Politics as usual: Al Gore sexual assault allegations

Police in Portland, Oregon are reopening a case in which Al Gore is alleged to have committed “unwanted sexual contact” against a masseuse. Tellingly, we have to go to conservative-slanting Fox News to get the most details of the story:

According to transcripts of the 2009 interview, the masseuse described the allegations at length. She said Gore groped, kissed and pinned her down on a bed. She told Gore he was acting like a “crazed sex poodle,” according to the transcript.

The woman said she felt there would be consequences if she didn’t cooperate.

“I feared that if I ran for the door to get out, I could or would be violently accosted by some security detail,” she said. “I felt certain that any, even the smallest complaint from him to the hotel, could also destroy my work reputation.”

While trying to pack up, she said Gore “wrapped me in an inescapable embrace,” looked her in the eyes and touched her back, buttocks and breasts. She said she asked Gore to stop several times.

“I finally told him and said, you’re being a crazed sex poodle, hoping he’d realize how weird he was being, yet he persisted,” she told Detective Molly Daul.

The woman said Gore’s “Mr. Smiley Global Warming” persona differed from his actions and made her afraid.

“I did not want to get hurt and I did not want to get raped,” she said.

She said Gore demanded she drink cognac, though she told him she doesn’t drink alcohol. She said Gore became enraged when she refused his advances.

As disturbing as this is, there’s something else equally troubling:

After the alleged incident, the woman said she was dissuaded from contacting the police by liberal friends of hers, whom she refers to as “The Birkenstock Tribe,” and of which she counts herself a member.

In other words, “take one for the team.” The victim’s liberal friends were asking her to surrender her rights to body sovereignty in the name of saving the planet from global warming. If the eco-friendly future includes women being used like livestock whenever men feel like it, the hell with that. How can you possibly have an eco-friendly future that does not include every human being from infancy to death having sole rights over her/his body?

The liberal Huffington Post has emphasized an angle that puts the woman’s credibility in doubt by disclosing the gap between when the incident happened and when it was reported, and a claim that the woman asked The National Enquirer for $1m for her story – which they did not pay. Liberal commenters are quick to assume no one in the US ever asked for money for a story that really happened (really? In the US?). Worse are comments like these:

At the risk of sounding cynical, I think this scandal might prove to be the best image improver for Al Gore! Don’t you all remember how everyone made fun of his academic and uninteresting speaking style, his lack of pzazz, verve and energy? Well, move over, there’s a NEW Al Gore in town, thanks to a gold-digging masseuse and political hag.

In other words, Al Gore, sexual predator, has more “pzazz, verve and energy” than Al Gore, nerd. I’d like to say I’m shocked, but I learned in the 90s when Clinton was accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct, that most people don’t know the difference between consensual sex scandals, sexual assault, and gender bias that affects someone’s ability to obtain and maintain employment. Here’s another gem:

My reaction is I wish he threw me down on the bed after I massaged his entire body.
He’s goregeous.

In other words, “Because I find him attractive, anyone he attempts to sexually assault should be flattered.”

The HuffPo commenters assume almost unilaterally that since this woman has spoken to the media more than the police in this case, she’s a liar. But I find her explanation plausible:

“I did not immediately call the police as I feared being made into a public spectacle and my reputation being destroyed,” she said. “I was not sure what to tell them and was concerned my story would not be believed since there was no DNA evidence from a completed act of rape. I did not even know what to call what had happened to me.”

What exactly can the police do in a case like this? They have a hard enough time proving sexual assault cases where DNA was present, when defendants claim the event was consensual. This is part of why women don’t report assaults to police. Going to the media was actually probably a smarter choice, if her goal was mainly to get the word out about this dark side to Mr. Save The Planet. Perhaps that was the only sort of justice she felt she could get, or that was needed. I’m reminded of Anita Hill, who was deemed to be a lying bitch for not making an issue no one would have cared about at the time her harassment took place; but again, her reasons for coming forward when she did made sense. And in the case of Gore’s accuser, she intended to sue civilly at first, then gave that effort up, and then the police dredged it up again. Maybe $1 million is her idea of the justice in a society that’s cynically ruled by dollars and media coverage. That just makes her a “good American.”

You might argue, “Well, she obviously got over her desire not to be a public spectacle.” Not necessarily. Being made a spectacle at the mercy of the press is a very different experience from manipulating the press for your own goals.

It’s interesting to watch liberal commenters twist arguments to support the idea the accuser is a liar:

So what. What is a joke is that she is going after him four years later…and asking for big money. Sounds like she has fallen on hard economic times and using this to ‘come up’. The sad fact is that most men are inherently so-called perverts.

