What do former U.S. Senators John Edwards, Gary Hart and Al Gore (the latter also former vice president) have in common? They all ran for president and they all lost. The Edwards and Hart campaigns were torpedoed by their philandering outside their marriages during their presidential bids. (Editor’s note: Former Monterey Park Mayor, Monty Manibog, is a regular columnist offering legal tips and perspectives in high profile legal cases and events)
However, former Vice President Al Gore’s sexual misadventures came long after his razor thin defeat by George W . Bush in the 2000 presidential election, the assault allegedly having been committed on October 23, 2006, on massage therapist Molly Hagerty in a Portland Oregon hotel room.
The Al Gore scandal was first reported in the National Enquirer in June 2010, the latest in a string of high profile sex scandals of recent years, including those of former governors Mark Sanford of South Carolina (who tripped on the Argentine tango), Elliot Spitzer of New York ( whose high priced call girls also sold out to the Enquirer) and James McGreevy of New Jersey (whose gay lover held a top post in the McGreevy cabinet post, all of whom were deemed presidential timbers felled by their admitted out of wedlock dalliances.
The Al Gore case, however, differs in that he enjoyed an exceptionally high stature and a decent image --- former senator, vice president, 40 year marriage (now in divorce court), champion crusader on the global warming issue, best selling author and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He is a man who could have been president and lost by a whisker in the 2000 presidential race, the results of which had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the sexual assault charges against Al Gore should be proven, whether by criminal or civil judgments, there would be a collective sigh of relief that he did not become president, avoiding another possible White House ”Lewinski gate”, unzipped zipper, stained blue dress and other such issues of the Clinton White House, and perhaps an impeachment process as experienced by President Bill Clinton.
However, in fairness to Al Gore and our justice system, the charges against him thus far are a “he says, she says” situation, and his innocence must remain a legal presumption. There are serious questions about Molly Hagerty’s story: why she withdrew the original police report and seeks to reinstate it four years later; why she revived her charges through the National Enquirer from which she received a tidy sum of money, and what happened during the four year interval of silence between the alleged assault date and the now well publicized sex scandal which made Enquirer headlines last month?
Credibility, indeed, will certainly be tested in the exceptionally high profile case about the “Man who almost became president.”