Stahl: Make your best case. You're talking to the American people tonight. Make your best case for why you should go on with recounts, assuming these court decisions do go against you and you want to proceed. What's your best argument.NEXT: "60 MINUTES" DIVA-STYLE (Cont'd)
Gore: Well, it's not a recount. We want a first count. Calling a machine's refusal to count legally cast ballots a "count" is like calling "bald" a hair color. I think we all know, to a scientific certainty, that more Floridians went to the polls to vote for me than for the Village Idiot. The exit polls reflect that truth, as do all the affidavits submitted by voters, and those voters are going to remember how badly they were screwed the next time they vote. What I don't think we all knew was how utterly FUBAR the election processes in Florida would actually be. That is the real story here--how Americans can go to vote, and have that vote ignored and marginalized.
Stahl: You make it sound like they never were counted. They did go through the machine count and came up as no vote. That doesn't mean they didn't go through the process.
Gore: The process? You mean the process of using outdated, discredited technology that, in its own patent papers, admits the necessity of a hand count? And then refusing to perform that hand count? That process?
Stahl: You don't know that. There could have been votes that weren't cast.
Gore: Yes, that is true. And I'm sure the fact that there are more under-votes where punch cards are used than where optical scan technology is used is just one of those "things." But I have to tell you, I am more than a little concerned that these "coincidences" always seem to adversely affect minorities, the elderly and the poor in this country, particularly in the South. Look at Washington, D.C., which also has a heavily minority voter base. Only 1 in 50 of those ballots were under-votes. And yet, in Florida counties using punch card technology, the number is closer to 1 in 3 in some precincts. You call it a coincidence, I call it an outrage.
Stahl: Let's say you get the count or the recount, whatever you want to call it. Let's say you come out the winner. Do you think that George W. Bush will say, 'Okay, I lost, bye-bye, I concede' as simply as that?
Gore: No. For two years now the Republican Party has been insisting it will do whatever it takes to win. They even nominated a houseplant for the presidency, just because his daddy's buddies would pony up cash by the truckload to get Junior a job. You think they're going to stop now? Do you think they would stop if I was ten million votes ahead, instead of just 350,000? These are seriously irrational people. Don't underestimate how far they will go to interfere with the peoples' will.
Stahl: Don't you think the Republicans are going to say you stole it? Just yesterday their lawyer in court said you want three times up at bat. Other Republicans have actually said you're trying to steal this election. You don't really think that they're going to go quietly?
Gore: Leslie, do you read the news? Ever? A week before the election, the Bush campaign made it perfectly clear that they were going to question my legitimacy and accuse me of thievery, even if I won the electoral college, and lost the popular vote. No matter how the American people voted, the GOP had a strategy to attack the outcome. What you are seeing is a well-orchestrated plan, based on the time-honored axiom, "The best defense is a good offense." What you are seeing in their arguments is projection and misdirection.
Stahl: You're not really reaching the public with this argument. You have been making it over and over. Every vote has to be counted. There is more a sense that you're asking to change the rules of the game. Can you go on if you lose the public?
Gore: The same public that chose me over the ficus in the first place? I'm not losing them. Even if this election is taken from me, the people still know which side their bread is buttered on. And if they don't, they sure as hell will after four years of GOP-controlled government.
Stahl: But it's slipping.
Gore: Can you blame them? Day after day, night after night, they are asked slanted questions, questions designed to "lead the witness." Questions like "Is Al Gore dragging this out too long?" How objective. What kind of response do you think you would get if you asked people, "Is George W. Bush winning on a technicality after having lost the popular vote?" Or how about, "Do you think it is a coincidence that George Bush's brother is the Governor of the contested state?" Ask a slanted question, get a slanted answer.
Stahl: I'm going to quote something you said along these lines because you've been saying these same things over and over and over.
Gore: Go for it. Hit me with your best shot, Leslie. (Continued)