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Al Qaeda doesn't care who's in the White House
December 9, 2010 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Five (sometime) novelists imagine what the Gore administration would have been.
posted by Sticherbeast (41 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have nightmares where he gets elected, dies of an aneurysm at his swearing-in, and we have eight years of President Lieberman.
posted by mullingitover at 9:45 AM on December 9, 2010 [7 favorites]



I have nightmares where he gets elected, dies of an aneurysm at his swearing-in, and we have eight years of President Lieberman.


Oh god I've been to that alternate universe and it's nothing but flesh-eating owls by 2012, seriously.
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on December 9, 2010 [28 favorites]


It would have been a bunch of Liberals complaining that Bush would have been exactly the same, and that whatever it was that Gore was doing didn't go far enough/wasn't good enough, then there would be a bit of a slide towards the Republicans at the midterms and they'd declare him the worst president of all time.
posted by Artw at 9:50 AM on December 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


mr. magic bullet gets nicked. heh
posted by clavdivs at 9:51 AM on December 9, 2010


These were honestly painful to read. I don't want "novelists" to imagine every beyond-West Wing-ridiulous fantasy of every possible bad thing happening at once, because it's honestly less interesting than someone who knows what the fuck they're talking about proposing something realistic... "boring" as that might be.

if Gore won, 9/11 might still have happened. At the very least a functioning al-Qaeda would have existed if 9/11 was stopped because that probably would have staved an invasion of Afghanistan. Hurricane Katrina, naturally, would have still happened no matter who won. So why not realistically talk about how a President Gore would have handled those two very real and very serious situations? That's interesting. Wondering "hey what if Al Gore won AND 9/11 was really 9/10 AND a plane hit the White House too AND fuck it let's just say aliens invade" isn't. It really isn't. It's stupid.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure I find SuperPresident Romney entirely plausible.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2010


Also, start by pointing out that if Gore one, there would be DRASTICALLY different first year policies prior to any 9/11 attacks because Joe Lieberman would have become vice president, making the then-Republican governor of Connecticut appoint a Republican replacement, keeping the Senate in 51-49 GOP hands and removing anything related to power-sharing or the Jim Jeffords stuff.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:54 AM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hurricane Katrina, naturally, would have still happened no matter who won.

Chaos theory says probably not, actually, and even if the hurricane itself happened, one might presume that the response would have been better.
posted by jedicus at 9:55 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


How things are going in the Parallel Universe
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


he liked Eliot Spitzer, though the New York governor seemed not to know how to have fun. Hillary’s divorce from Bill was becoming an issue. There had never been a woman in the White House, much less a single woman. That she was dating Dennis Kucinich was also a problem. The Republican candidate would certainly be Jeb Bush, now that George W. had joined a Buddhist monastery in California and taken Leonard Cohen as his guru.

My my how wacky I am thoroughly amused by the wackiness

Verisimilitude is for sissies
posted by ook at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2010


I gasped when I looked up and saw the republorcs retreating, for towering above the us was Trotter One, the president's magical, genetically engineer horsicorn! "Edledhia sed anuntethil nomon!" He cried out to the retreating form of my attackers!

"Mr. President!" I exclaimed.

He smiled in a way that was both commanding and demure. "Please, just call me Al", he said and extended a powerful yet well-manicured hand. He helped me onto his mystical steed and as I grasped his waist for support, my heart quickened. He smelled like fresh rain; mountains and renewable energy.
posted by boo_radley at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Those two pages are more Beckian fiction than I've ever previously consumed. Dear Lord, what a hack.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh god I've been to that alternate universe and it's nothing but flesh-eating owls by 2012, seriously.
posted by The Whelk


Flesh-eating owls PILOTING ZEPPELINS.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Regardless of one's politics, you have to admit this is full of win.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Glenn Beck is a sometime novelist? Glenn "there's clearly no way that I'm sitting behind a typewriter or word program and pounding this out" Beck?
posted by kipmanley at 10:04 AM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think we need to take into account Mr. Gore's breadth of skill and knowledge re: riding the mighty moon worm.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2010


I soured of this kind of thing when I read "Fatherland". It can be interesting to explore "what if" scenarios, but there are so many unseen variables that it most often is just an exploration of a particular writer's biases, if not outright masturbation.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2010


Glenn Beck? Seriously? Is there lots of crying and gold holding?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:13 AM on December 9, 2010


If Al Gore had been elected President he might never have appeared on Futurama, and that's a world too horrible to imagine.
posted by Zozo at 10:18 AM on December 9, 2010


Albert Gore got out of bed and stretched. He opened his great jaws wide, yawned, then popped that one spot in his back that always gave him trouble. With a satisfying "tock!" noise, it went back into place, and he smiled. It was March of 2001, and he felt good. DAMN good.

"Hey Tipper!" said Gore. "Watch this!" He balled up a newspaper, tossed it toward the wastebasket, and grinned even more broadly as it sailed into the empty receptacle. As it hit the bottom of the metal wastebasket, it made a small, muffled clanking noise. "BOO YEAH, BABYCAKES!" shouted Gore. "YOU THINK BILL BRADLEY COULD DO THAT?"

