The XX Factor

What Gore Was Thinking

Emily B. , Hanna , you have both described the very understandable reasons a middle-aged massage therapist does not go running into the hallway of a swank hotel screaming that her client, Mr. Stone, aka Al Gore, is sexually assaulting her. The police report vividly conveys her thinking that if she can just handle him right, she won’t have to “handle” him. Let’s assume this she-said is accurate-then how does the man who’s supposed to be saving the world end up in this tawdry hotel scene? I know it’s a cliché to taunt eco-minded celebrities who live in mansions and fly in private planes, but I think this basic hypocrisy may offers an insight into Gore.

He had to have long ago concluded there are different rules for the people whose little, wasteful lives are destroying the planet and the person whose mission it is to save it. While the rest of us are supposed to fret about our choice of light bulb, Gore must believe it’s actually more efficient for him to have a string of mansions where he can rejuvenate himself for the burdens he must carry. And since he’s rich he can take care of any personal indulgences with the modern indulgence of carbon offsets. So, there he was at the end of another long day, meeting draining people, lecturing them on how to live, and he needed to blow off some tension. It’s understandable he doesn’t want to bed groupies-they could want things like phone calls and attention. And he’s not going to cross the legal line by going to a pro. So the late-night massage is perfect. The masseuse is a woman whom you pay well to come to your room and rub your naked body, and if some special adductor work happens, all the better.

Almost exactly 10 years ago the great Marjorie Williams wrote a column about Gore’s legal troubles over possible fundraising violations while vice president. She quoted from his Justice Department interview about what a politician goes through to cultivate donors: “[I]t was very common to trigger the initial impulse and then it’s massaged. … I  pick up my schedule for that day and when I get to it, there it is, and it’s either a pleasant surprise or an unpleasant surprise.” Williams wrote presciently that Gore’s testimony paints a picture, “of the quotidian steps by which a man can deal away his reputation.”