The Florida Department of Elections terminated Professional Service Inc.'s contract in 1999. DBT Online was later acquired by ChoicePoint, of Atlanta, in early 2000.
[edit] Problems in the cleansing process

At first, Florida specified only exact matches on names, birthdates and genders to identify voters as felons. However, state records reveal a memo dated March 1999 from Emmett "Bucky" Mitchell, a lawyer for the state elections office who was supervising the felon purge, asking DBT to loosen its criteria for acceptable matches. When DBT representatives warned Mitchell that this would yield a large proportion of false positives (mismatches), Mitchell's reply was that it would be up to each county elections supervisor to deal with the problem.[4]

In February 2000, in a phone conversation with the BBC's London studios, ChoicePoint vice-president James Lee said that the state "wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon".[5][6]
[edit] James Lee's testimony

On 17 April, 2001, James Lee testified, before the McKinney panel, that the state had given DBT the directive to add to the purge list people who matched at least 90% of a last name. DBT objected, knowing that this would produce a huge number of false positives (non-felons).[7]

<span style='font-size: 14pt'>Lee went on saying that the state then ordered DBT to shift to an even <u>lower threshold of 80% match,</u> allowing also names to be reversed (thus a person named Thomas Clarence could be taken to be the same as Clarence Thomas). Besides this, middle initials were skipped, Jr. and Sr. suffixes dropped, and some nicknames and aliases were added to<span style='font-size: 20pt'> puff up the list.</span></span>

"DBT told state officials", testified Lee, "that the rules for creating the [purge] list would mean a significant number of people who were not deceased, not registered in more than one county, or not a felon, would be included on the list. DBT made suggestions to reduce the numbers of eligible voters included on the list". According to Lee, to this suggestion the state told the company, "Forget about it".

Demographics of the purge list

<span style='font-size: 17pt'>According to the Palm Beach Post,<u> among other problems with the list, although blacks accounted for 88% of those removed from the rolls, they made up only about 11% of Florida's voters.</u></span>[9]

Voter demographics authority David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, reviewed The Nation's findings and concluded that the purge-and-block program was <span style='font-size: 20pt'>"a patently obvious technique to discriminate against black voters".</span> He noted that based on nationwide conviction rates, African-Americans would account for 46% of the ex-felon group wrongly disfranchised.[10]
[edit] Pre-election cleansing
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris

Between May 1999 and Election Day 2000, two Florida secretaries of state, Sandra Mortham and Katherine Harris, distributed the scrub lists produced by the cleansing process to counties and ordered the 57,700 people identified as "ex-felons" to be removed from voter rolls. Together the lists comprised nearly 1% of Florida's electorate and nearly 3% of its African-American voters.[citation needed]

At the time of the election, the purge list contained a number of false positives — people identified as felons who were not actually felons.
[edit] </div></div>

53,000, that's just for starters.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Weyrich: "Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome -- good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

Need I say more? /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/whistle.gif </div></div>

video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GBAsFwPglw)

01-21-2010, 10:31 AM
So your complaint is that ACORN over registrations were purged?

Thanks for confirming that Gore and the democ rats were practicing voter fraud.


01-26-2010, 10:53 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><u><span style='font-size: 26pt'>Gore played all cards before finally folding</span></u>

Bill Sammon

Published 5/9/01

The Democratic nominee for president wielded more raw power than anyone else in the nation during the five weeks after Election Day, according to "At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election" (Regnery), the new book by Bill Sammon, senior White House correspondent for The Washington Times. In the third of three excerpts, he details how Mr. Gore cast himself as victim while undermining the legitimacy of George W. Bush´s election as president.

Late into the night of Dec. 12, Vice President Al Gore and his legal team pored over the U.S. Supreme Court´s historic Bush v. Gore decision for any glimmer of hope that could be transformed into yet another appeal.

Mr. Gore wondered aloud whether the decision could be parlayed into some sort of massive outcry from the black community, providing political cover for one last assault on George W. Bush.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had been advising Mr. Gore throughout the post-election debacle in Florida, implored the vice president to use "every means available" to fight on, promising a "civil rights explosion."

Mr. Gore kept agonizing, Hamlet-like, until after 2 a.m. before finally instructing his legal team in Tallahassee to pull another all-nighter and draft one last batch of briefs. He figured he had conceded too early once before and wasn´t going to repeat the mistake. He would sleep on it.

But in the morning, when the vice president looked over his lawyers´ handiwork, he acknowledged it was pretty far-fetched.

The lawyers wanted to go back to the Florida Supreme Court and try to convince the justices that the deadline for seating the state´s electors actually could be pushed from Dec. 12 to Dec. 18, even though lead Gore lawyer David Boies already had told the court it could not. The lawyers somehow would persuade Florida´s highest court to issue uniform, statewide standards for recounting ballots.

