A Gore Tells the Truth about the U.S.
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Tue Aug 15 20:58:33 MDT 2000
Gore identifies new rogue state
Special report: the US elections
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
The Guardian (UK)
Tuesday August 15, 2000
Gore won a standing ovation as the Democratic convention kicked off by
telling a delighted audience that the United States had become "the greatest
terrorist and the largest rogue state" in the world. He was also applauded
loudly after announcing that today "only corporate America enjoys
This was Gore Vidal, it should be said, former Democratic politician,
novelist, playwright, historian, mischief-maker and cousin of young Al. He
was addressing a full house at the Leo Baeck temple just opposite that
symbol of corporate authority, the Getty Centre, as the delegates assembled
for the first day of the convention.
Vidal lamented that "50 years ago I used to be the only Gore" and used his
presentation to a "town hall" meeting organised by the magazine the Nation
to urge whoever was the next president to use his entire first term of
office to "tame the American military". He attacked the Pentagon as a major
reason for the collapse of the democratic system in the United States and
for the waste of public money.
"Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcers," Vidal
said. "Our empire is now the greatest terrorist of all."
He said that since the Soviet Union "unsportingly disbanded", the world's
1bn Muslims have been demonised as wild fanatics in order to justify the
continuation of military spending.
Since 1946, he said, $7.1 trillion had been spent on defence while national
debts totalled $3.6 trillion.
Vidal also attacked the American drug laws saying that "we started the damn
country" to get away from such restrictions and suggested that the founding
fathers had included many laudanum addicts. "Anything taken for joy is
against God's will," had become the justification for the drugs laws, he
People had forgotten the effects of prohibition, he said: "We have become
the United States of Amnesia." He accused the US of "swaggering round the
world smashing countries like Colombia" and finished his address to a
standing ovation and cries of "run, Gore, run!" from the audience.
Tom Hayden, now a Californian senator but arrested at the 1968 Democratic
convention in Chicago during the anti-war demonstrations, voiced his support
for the thousands who have already taken to the streets of Los Angeles in
some of the rolling demonstrations taking place during the week.
"The Democratic party should not try and stigmatise the people who raised
hell in Seattle and gave birth to a new generation of radicalism," said Mr
"More and more people are feeling that there is no other way than to get out
on the streets. It is a great blessing instead of a danger to the city of
Los Angeles. Everyone in this room was someone real and vibrant before they
Jesse Jackson Jr, 35, congressman and delegate at the convention, said that
people now believed that they had a right to a gun but not a right to a
proper education. A few miles away his father addressed a rally outside
Loews hotel in Santa Monica to call for union rights for the hotel workers
The gatherings were just two of dozens due to be held this week by those who
suggest that the real issues are not being addressed by the convention. The
first of the major demonstrations, in support of the journalist and former
Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal who has been on death row in Pennsylvania
since 1981, took place on Sunday as did a large picket of Gap. There were
protests yesterday to support abortion rights and highlight "corporate
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