In other words, “Most men are sexual assailants, but she’s probably lying because she waited to report it and then asked for money.” If you actually believe most men are capable of sexual assault (which I don’t, personally), then shouldn’t you conclude her story is probably true despite these little details? Not if you reach your conclusions by deciding who you want to support and working backwards to make the facts (as you see them) fit.

It’s also very disturbing to me that Fox News refuses to release the woman’s name (as a purported victim) while HuffPo’s headline leads with her full name. Fox News is treating this as a real sexual assault story, but only because it suits their political purposes, while HuffPo is treating it as a joke, because that suits their political purposes.

And that’s why I consider both parties radically anti-feminist: they have both proven over and over that they will use and abuse women anyway any time, as it suits their political goals, which are to put men in office and positions of power


  1. Patrick McGraw says

    Your conclusion sums up perfectly how disgusting coverage of this issue has been.

    And I am really, really sick of the “If you’re making the accusation this long after the fact you must be making it all up” argument.

    • says

      The only thing I’d say is if you’re waiting this long, it is very possible your memories have changed and adapted over time, but honestly, in such a case its as likely that she’s making an issue out of something that didn’t happen as that she’s toning what happened down because of the implications of Gore’s supposed actions.

    • scarlett says

      Patrick, I was reading a book about the sexual abuse of west australian orphans/children of impovrished parents at the hands of a sect of the Catholic Church. His argument was similar: well, why did they wait until after the priests had died to make claims when they couldn’t defend themselves? Um, maybe ‘cos they didn’t feel safe until the perpetrators were dead? Duh.

      • scarlett says

        Whoops, meant Patrick McGraw when I said that.

        And to Other Patrick – yes, I think there is always going to be an element of that to it. Does it mean someone’s making it up to make money or some other reason for not coming forward at the time that doesn’t stand up to much moral inspection? Of course not.

      • Patrick McGraw says

        Yes, it’s especially rotten when used as an argument against someone who was abused as a child by an authority figure. There’s no way the naysayers can’t see why the accuser waited so long, making the argument plainly disingenuous.

        “Why did you wait” isn’t an argument made by someone trying to get at the truth, it’s a silencing tactic meant purely to discredit the accuser.

        • scarlett says

          No way would I buy that, in an instutitution as large as the CC, there weren’t plenty of people well aware that that’s a common reason people wait so long to accuse their abusers, and they use the argument anyway.

  2. says

    I don’t care whether she asked money or waited or whatever. I only care whether it’s true, and honestly, when I have to choose between a politician and a massage therapist, I don’t necessarily believe the politician.

    • says

      My personal policy is to believe accusers until I’m presented with solid reasons to disbelieve them. Because accusing someone of a sex crime against you when you’re telling absolutely the truth and nothing but the truth is a demoralizing enough experience to make you want to quit humanity. It would take someone fairly disturbed – or profoundly unaware of how this stuff works – to cheerfully start muckraking about a fake accusation. Or it would take a conspiracy, in which the accuser feels shielded enough by the group to put up with all that.

      In this case, I have been offered no reason to think this woman is psychologically disturbed enough to think this will be a fun little picnic. Nor do I think she could be unworldly enough not to realize what she’s getting into – she’s massaged other celebs, and clearly knows her way around that strange planet they live on. As for a conspiracy, I admit politics is where you most often find them – but Gore’s not in politics, and I can’t imagine this damaging his reputation or standing in a way that would benefit anyone enough to bother with it. All his political enemies have skeletons in their closets, too, so if they were behind this, they’re inviting a “back atcha” campaign like we saw take out several Congressional Repubs back when various accusations were supposed to be removing Clinton from office.

      • says

        Great point about the difficulty of accusers to come out. It’s not easy, not least of all because people will not believe you.

        Didn’t I read somewhere recently that the rate of false reports was even lower with sex crimes? Damn. Off to google my behind off.

        • says

          I’ve come across wide variances, but every serious study is accompanied by the caveat that it’s hard to gauge what’s a false complaint. I.E., just because charges end up dropped or law enforcement doesn’t feel they can go to trial does not make it a lie. Just because someone is released on appeal doesn’t mean the accuser lied (mistaken ID is common). Etc.

  3. JMS says

    I see no reason to think that this particular person is any more likely to be making a false report than anyone else: the incidence of false crime reports is less than 10%.

    Now, would I like to believe that this is false? Yes, because I admire a lot of what Al Gore has done. But what I want to believe and what is true are not the same.

    • says

      Now, would I like to believe that this is false? Yes, because I admire a lot of what Al Gore has done. But what I want to believe and what is true are not the same.

      I wish I was seeing more of this attitude, because I think it’s exactly the right way to look at it when someone you admire is accused of doing something like this. The sad fact is, it’s quite possible for people to do great things in one area of their lives while doing the unforgivable in another.

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