Tipper smiled. Her hair was disheveled, and she still had sleep-crusties in the corner of her eyes. "Oh, Al," she said. "You do love free-throws, don't you?"

Al Gore nodded, grinning. "I do!" he said. "I do love free throws!" Tipper rolled over and went back to sleep.

Al Gore showered, dressed, and walked out to the driveway. There, he practiced some free throws. SWOOSH, went each ball as it sailed perfectly through the net. Again and again, his free throws evinced perfect form, sailing into the basket like they were being guided by an invisible pair of Botticelli cherubs. Gore pumped his fist. He was happy.

"Ahem!" came a voice from behind him. Gore turned around, and there, at the foot of his driveway, was Osama Bin Laden. The baddest terrorist in all the world.

"Shit!" said Gore. "I was just practicing some free throws! What are YOU doing HERE?"

Bin Laden opened his robe, displaying a large and menacing-looking vest adorned with explosives. "Does this answer your question, Mister President? I'm here to instill a sense of terror in your populace. Weakened by their own fear, they will quickly turn to their basest authoritarian impulses, and your society shall become brittle, inflexible, and constantly-paranoid!"

"Ah, shit," said Gore. "That sounds like a bad time. I was just practicing some free throws."

"I noticed," said Bin Laden.

"You wanna join me? Like, instead of the terror thing?"

Bin Laden thought carefully. On the one hand, he had a plan... but on the other hand, maybe shooting some free throws would be an EVEN BETTER plan.

"Sure," said Bin Laden, unbuckling his explosive vest. "Let's shoot some free throws. Is there somewhere I can put this vest?"

"Just leave it there, at the end of the driveway," said Gore. "Unless you're worried about it getting dirty."

"Eh," said Bin Laden. "It's already got like WD-40 and stuff on it. A little gravel ain't gonna make it worse."

"Okay," said Gore, and passed the ball to Bin Laden. "Take a shot, man!"

Bin Laden carefully stared at the hoop, and tossed the ball toward it. It hit the rim, balanced there for a second... then fell off to the side, bouncing off the driveway and into the bushes. Gore trotted after it, shouting, "Good try! Good try!" Osama Bin Laden put his hands on his hips, chuckled, and shook his head. "Shit, man," he said, "I am OUT OF practice." Gore passed him the ball again.

"This time," said Gore, "I want you to really BELIEVE in yourself."

Bin Laden focused. He stared up at the basket. He tossed the ball, prayed to Allah...

and it went SWOOSH!, straight through the hoop!

"Ha ha ha, all right, all right!" said Bin Laden. Gore smiled. "This is better than terrorism, huh," he said to his beturbaned new friend. Bin Laden shrugged and smiled.

All day, they shot free throws. Finally, it was dusk, and they were chilly. Gore invited Bin Laden inside, where his personal chef was making spaghetti. "Does the spaghetti have shellfish or pork in the sauce?" asked Bin Laden. "I can't eat those."

"No," said Gore. "It's got mushrooms, though. How do you feel about mushrooms?"

Bin Laden smiled. "I am pro-mushroom!" he said.

"Great!" said Gore. They sat in front of the TV, eating spaghetti, and watching Friends. Tipper walked in, holding her own plate of spaghetti. "Hey," she said to Bin Laden. "Can you believe this show is still on?" Bin Laden shook his head. "I think they're out of ideas, really," he said.

Meanwhile, Albert Gore was only pretending to watch Friends. He was thinking about free throws.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:22 AM on December 9, 2010 [75 favorites]


Here is my favorite parallel world — you only find out the Gore aspect obliquely, later on.
posted by adipocere at 10:32 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I remember reading an alt-history book, written by actual historians, most of 'em fairly right-wing (which I didn't know at the time I picked it up) written back in about 2003. It went through a lot of older historical events, then had 'Gore wins Florida'. Hilariously it was all 'that quiche eating green-loving liberal had a really weak response to 9/11 and failed to catch Bin-Laden because he didn't send enough troops and didn't even do anything about Iraq, and boy aren't we lucky that we got GWB, because HE sure dealt with these problems'.

I sometimes wonder how that guy feels now...
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I stopped as soon as I saw Beck as an "author". Suspension of disbelief, destroyed.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:53 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder how that guy feels now...

Vindicated, in some way or another that would make you smack your head on your desk if they explained it to you.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on December 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


What the Gore administration would have been?

A seemingly non-stop cacophony of bullshit from the right wing media, for starters.
posted by Relay at 10:59 AM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'm trying to find a link to an alt-history-Gore-Won fiction piece that ran in the New Yorker. GWB lives in a trailer park, Dick is running around with Rumsfield and bitching about how it's unfair he's getting sued for shooting a lawyer in the face, and they are trying to get a time machine working to go back and fix it. Seem to recall it was funny and sad at the same time.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:09 AM on December 9, 2010


This stuff is such shit writing that it makes me physically yearn for Kirk/Spock slash.
posted by GuyZero at 11:30 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


First few months of a Gore administration: pretty boring. A few vague steps are made to address the dot com crash but are mostly ineffective. The nation lumbers through the boredom of peace and semi-prosperity.

