2000 U.S. presidential election
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“”Stanley: But, why Dwight?
Michael: Because, Dwight... never lies.
Stanley: How does that qualify him to run a branch?Michael: Because that's all it takes.
|—The Office, "The Coup"|
The 2000 U.S. presidential election was a
disaster highly controversial affair that was eventually decided by a 5-4 vote along ideological lines in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore. It ended with the proclamation of George W. Bush as the public representative of Dick Cheney, the real leader of the free world.
“”'We don't really care for this Will & Grace thing. And here's what we're going to do about it.'
The evangelical movement was growing in influence and things like the Lewinski Scandal fed into the right-wing resurgence. (it's possible millennial eschatology also played a part, but it's hard to find stats to bear that out.) Bush represented a unique synthesis of the country club set and the religious right.
Both of Bush's campaigns were well-done. Maybe not the most ethical, but damn did they do a good job. The only real competition was McCain and they dragged his name through the mud, but used other entities to do so (similar to what they did to Kerry in '04); that way, the Bush campaign could remain clean. They even did push-polls on it. "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" Which implied that his adopted Bangladeshi daughter was born out of wedlock. (Among South Carolinians too, Christ almighty.)
“”He didn't know anything, but dammit, he was sure about what he didn't know. He was John McClane, and Al Gore was Hans Gruber.
Gore was all about balancing the budget and spending down the deficit. He wanted to protect Social Security and Medicare while Bush was trying to privatize it, proposed tax credits on green energy and college tuition, and favored middle-class tax cuts that wouldn't disproportionately skew to the 1% of income earners like Bush's did.
Bush, no joke, ran on not being the world's policeman and using American power with humility. He wanted to remove US peacekeepers from Bosnia. Gore ran on a more interventionist/globalist platform. Another huge part of Bush's campaign was based on his claims of "compassionate conservatism", i.e. stronger social programs and less demonizing of minorities and the poor. At the same time, faith was a major part of his persona, so he locked up the religious vote. You can see where the "you can have a beer with him" stuff came from. Also Al Gore has the excitement of a turtle.
You can see more than a little of this in Trump's dumber answers. (Actually, his 2016 debates aren't anywhere as near as bad as Bush's.) The fact is, the American people don't hold it against you when you muddle through an obscure topic that they know little about either. While the media mocked him as A kid giving a book report about a book he didn't read, people across the country instead said, yerp, he's one of us. He was sort of a predecessor to both Palin and Trump, in that he was built to take every attack on himself and convert it into political fuel. He was risible by design. This Yale-attending scion of a blue-blood New England family wore a cowboy hat and made Crawford his 2nd White House to attract the scorn of non-Southerners. That's why liberals fumed and raved, they could never defeat him.
Coming down from the high of the Clinton '90s, many comparisons between Vice President Gore and the other guy were downplayed and likened to "Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee." While the media proceeded to do little to expose what in hindsight were pretty significant ideological differences between Bush and Gore, and even between Gore and Clinton, some hippy also ran, hijacking the millennial vote from Gore (and even poaching some votes from Bush).
8 years of general prosperity under Clinton, virtually no wars, deficits under control. Gore should have mopped the floor with Bush, and even if Gore wasn't the world's worst campaigner and Bush was one of the best (he wasn't), the American people still should have had some common sense. But instead they got exactly what they deserved: 2 huge recessions in 2001 and 2008, a war based on a lie killing hundreds of thousands and paid for with a credit card, and a natural disaster killing another 2000 people (largely due to poor leadership). That's just the 3 greatest hits.
The outcome in Florida, which was the state that ultimately determined the winner in the electoral college, took more than a month to be considered definitive. The initial count in Florida had Bush winning by less than 2000 votes, and triggered a recount. The rather clear voter disenfranchisement of minorities and the very shady pro-Bush decisions by his brother, the Governor of Florida at the time, contributed to the ultimate outcome. The Democrats in Florida were hardly innocent of such chicanery themselves, as they had spearheaded an effort to make it more difficult to count absentee ballots; this just happened to affect, among other groups, military voters, who consistently vote Republican.