Then, after the justices agreed to all this, the lawyers would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to essentially rescind its pro-Bush ruling that the ongoing recounts were unconstitutional.

Gore lawyer Ron Klain practically begged for permission to pursue this legal "strategy" for the next six days. When Mr. Gore demurred, some of his lawyers in Tallahassee actually wept.

The scene was reminiscent of that first morning, five weeks earlier, when Gore aides cried after learning there was no room for them on the maiden planeload of operatives bound for Tallahassee. The bizarre crusade was ending as it began -- with the tears of true believers.

Mr. Gore then summoned campaign chairman William Daley, whose father was said to have stolen Illinois for John F. Kennedy four decades earlier. Perversely relishing his own role as the Rasputin of American politics, Mr. Gore told Mr. Daley he had changed his mind and was going to make one last lunge for the presidency. Mr. Daley was momentarily mortified. The vice president hastened to explain he was only kidding.

That afternoon in Tallahassee, Mr. Jackson held another angry rally to declare that Mr. Bush had "stolen" the election.

"He´ll be the president legally, but he does not have moral authority," said Mr. Jackson, a married man who was concealing from the world the fact that he had sired a child by a mistress.

<u>Accepting finality</u>

Other Democrats were similarly embittered. Some on Capitol Hill begged Mr. Gore not to use the words "concede" or "concession." Instead, they implored him to say he was merely "withdrawing" from a race he didn´t really lose. They said the election was, at worst, a tie, and beseeched Mr. Gore not to give Mr. Bush the satisfaction of knowing he had won.

But Mr. Gore ignored the advice. At 9:02 p.m., he stepped before the cameras in the vice president´s office in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House. For the first time in 36 days, he publicly acknowledged the presidency belonged to Mr. Bush.

"Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road," Mr. Gore said. "Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now it has ended -- resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy."

Mr. Gore still was trying to level the playing field, to equate himself with Mr. Bush as blameless in the Florida debacle. He was portraying himself as innocent bystander, coping as best he could with a great trauma foisted upon him while he was minding his own business. "It came," the vice president insisted, as if a meteor had struck the Earth. But it was Mr. Gore, not some mysterious force of nature, who caused the post-election nightmare.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt: While I strongly disagree with the court´s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome."

The man who stubbornly denied the finality of the election, pressing the fight for weeks after it became obvious he could not possibly win, was patting himself on the back for accepting finality.

Mr. Gore could have accepted finality Thursday, Nov. 9, when the mandatory recount showed he would not pull ahead and the "butterfly ballot" controversy in Palm Beach County offered no suitable remedy. He could have accepted finality Monday, Dec. 4, when Leon County Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls and the U.S. Supreme Court dealt him back-to-back defeats and Mr. Bush held all the trump cards.

"There is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party," Mr. Gore continued. "This is America, and we put country before party."

Just weeks earlier, Mr. Gore had diagrammed his priorities for senior aides by drawing four concentric circles: He put himself and running mate Joseph I. Lieberman in the innermost circle, big supporters such as Mr. Jackson in the second, the Democratic Party in the third and the nation in the outermost circle. Now he was preaching the virtues of putting "country before party."

<u>The media gush</u>

"As for what I´ll do next, I don´t know the answer to that one yet," Mr. Gore said. "I know I´ll spend time in Tennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively."

This was taken as a poignant acknowledgment of Mr. Gore´s failure to carry his home state, which he had represented for 16 years in Congress. If he had won in Tennessee, he would not have needed Florida to win the White House.

His pledge to return to his rural homestead proved empty. Mr. Gore moved directly from his mansion at the Naval Observatory to a private house in Arlington -- just outside Washington, the city he always considered home.

"As for the battle that ends tonight," he said, "I do believe, as my father once said, that no matter how hard the loss, defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out."

The man who once claimed to have invented the Internet now credited his father for Edward Markham´s poem, "Victory in Defeat."

Mr. Gore barely had stepped away from the podium when the media gushing began. ABC´s Peter Jennings actually choked up on the air. So did Chris Matthews, the Democratic host of MSNBC´s "Hardball."

Virtually every journalist in America praised the address as spectacularly gracious, nothing short of "the speech of Gore´s political life." In reality, it had been the speech of Mr. Gore´s political death.

It was as if his seven minutes of magnanimity somehow made up for the previous 36 days of relentless political selfishness. The cad who had tried to disenfranchise GIs serving overseas and civilians living in Florida´s Seminole and Martin counties was celebrated as a perfect gentleman.

