Renaissance Frauds

"I'm Not a Doctor, But I Play One on TV"

Former Vice President Al Gore distinguished himself by a number of colorful claims, including his invention of the internet, his status as inspiration for the plot of Love Story, and his crime-busting investigations that pulled the covers off Love Canal and the villainy of both the internal-combustion engine and flush toilet. During last year's presidential campaign, we were treated to lurid tales of his dog's drinking and drug problems and his uncle's exposure to tear gas at the battle of Thermopylae. Surprisingly, he never mentioned his historic appearance at quarterback for the 1958 Detroit Lions. Surely Mr. Gore, Renaissance role model for our time and inspiration to Buddhist monks, ballot-recount scammers, and celebrity race-hustlers, would want us all to understand that he, not George Plimpton, got there first. In Gore's case, each of these grandstanding absurdities was clearly meant to wow gullible members of a particular constituency, including the techno-geeks of Silicon Valley, the literary crowd, and the save-the-schnauzer environmentalists. Why were Monday Night Football enthusiasts not reminded how, fuzzy-cheeked lad often, he came off the bench to relieve the alcohol-befuddled Bobby Layne, tossed the winning touchdown, and began to take shape as his own favorite hero? As outlandish as all this is—and who can tell what other preposterous assertions he may make before we hear the last of him—the...

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