America Needs a Gore News Channel

It’s one of those "only in America" stories sure to moisten every patriotic eye. A babe found wrapped in tobacco leaves, Moses in the Tennessee bulrushes, a disadvantaged lad if ever there was one, transformed, through will and conviction, into one of history’s great leaders. A boy who took up arms for his country, fought corruption as a young muckraker, studied divinity, preached righteousness to power in the Senate, railed against government waste as vice president, and almost won the bully pulpit, now begins his most ambitious program of uplift yet – a televised crusade against the demon right-wing media. This extravagant prose surpasses my wont, brothers and sisters, but with justice! For I present unto you the defender of misplaced faith, the scourge of Rupert Murdoch, the Left Reverend Albert Gore.

Yes, Al is back, and more undead than ever. He’s ready to deflate Limbaugh, spin a tornado up O’Reilly’s skirt, and, well, make sure that, uh, Democrats are heard. Which is important, because they really disagree with the Republicans. Really. For instance, when the president wrinkled his brow ever so slightly at Ariel Sharon’s contempt for the road map, the Dems issued this radical critique of America’s Israel policy:

"The darker reality is that were it not for the successful actions Israel takes in defense of its people, terrorism against them would increase tenfold. As Israel embarks on the difficult path to peace, it is essential that her efforts to quell acts of senseless terror have the full support of the United States."

Wow. Consider my paradigm shifted.

How will the Gore channel look? Like the sequined vamp’s dull twin sister, The New Republic to Fox’s Weekly Standard. I trust that few of my readers follow this analogy, since your time is far too precious to squander on The New Republic, whose best essays exude the wit of an autopsy report. So, let me elaborate a bit. When a "liberal" is in the White House, The Weekly Standard supports his every bombing campaign, but ridicules his lack of nerve. There are never enough casualties to please Bill Kristol. When a "conservative" is in the White House, The New Republic supports his every bombing campaign, but chides him for thinking small. They ask, without a trace of sarcasm, "Why stop at Iraq? Liberia needs us, too!" War, war, and more war: they may hate the sinner, but they love the sin. Thus, after running an unusually incisive piece called "The Selling of the Iraq War: The First Casualty," a rough draft for a Bush impeachment, TNR‘s editors rushed to assure us that the war itself was still justified. Backpedaling from the WMD casus belli, they invoke a moral imperative:

"In Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, and (unsuccessfully) Rwanda, TNR supported military action in cases of moral emergency. Clearly, Saddam’s ongoing crimes – which, we have argued in these pages, were worse than Slobodan Milosevic’s – met that standard."

Of course, one hears the exact same argument from neocons, which begs a simple question. Why is a Gore News Channel, TNR in pixels, necessary? What will it offer that Fox does not? Certainly not a fundamental reappraisal of U.S. foreign policy, the central issue of our time. For one thing, the man who rode shotgun on Clinton’s adventures in Somalia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan would be foolish to toss the term "war criminal" about casually. Brussels might be listening. More importantly, though, the center-left has no qualms about the mass destruction of lives and property. They may bicker with the center-right about the girth of this or that redwood, but both envision the same imperial forest.

So don’t expect much from a Gore News-Fox News dustup. Within a month, it will degenerate into a who-loves-Israel-more contest; the only interesting part will be betting on defectors. I pick Bill O’Reilly for first turncoat. His ego, not to mention his hatred of free enterprise and freedom of association, makes him an ideal partner for the Internet Edison.

As for a genuine alternative to Fox, even from the left, call me when Alex Cockburn gets his own channel. Until then, I’ll keep watching Murdoch’s beauty queens with the TV muted.