However, it became clear, both for America and the entire rest of the world, that thousands of voters in Broward, Volusio, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties possessed the collective IQ of a sea cucumber. These voters evidently had no idea what the hell they were supposed to do in the voting booths, and did things to the ballots that defied any kind of logic. Several thousands of people were apparently intent on voting for two presidents, or just seemed interested in wholly or partially punching out random holes in their ballots to see what would happen; the answer, as it turned out, was a totally FUBAR result. Further adding to the confusion was the notorious "butterfly ballot" used in Palm Beach, where around three thousand people apparently managed to accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan because they couldn't be bothered to actually follow the arrows on their ballot. Palm Beach County happens to have one of the highest concentrations of Jewish people in the country (approximately 255,000, or around 20% of the county's total population), which made the number of votes for Buchanan especially improbable, given his open anti-Semitism.
In the midst of all this confusion, both parties flooded Florida with enormous amounts of people to engage in a near riot outside of the locked room where votes were being counted. The Republican Party, with Tom Delay at the helm, quickly developed a strategy of taking advantage of possibly the dumbest trial judge in the State of Florida, who consistently delayed ordering a recount of the multiple defective Florida election results. When the sharpest lawyers money could buy finagled Gore vs. Harris all the way to the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia led the Court into one of its most ignominious rulings in history, which was basically that since so much time had elapsed (chiefly due to Republican dilatory tactics, but also partially due to thousands of ballots being so horrifically mangled that from looking at them it was impossible to be certain what on fuckballs peoples' intentions were) and that there was no one state-wide process for a recount guaranteeing that every ballot would be counted in the same way (as all of these procedures were county-level and inconsistent with each other), they would not count the votes because there would have been too much of a rush to do so and no guarantee that they would all be counted the same way. The ruling also declared that it should not be considered precedent in any future case,
to guard against the possibility of a future Republican candidate having an election victory stolen from him in a similar manner because the circumstances were supposedly unique. When pressed on this matter, conservatives will typically point out that none of this would have happened if Gore could have simply won his home state; while true, this completely (and deliberately) misses the whole point.
Due to the circumstances surrounding the election, or the first several months of his presidency, some people (Michael Moore, for example) maintained that Bush was not the "legitimate" president, and that it was stolen by Bush, his brother Jeb, the Governor of Florida at the time, and Florida's Secretary of State in charge of the recount, Katherine Harris. The People's Weekly World went so far as to enclose the word "President" in scare quotes when referring to him. Such chatter mostly ceased when 9/11 and its aftermath gave these detractors a ready, large supply of valid reasons (with some exceptions on the validity part) to criticize Bush, such as concerns over civil rights violations.
Long story short
Dubya was well ahead for weeks until October, when he was considered the winner of many debates because he didn't actually shit himself off-camera (or if he did, his pants were of a stain-resistant material). Then a thin conservative majority in the Supreme Court will hand the Presidency over to the loser of the popular vote. Democracy!
Red state, Blue state
The 2000 election was also notable in that it was the origin of the color assignment of red to the Republican Party and blue to the Democratic Party on maps depicting who had carried what. This was largely by coincidence; it just so happened that red was given to Bush and Gore was given blue, and since this took so long to process, the color schemes stuck permanently in the public conscious. This arrangement runs counter to the tradition in other democratic nations, where the conservatives are given the color blue, and the socialists the color red, but us 'Muricans don't cotton to none'o that furrner nonsense. Besides, this arrangement gives sensible Americans an opportunity to proclaim "Better dead than red!"
Vote breakdown by education
||% with bachelor degrees|
|Gore||District of Columbia||44.2|
- 2004 U.S. presidential election
- 2008 U.S. presidential election
- 2012 U.S. presidential election
- 2016 U.S. presidential election
- Purple America
- Brett Kavanaugh, who had a hand in the election recount
- Roger Stone, who led the astroturf "Brooks Brothers riot" druing the recount
- Documents that Changed the World: ‘Hanging chads’ and butterfly ballots — Florida, 2000 Kelley, Peter. UW News. 03.14.16
- Taibbi, "Revenge of the Simple: How George W. Bush Gave Rise to Trump", Rolling Stone 1 March 2016.
- Or, as Futurama called it, "Jack Johnson and John Jackson."
- Stupid White Men, Chapter 1.
- Percent of People 25 Years and Over Who Have Completed a Bachelor's Degree
- The Supreme Court declared that Bush had won Florida, but there was no reliable tally of the popular vote and the decision was that Gore had no right to ask for a recount.