Thursday, June 01, 2006
Al Gore: "Congress ... has become a rubber stamp"
TERRY GROSS [31:20]: Does Congress look different to you from a distance? You know, so many Congress-watchers are saying it's more divided than they can ever remember it being in their memories. Does it appear that way to you too? And what are some of the differences you see?Previous post
AL GORE: Well, I served in the Congress for a long time—for 18 years and then as President of the Senate. And it was a different Congress from what we have today.
The legislative branch of government is intended to be co-equal with the executive and judicial, and independent. And as such it's supposed to conduct oversight and render independent judgments of policy.
And this Congress has been so shockingly obsequious to the desires of the President and his political advisors that it has become a rubber stamp. This Congress has actually... If you look at their plans and schedule, they will work 17 days less in this Congress than the legendary "Do-Nothing" Congress that Harry Truman ran against in his last race.
They allow lobbyists to write the laws. They ignore the parliamentary rules of procedure. They allow the Executive Branch and the lobbyists that work there to come in at the tail end of the legislative process after the conference committees have met and insert special-interest language that neither house of Congress has ever considered, much less voted on independently.
And that results in powerful and wealthy special interests writing laws that the rest of us have to abide by under penalty of imprisonment or whatever the penalty in the individual law is. And that is something the Congress has allowed to happen. And I do not think that... Many of them are simply not living up to their oath to defend the Constitution.
TERRY GROSS: Democrats and Republicans?
AL GORE: Well, I'm afraid that ... Well, first of all the Democrats, were they in power, would not allowed this to happen.
Have some of them been too willing to go along and too willing to allow some of these things to happen? Yes, I'm afraid that is the case. But I'm not going to blame the victims. Because I do believe that if they were in power it would be very different. And I have great hopes that the elections this fall—the 2006 midterm elections—will produce a real tidal wave of change. I certainly hope they will.
Al Gore: "I would not have imagined ...." (6/1/06)