The ruthless politician who personally directed a smear-and-destroy campaign against Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris for daring to uphold the law was practically likened to Lincoln at Gettysburg. The Nixon-like figure who had obsessed over enemies, real and imagined, ranging from the Democratic mayor of Miami-Dade to the Republican "rioters" outside the elections office there, was enshrined on the loftiest pedestal of statesmanship.

<u>The defining moment</u>

All was forgiven by an adoring press, which never held Mr. Gore responsible for trying to achieve the outcome that most of them had wanted anyway.

And yet he never apologized for what he had done to the nation or its institutions. He never said he was sorry for pre-emptively savaging Mr. Bush´s legitimacy by insisting that he himself would have won if only all the votes had been counted. In this respect, Mr. Gore was truly Clintonesque.

The post-election debacle was the defining moment of Al Gore´s 24-year career in politics. For five weeks, he unquestionably was the most powerful person in the United States.

In fact, he wielded more raw, unadulterated influence over the nation for those 36 days than he probably would have as president for four or even eight years. For that matter, he was more powerful than Mr. Bush or Mr. Clinton or any other president in an era when the influence of the White House gradually was being diluted by the forces of globalization.

For one blinding burst of chaos at the close of the 20th century, a solitary man held sway over the entire American political process. Mr. Gore alone had the capacity to keep the standoff going. Mr. Gore alone had the capacity to end it.

Mr. Bush was always left awaiting Mr. Gore´s next move. Mr. Bush, as the de facto winner who never fell behind in the Florida contest, could not be expected to concede. As far as most Americans were concerned, the question wasn´t even on the table.

By contrast, the public pressure on Mr. Gore to step aside was immense from the outset and grew only stronger. But he single-handedly kept the nation on tenterhooks for five long weeks. It was his moment of maximum influence. Mr. Gore the loser -- not Mr. Bush the winner -- dictated the entire agenda.

<u>Injecting race</u>

And yet the post-election mess was portrayed widely as a struggle between two men who bore equal responsibility for this unprecedented period of political angst. In the early going, the press vaguely intoned that one would have to step aside for the good of the nation.

But Mr. Bush had won the election and Mr. Gore had lost, even when the votes were recounted many times. Mr. Gore always was the antagonist, even when it became painfully obvious that he could not possibly prevail.

Even so, the press steadfastly refused to assign any moral or ethical weight to the relative positions of the two combatants.

This posture had the added benefit of seeming vaguely impartial. Yet if the positions of Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush had been reversed, would the press have provided as much cover to the Texas governor for 36 days?

When it finally ended, Democrats resolved to turn Mr. Gore´s defeat into a powerful political weapon. They decided to never let go of the Florida story, but rather to constantly repeat and even embellish it until it attained the status of legend.

Mr. Bush had stolen the election, pure and simple, the Democrats argued. He was aided in this colossal theft by right-wing extremists on the Supreme Court and racist storm troopers in Florida Gov. Jeb Bush´s political machine who systematically barred blacks from the polls.

It was important to inject race into the story line, even though there was virtually no evidence that blacks were turned away, because the Democrats desperately needed to reclaim the moral high ground after Mr. Gore´s unseemly power grab. So they tried to transmogrify the Florida election into some gigantic civil rights abomination. They ranked it up there with slavery, lynch mobs and the assassination of Martin Luther King. The most strident elements of the Democratic Party practically branded Mr. Bush a white supremacist.

But while Democrats were embittered by Florida, Republicans were emboldened. Mr. Gore´s audacity during those 36 days had a galvanizing effect.

Never known as particularly activist, conservatives staged impassioned, spontaneous demonstrations from Miami to Washington. Having hungered for the White House for so long, only to see it nearly snatched from their grasp by yet another Clinton-Gore scam, Republicans roused themselves from slumber and began waging the kind of hand-to-hand political combat that Democrats long ago mastered.

Close calls have a way of changing one´s outlook on politics. And Florida was the ultimate close call. It was also a searing, defining experience for an entire generation of conservatives, a great battle from which they emerged victorious.

<u>Chasing what ifs</u>

Having made the whole post-election debacle possible through bogus and biased coverage of election night, some journalists spent the next 36 days rationalizing every Gore offensive. Afterward, they did their best to fan doubts about President Bush´s legitimacy. News organizations began recounting ballots in Florida themselves, often adopting more liberal standards than the canvassing boards employed.

Whenever these tallies showed Mr. Bush gaining ground, they were downplayed by much of the press. Whenever they showed Mr. Gore overtaking Mr. Bush´s lead, they received extensive coverage. Never mind that seven out of nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that selective hand recounts were unconstitutional.

