Gore and Dope: A Chatterbox Exclusive

WASHINGTON–A forthcoming biography of Vice President and presidential hopeful Al Gore challenges yet another key assertion by the Gore campaign about the candidate’s former marijuana use.

As previously reported by DRCNet, Salon, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the new book, by Newsweek staffer Bill Turque, suggests that Gore’s youthful marijuana use was more extensive than the candidate has alleged since 1987, when he first admitted having experimented with the illegal drug. The allegation comes from John Warnecke, a former neighbor of Gore’s in Nashville. Gore has denied Warnecke’s account, and the reliability of Warnecke’s story may be questionable because he is, according to the Post, “a recovering alcoholic” who “has voluntarily been hospitalized for depression a number of times” and is “now living on disability.”

But Chatterbox has learned from another source that Gore may not have been truthful when he made the separate claim that he “never got high enough to get the munchies,” as he told CNN’s Larry King in 1996.

Hazel Grizzleslope, a retired bagger for the Piggly Wiggly grocery in Murfreesboro, Tenn., said that she spotted Mr. Gore in the store on Dec. 16, 1972, purchasing 17 bags of Doritos and three boxes of Hostess cupcakes.

One of the cupcake boxes was already opened when it arrived at the counter, Ms. Grizzleslope said, and the icing was missing from one of the cupcakes. Mr. Gore’s mouth, she said, was smeared with a substance that may have been chocolate.

“A little piece fell onto the cash register,” Ms. Grizzeslope recalled yesterday. “Ah wish t’heck ah’d thought to scoop it up and taste it. Ah just didn’t realize how important it would be 28 years later.”

Although Ms. Grizzleslope during the 1980s had several painful bouts of toenail fungus, she insisted that this had not affected her powers of recollection. Buford Elso, a corporate spokesman for Piggly Wiggly, said he thought it doubtful the company would still have a copy of the receipt this long after the purchase. “Heck, in those days, we didn’t even have computerized cash registers,” Elso said.

The Gore campaign, flush with its victory in the Iowa caucuses, moved swiftly to deny the latest allegation. In a statement released this morning, the candidate said, “I told Larry King that I never got the munchies. I never said that I didn’t work up a powerful appetite doing other things, like playing basketball or memorizing passages from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

A few hours later, the Gore campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., made available for inspection by reporters a battered paperback copy of Thomas Kuhn’s landmark book with a dark stain in the margin beside the underlined sentence, “One final example of scientific discovery, that of the Leyden jar, belongs to a class that may be described as theory-induced.”

A Gore spokesman said that the stain “may be chocolate, and may have been made on the evening Ms. Grizzleslope describes.” But the spokesman said the campaign had not yet formulated a response to candidate Bill Bradley’s challenge that Gore submit the paperback to an independent lab for testing.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Burton, in an appearance on Good Morning, America, said he had sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno urging her to have the FBI seize the Kuhn paperback immediately so it can be examined by its own labs. If she fails to respond, he said, “the House will have no choice but to call for the vice president’s impeachment.” Mr. Burton said he was flying to Murfreesboro tonight to meet with Ms. Grizzleslope, and that he will begin hearings of his own on the matter next week.