Late August 2001: The FBI raids flight schools and private residences in Florida. Around a dozen Arab men are taken into custody. The nascent liberal blogging community complains about how Gore is selling out and being as racist / paranoid as the Republicans. The Arab-American community holds a few scattered protests. The public and the media collectively says "huh?" and forgets about it.

Early September 2002 - just as the midterm races start to heat up: Seymour Hersh's article "The Secret War in Afghanistan" is published in the New Yorker. This reveals that American special forces operated in Afghanistan from September of 2001 until the summer, and that they have possibly assassinated Osama Bin Laden, who has not issued any messages since the early spring. The now growing liberal blogging community continues the accusations of racism, paranoia, and yells "We shoulda voted for Nader! Or even Bush! If we're going to have a 'Republican' president, we might as well have voted for the guy who took a dim view of open ended foreign entanglements. Fuck Lieberman! He's behind this."

The Republican Party issued a cautious statement supporting the troops while accusing the president of involving the US in half-cocked military adventurism for no real gain to the country. John McCain is particularly outspoken. "Vietnam should have taught us not to pursue an conflict where the United States might be embroiled for years with little to no gain and with no sense of victory."

The press and the public says "What!?" at first, and then "huh?", and then forgets all about it after new headlines come out about an increase in shark attacks on young white women. Democrats buck the usual trend and make slight gains in Congress because of the quick recovery from the brief recession and because of their promises to increase funding for anti-shark defenses for our nation's beaches. The nation somehow survives the continuing ennui brought about by semi-peace and semi-prosperity.
posted by honestcoyote at 11:40 AM on December 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


If Gore winning the election would have saved us from his guest-spots on Futurama and Simpsons, well then.... I'm not too sure how I would feel about that.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:50 AM on December 9, 2010


if Gore won, 9/11 might still have happened. At the very least a functioning al-Qaeda would have existed if 9/11 was stopped because that probably would have staved an invasion of Afghanistan.

I'm basing this on Richard Clarke and not much else, but if Gore continued Clinton's Al Qaeda policy, they might not have been functioning very well.
posted by LionIndex at 11:59 AM on December 9, 2010


I'd like to read some alternate universe fiction about the world where Ralph Nader or Pat Robertson wins in 2000.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:02 PM on December 9, 2010


honestcoyote: stop, you're getting me all aroused at work, and that's not a good thing.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2010


One of the "novelists" herein is Glenn Beck. That's all I need to know.
posted by LMGM at 12:42 PM on December 9, 2010


The setting of actual novelist Ken Macleod's The Execution Channel includes Gore having won the 2000 election. The alternative history he depicts is somewhat different, but certainly not prettier or more peaceful.
posted by aught at 12:42 PM on December 9, 2010


If Gore had won, he'd have caught Gary Condit for sure.
posted by steambadger at 12:58 PM on December 9, 2010


If Al Gore had been elected President he might never have appeared on Futurama, and that's a world too horrible to imagine.

If Gore winning the election would have saved us from his guest-spots on Futurama and Simpsons, well then.... I'm not too sure how I would feel about that.

Actually, his first Futurama appearance was in May 2000, and thus came when he was still the VP and about 6 months before the election (and, what, 7 before he actually lost?). I'm guessing his later appearances probably wouldn't have happened if he'd won, though.
posted by Copronymus at 1:10 PM on December 9, 2010


I believe a President Gore would have prevented the 9/11 attacks. During Zacarias Moussaoui's trial the Bush administration claimed that they would have prevented the attacks if he had told them about them. That's after the Bush administration blew off the outgoing Clinton administration's warnings about al Qaeda, they demoted Richard Clarke, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he was tired of hearing about terrorism, and President Bush responded to a PDB that said Bin Laden was determined to attack inside the United States by staying on vacation and telling his briefer he'd covered his ass. Gore would likely have continued Clinton's top-down focus on terrorism and prevented the attacks.

He wouldn't have prevented Hurricane Katrina, but the response would not have been the shameful debacle it was under Bush. When Clinton was president FEMA was a well-run agency that responded effectively to several hurricanes.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:15 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Had Gore become president, we likely wouldn't have experienced this quality poetry. That is a sad reality I dare not fathom.
However, the South Park boys likely would have delivered something even more tremendous than Man-Bear-Pig.
posted by cleancut at 6:54 PM on December 9, 2010


I had to plough through my dusty old trail of favorites, then fire up the 'ol wayback machine to find this:

What if George W. Bush had been elected President?
posted by gamera at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hurricane Katrina, naturally, would have still happened no matter who won.

Chaos theory says probably not, actually, and even if the hurricane itself happened, one might presume that the response would have been better.

Chaos theory says no such thing, jedicus. You're thinking of that godawful movie, The Butterfly Effect.

I know: maths is hard.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:32 AM on December 10, 2010


Something something mass of hot air from DC something something weather patterns
posted by ook at 6:43 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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