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Ten years after Bush v. Gore, the fight goes on

Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 500,000. But it was the contentious recount in Florida – halted by the Supreme Court – that gave it to Bush. What that meant still is being argued.

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And the result, Toobin continues, is that the high court – headed by Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, who worked on Bush’s behalf in the Florida recount – has continued this kind of conservative activism, marked by its “willingness, even its eagerness, to overturn the work of legislatures.”

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For political junkies who appreciate the ironic and the fanciful, New York magazine has “Memories of the Gore Administration.” Written by “five (sometime) novelists” – Kurt Anderson, Kevin Baker, Glenn Beck, Jane Smiley, and Walter Kirn – it’s an imaginary look at the last ten years as if the 2000 election had gone the other way.

In this fictitious look back, 9/11 still happened (and Flight 93 did hit the White House, although Gore survived), and so did Katrina. (As FEMA director, Robert Gibbs does “a heckuva job.”) The US invades Afghanistan, but not Iraq. Hillary Clinton becomes vice president, replacing Joe Lieberman, who had resigned in protest over failure to be more confrontational with Iraq and Iran. (This was after Hillary Clinton had divorced Bill Clinton, who married Carla Bruni.) In the 2008 presidential election, Mitt Romney beats John Edwards, whose running mate is “all-around man-of-the-future Barack Obama.” Romney appoints Sarah Palin as Secretary of the Interior. And so on.

In this case, as it’s turned out, truth may indeed be stranger than fiction.

Footnote one: The Green Party will disagree, but it can be argued that Ralph Nader did to Gore what Ross Perot did to George H.W. Bush in 1992, that is, cost him the election. In Florida, Nader won 97,000 votes – many times more than Gore needed to win the state and the presidency without the hassle of a recount. But like the election itself, that debate will never be settled.

Footnote two: Bush v. Gore featured opposing attorneys who gained rock star status: David Boies for Gore and Theodore Olson for Bush. Today, Boies and Olson are working together on behalf of gay rights to overturn California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage.

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