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Al Gore (yawn)


The two major party presidential candidates agreed that Americans are seeing too much inappropriate material in popular entertainment. The Republican candidate, Governor George W. Bush, stated that there is too much bloody violence in the movies and on television. Vice President Al Gore, his Democratic opponent, stated that the media presents Americans with too much sex and frontal nudity. In other words, Bush says there is too much gore and Gore says there is too much bush.

Al Gore sought a speedy hand recount of Florida's contested ballots to ensure ''no question, no cloud'' hangs over the nation's 43rd president. A judge rejected his timetable, Democratic lawyers vowed to appeal and Republicans demanded, ''It's time to wrap this up.''

As the campaign played out in five separate courtrooms, the vice president sought to accelerate the proceedings to avoid further testing of the public's patience three weeks after Election Day. ''Seven days, starting tomorrow, for a full and accurate count of all the votes,'' the vice president said shortly after his lawyers asked Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls to order the recount of 13,000 questionable ballots in two Democratic counties. The judge instead scheduled a Saturday hearing and ordered the ballots - along with one or two voting machines - sent to Tallahassee in case he agrees that a recount is needed. Bush's lawyers objected to Gore's timetable, saying they needed time to prepare their case against him.

Gore's advisers were disappointed by the ruling, believing Gore needs good news from the courts in the next two or three days to keep public opinion from turning heavily against him. According to senior legal advisers, Gore lawyers were looking ''at all legal options'' to find the quickest way to get a favorable court ruling, including going directly to the state Supreme Court. Sauls is working against a Dec. 12 deadline for states to assign presidential electors. ''We could count until everybody is slap-happy, but if no one is on the same page, I don't know what's being accomplished,'' Sauls said, explaining why he wanted one broad-ranging hearing before considering Gore's recount request.

The political morass stretched to the U.S. Supreme Court, with Bush's lawyers asking the nine justices to bring ''legal finality'' to the election by overturning Florida's top court and ending any further recounts. The case has the ''potential to change the outcome of the presidential election in Florida, and thus the nation,'' Bush lawyers said in legal papers. Gore's legal team argued in its high court brief that the issue ''does not belong in federal court.'' They want the justices to back the Florida Supreme Court, a Democratic-leaning body that extended the deadline for recounts. U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments are set for Friday. The vice president made his case for the second day in a row for further recounts, announcing the shift in legal strategy during a brief exchange with reporters in Washington.

''What is wrong with counting the votes?'' Gore asked. Bush's team quickly noted that the southern Florida ballots had already been tabulated by machine. ''He proposes yet another count and another deadline,'' Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said in Austin, Texas. ''Common sense does not allow it.'' GOP vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, appearing on NBC, said he believes ''that it's time to wrap this up. That we've had the election, we've had the count, we've had the recount. Now we've had the certification of George W. Bush as winner in Florida, and, therefore, the winner of the presidential election. And to stretch it out, as Vice President Gore is doing ... is really unprecedented and it's going to create some problems.'' Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a Bush partisan, certified the Texas governor's 537-vote victory Sunday. If the totals stand, Bush would be awarded the state's 25 electors, putting him a single vote over the 270 electoral votes required to win the presidency.

With their presidential dreams at stake, the fierce public relations campaign roared onward: Democrats scoured the courts for a quick legal victory to bolster Gore's sagging public opinion polls; Republicans tried to shut down the far-flung legal machinations while Bush was still ahead. An NBC poll showed the country divided. With a fraction of those polled having watched Gore's Monday night plea for patience, half said he should concede and half said he should fight. The country was equally split on who should be the next president.

Though Democratic leaders remained firmly in Gore's corner, there was talk that the election needed to be settled. ''The time has come for this to come to a close,'' Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., said in statement that mentioned neither Bush nor Gore. An aide, Grace Robinson, later said Cramer ''does not think that Gore should concede at this point.'' A number of Gore advisers privately expressed fears that the public will soon grow weary of the political drama unless an end is in sight. Gore's speedy hearing proposal was designed to buy his lawyers time. ''We're very mindful of what's good for the country and we certainly don't want this to go on for very long,'' Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman told CBS. A bare majority of those polled by NBC said Bush jumped the gun by declaring victory and plunging into his presidential transition, but that didn't stop the Texan from moving ahead. He was heading to his ranch late Tuesday, where aides said he was likely to meet in seclusion with some candidates for the presumptive Bush cabinet. Cheney was joining him Thursday or Friday.

President Clinton's staff offered to organize daily security briefings for Bush so he'll be ready to serve if Gore's protests fail. The Secret Service also proceeded with ''parallel'' transition operations - giving both the Democratic and Republican tickets the same training sessions, briefings, and help securing personal property for the move into the White House or vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory.

If you want some good the U.S. Constitution"

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