Posted Thursday, July 1, 2010, at 4:57 PM
Can anyone think of a less likely topic for us to be talking about than "Al Gore sex scandal"? I’m still wrapping my mind around that (and trying to banish the mental images). The boring, staid, and even uptight image that Gore projects makes this perhaps the most surprising political scandal in recent memory. (With most surreal going to Mark Sanford and least surprising going to John Edwards.)
I admit to a tendency toward skepticism when a woman expresses interest in a civil suit over a criminal case, as the woman now known to us as Molly Hagerty supposedly did back in 2006. As a long-ago victim of sexual assault, I am probably harder on women about this than is fair, not out of disrespect but because I know how important it is to get to the police and how delaying hurts one’s credibility and how not going at all just makes it easier for the perps. And I always try to be objective politically-not putting any more stock in claims that sully a Democrat over claims that sully a Republican. So I dismissed the idea at first. But then out comes the police report. And you read how Hagerty was told to treat "Mr. Stone" as a VIP, and you realize that, of course, her job is in jeopardy if she says anything.
Slate blogger Tom Scocca had a good post last week exposing the ugly defenses of Gore put up by commenters at Talking Points Memo, which included suggestions that Hagerty’s claim was "horse shit" and that Hagerty was a "media whore" and that Al Gore could just get himself some groupies if he wanted to, um, "release his chakra." Add to that depressing bit of commentary that Hagerty’s own friends discouraged her from reporting what happened to the police. The best line? One friend advised her "to just suck it up; otherwise, the world's going to be destroyed from global warming."
Emily Yoffe, I agree that we can look to Al Gore’s global warming hypocrisy is a source of insight into why he would risk his reputation over something like this. People who do good things often think they are more entitled. Ann Althouse has a post that also addresses this and makes a good point: "Generally, I think it's because he's done things like that before, many times, and gotten away with it. Why would he proceed in such a crude fashion? I would guess that his sensibilities have numbed over the years, as women acceded to his moves."
If that’s the case, I imagine that it’s only a matter of time before someone else steps forward. Even if Gore stuck to massage therapists who have incentives to keep quiet, all one has to do is look at the celebrity that Tiger Woods' conquests achieved, and one of them will venture a risk that the attention is worth the risk. If that happens, Gore really will have to cool his jets.
Photograph of Al Gore by Attila Kisbenedek/AFP.