Where was this in 2000?

Al Gore won the 2000 election. Unfortunately, due to an antiquated and idiotic Electoral College, our Commander in Chimp for the last 5 years has not been Al Gore.

Collective wisdom has been that Al Gore seemed to be lacking in the all important "Who would you rather have beer with" area of the Presidential skill-set. The resulting presidency of George W. Bush has, however, taught us all the consequences of electing a man to be "The Leader of the Free World" based on the comfort you would feel with him at Joe's Bar & Grill for Monday Night Football.

Because presidential elections now function on the same principal as student council elections (vote for who's coolest!) we are bogged down in a war the international community abhors (and fewer and fewer Americans support), trillions in debt, destroying our own environment, kowtowing to the interests of large corporations, watching the gap between rich and poor grow at alarming rates and ignoring federal law at will, spying without warrants on our own citizens.

Buyer's remorse aside, Al Gore "lost" the 2000 election because nobody could detect any sort of personality belonging to the then-Vice President. His speech on MLK day left me wondering where THIS Al Gore was five years ago.

"As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress precisely to prevent such abuses. It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored in our country."

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. They recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him the power he wanted when this measure was passed, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between the President and the Congress."

And the Money Quote:

"A special counsel should be immediately appointed by the attorney general to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the president."

I ask again, where was this strong and impassioned Al Gore five years ago?

Republicans went into a tizzy, attacking anything that moved and lying about facts that were inconvenient. Scott McClellan accused (wrongly) the Clinton Administration of the same sort of wiretapping.

This wiretapping scandal is bigger than Plamegate. As more evidence comes out, awareness will begin to spread in the population. This isn't a partisan issue. There are a lot of Republicans out there that will find this troubling. THIS is the issue that's going to hurt Republicans in 2006 and 2008, especially if Democratic challengers can force GOP incumbents into taking a position on the President's illegal activity. Either way, for or against, it's bad for George W. Bush.

Bonus factoid:

The U.S. Government spent $7.2 Billion dollars to classify 15.6 million documents "secret" and keep them out of public view. Both figures are record highs. Incidently, that's $461.54 a document.

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