Shockingly and horrifyingly (to some), Al Gore III was arrested last night in Orange County. The former vice president’s son was pulled over after barreling down the highway at 100 + mph. Supposedly the police officer “smelled” drugs, so he searched the car and found painkillers, stimulants, and tranquilizers.
What a fantastic break for the anti-environment corporations (i.e., nearly all corporations) and perhaps for the smear-happy Republicans in general. I can only imagine where their commercials will go if Gore decides to run for president:
- “Global warming is a hoax… Al Gore is no more an expert on the environment than he is on parenting.”
- “Al Gore cannot even help his own child win the ‘War on Drugs.’ Why should we trust him to help America win the ‘War on Terror?’
Let’s backtrack a minute, before we decide to frame this issue as a partisan one. After all, this rather minor incident reminds me of the Bushes’ woes in recent years, as no political family this century has been more scrutinized in the press for its lawlessness. In 2005, the youngest son of Florida governor Jeb Bush, John Ellis Bush, was arrested for public intoxication; this, just three year’s after Jeb’s daughter, Noelle Bush, was arrested and sent to rehab after trying to fill a phony Xanax prescription. And of course, both daughters of President George W. Bush have been arrested for violations related to underaged drinking, including using a fake ID. Indeed, although I find their politics abominable, I’ve always felt the Bush troupe would be fun to party with, unlike most political families. (This last sentence can be read as either a compliment or an insult, depending on your age and how uptight you are).
Sharp readers will notice how I’ve manage to weave a story that broke as bad news for Al Gore supporters into yet another session of pot shots against the Bush family. Butthat’s really not where I’m going with this; there is no shortage of old-school headlines about the dirty laundry on Capitol Hill for anyone who wants to do the digging, making botched parenting a nonpartisan issue. But since I’m not a tabloid writer or paparazzi photographer, I’ll pose a stupid question that is asked to frequently:
What is it about politicians’ kids? Do they just suck more than the typical human being at obeying the laws of their parents? Or is it that presidents and congresspersons don’t practice in private what they preach in public?
Often we ordinary citizens pose such questions while adorning ourselves in angel costumes. Still, we hear of these scandals and we shudder judgmentally; this is one of the few instances where the rich and famous have it much worse than ordinary citizens. The truth (for those of us not yet old enough to hypocritically rewrite our own teenage histories) is that owning a fake ID is not as rare and deviant as the press makes it out to be when celebrity teens get nabbed for having them.
Public intox.? What is that? According to the law you can’t be drunk in public. With the legal limit set at 0.08 in most states, and “in public” defined as anywhere outside of a building, this is a bullshit rule if there ever was one. Taking this law seriously would put every bar in the country out of business, because they’d have to breathalyze patrons before letting them walk out the door and. For regular-sized people, two drinks in one hour equals being legally drunk. That means, if you have two drinks in an hour, you are not allowed to go outside. In some areas, you’re more likely to get cuffed and stuffed waiting for a cab on the sidewalk than if you’d snuck to your car, crossed your fingers and drunkenly swerved home.
These laws are impractical, even foolish. That’s why they’re only enforced when doing so will cause a big splash. Most bouncers and liquor store clerks don’t call the cops when if notice that your driver’s license is counterfeit; they slip in their pockets and tell you to buzz off. Most police officers don’t arrest intoxicated citizens who are responsibly waiting for taxis on public street corners, no matter how obnoxious you’re being. As for the officer who arrested Gore, I understand that he says he caught a whiff of marijuana. But more likely, what the cop smelled was a high-profile bust, back-pats at the precinct, and fifteen seconds in the national spotlight.