If the media truly wanted an accurate recount, they would tally by hand all 100 million ballots across the nation. Perhaps then Mr. Bush would win some of the states he narrowly lost, such as New Mexico.

But even such a colossal undertaking would amount to nothing more than an academic exercise. These meandering journeys down hypothetical paths are known in the news business as "what if" stories. A truly fair and objective press would entertain other, more plausible what ifs.

For example, what if Florida felons had been prevented from casting thousands of illegal ballots that overwhelmingly favored Mr. Gore?

And what if the networks had not robbed Mr. Bush of an estimated 10,000 votes in Florida´s western panhandle by prematurely and erroneously giving the state to Mr. Gore?

Finally, what if the networks had not deprived Mr. Bush of a nationwide victory in the popular vote by declaring the election over when it was still very much in progress?

But none of these what ifs got much play. Reporters returned again and again to just one hypothetical -- the endless recounting of ballots in Florida.

<u>Defining 'steal'</u>

In the midst of the standoff, a journalist asked Mr. Gore whether Mr. Bush was trying to steal the election. Instead of simply saying no, Mr. Gore cleverly replied that he had chosen not to use that word.

The implication was clear: Of course Mr. Gore believed Mr. Bush was trying to steal the election, although the vice president was too polite to resort to such incendiary rhetoric. Mr. Gore´s top aides and followers, however, had no such aversion -- during or after the standoff.

Did Al Gore try to steal the election? That depends on the definition of the word "steal." The dictionary defines it as the taking of someone else´s property, especially by unjust means. By that definition, it certainly can be argued that Mr. Gore tried to steal the election.

After all, official results always showed Florida´s 25 electoral votes belonged to Mr. Bush. In order to take them away, Mr. Gore resorted to measures that were ruled unconstitutional by seven justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He sought the disenfranchisement of soldiers and sailors serving overseas and of civilians living in Seminole and Martin counties. He secretly consulted an Electoral College expert in hopes of discovering "faithless" electors. He directed a smear-and-destroy campaign against Florida´s secretary of state for daring to uphold the law.

All the while, Mr. Gore openly placed his own interests above those of the nation.

If these are not unjust means, it can be argued, then what are?

[<u>b] 'Opportunity to unite'[/b]</u>

Democrats openly predicted the Bush administration would be hobbled from the outset by questions of legitimacy. Even Republicans braced for the worst.

But then something unexpected happened. During Mr. Bush´s first months in office, most Americans closed ranks behind their new president.

Though Bill Clinton had stumbled at the start of his administration and disgraced himself at the end, Mr. Bush demonstrated a sure-footedness that reassured Republicans and Democrats alike that an adult was in charge.

The new president deftly cultivated a bipartisan bonhomie that silenced most cries of illegitimacy. Many centrist Democrats, not to mention virtually the entire American mainstream, were anxious to move on.

"I always felt that our nation, once we got beyond all the counts, recounts -- five different counts or whatever it was, revotes --would be anxious to seek a higher ground," Mr. Bush told this reporter. "That there is such a goodness about America, that that would enable me and others who are there for the right reasons in Washington -- Republicans and Democrats, by the way -- to prove the skeptics wrong. To seize upon the inherent spirit of America and move forward.

"And so, in kind of an interesting way," the president said, "the house divided turned out to be an opportunity to unite."

Even liberal Democrats like Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts affirmed Mr. Bush´s legitimacy and marveled at his success in restoring civility to Washington. They likened the new Bush era to the days when President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O´Neill enjoyed a close personal friendship even while disagreeing over public policy.

"I believe that there´s a spirit, a positive, can-do spirit that is now beginning to take hold in the nation´s capital," Mr. Bush said in the interview. "I believe we can have an honest discussion on issues, and an honest disagreement, without name-calling and finger-pointing and needless divisive rhetoric, which discourages people around the country. I´m so pleased with the progress being made -- not for my sake, but for the sake of our country."

The Florida ordeal served to strengthen the new administration, not weaken it. The press, which had predicted Mr. Bush and his vice president, Richard B. Cheney, would get off to a shaky start, once again was proven wrong.

"It´s been a hell of a ride," Mr. Cheney told this reporter, sitting in the ornate office where Mr. Gore had delivered his concession speech. "Who could have scripted something like that? Nobody could."

Mr. Bush was equally philosophical about the 36-day ordeal.

"I was in an interesting perspective," he said. "I had just finished running the ultimate political marathon and was coming down, kind of adjusting from a grueling process.

"There were moments during the period of time that I wished it would have ended," the president confided. "But that´s just not the way it worked out. And I´m a more patient person for it, by the way. Really."

Maybe we all are.</div></div>