Secrets of Past Elections Revealed! (2000)


After every presidential election since 1984, Newsweek has printed the best gossipy stories, revealing all the whining and backbiting of America's greatest spectacle. Linda Rodriguez has gone through Newsweek's archives to pick out some memorable moments from recent elections. Today's topic is the endless election of 2000.

The 2000 election "“ the one that saw George W. Bush follow in his father's footsteps "“ didn't come to an official conclusion until December 12, 2000. Of course, everyone remembers that. But here are a few things you might not have known about the election that wouldn't end.

Just kidding

On the night of the election, former vice president Al Gore called George Bush to concede the hard-fought race, after several television networks had declared Bush the winner. But after Bush's lead in Florida shrunk to a mere 500 votes, with 99.5 percent of the precincts reporting, Gore called him back "“ to withdraw his concession. According to Newsweek, the conversation was somewhat tense: "Circumstances have changed dramatically since I first called you," Gore said. "The state of Florida is too close to call."

Bush: "Are you saying what I think you're saying? Let me make sure that I understand. You're calling back to retract that concession!"

Gore: "Don't get snippy about it!"

Hush up, Nader

Gore aides were so frustrated with Ralph Nader, whose presence in the race some believe cost Gore the election, that every time he appeared on television election night, a staffer would mute his voice.

New Age finds a new home

Al Gore's single most important advisor for at least part of the 2000 campaign was New Age guru and consummate feminist Naomi Wolf. Introduced to her through his daughter, Gore took Wolf's word as gospel. Wolf, for her part, told Gore that Americans felt betrayed by President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky and were ashamed that they had voted for him. Gore, influenced by Wolf, then told staffers that he was paying a "psychic penalty" for Clinton's indiscretions. For that tenuous bit of psychobabble, as well as advice on how to become the "alpha male" in the country, the campaign paid Wolf around $15,000 a month.

Keeping the Gore campaign afloat

Gore's image suffered from his limp television presence, his somewhat dull demeanor, and his seeming inability to make voters realize that he really cared about becoming the—that it wasn't simply the next rung on his career ladder. The Gore campaign's ham-fisted attempts to personalize the candidate weren't helping matters. In the run up to the New Hampshire primary, for example, the campaign organized a photo-op canoe trip on the state's Connecticut River. Unfortunately, they had two problems: The first was that the candidate couldn't seem to relax in the canoe. The second was that the press later found out that Gore's boat was floated by millions of gallons of water pumped in the river just for that purpose, in order to avoid any awkward moments and stuck canoes.

Sweating to the oldies?

According to Newsweek, Gore sweats. A lot. Like, more than the average human. Like so much that during debates with Bush, he demanded that the temperature in the hall be kept as low as possible. Bush, entering the debate hall one night, joked, "Who's got my parka?"

Bush on Oprah

It was Laura Bush who convinced George Bush to go on Oprah, a move that she thought would help the then-candidate show the American people the personable, funny person he was. It worked, and stalled a popularity nosedive in the polls. His appearance on Oprah—kissing the cheek of the most powerful woman in America "“ led to appearances on Regis, on Leno, and later on MSNBC to chat with Brian Williams.

Previously: 1988, 1984, 1992, 1996