Al Gore, humorist

With the election season over, a bit of humor might be an appropriate balm to all the acrimony from the past several weeks.

Thirty years ago today was Election Day and I was on a flight from Washington to Houston as part of a White House staff migration to watch returns with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.  I was a White House speechwriter for Mr. Bush and Election Day 1988 was the culmination of months of late nights and weekends in the office.

Al Gore, Vice President
of the United States, 1994

Mr. Bush’s staff had gathered in the Old Executive Office Building that morning for breakfast and Bloody Marys. Although alcohol was strictly prohibited during White House work hours, it’s possible that vodka was an ingredient.

The group took cabs to National Airport where we boarded a flight to Houston that had a stopover in Nashville. I was one of two staffers at the plane’s entrance who offered Bush/Quayle buttons to interested passengers. The rest of our team (perhaps 50) were in coach with our Bush/Quayle signs and elephant hats.

More important, the vodka had kicked in.

Sure enough, the final two passengers in the plane were Al and Tipper Gore.  I didn’t offer them buttons but said something along the lines of, “Senator, you’re in for a surprise when you get to your seat.”

When the Gores entered the coach area, a loud roar went up from our group. To his credit, while surveying all the elephant hats in the cabin, he replied without missing a beat, “I’ve heard that Republicans are moving south but this is ridiculous.”

He then turned to Tipper and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Honey, as soon as we get to Nashville, I’m firing our travel agent.”

For a public servant oftentimes criticized for being excessively serious, these were pretty good one-liners.

Peter Arnold
Senior Advisor

A member of the Dawson team since 2007, Peter was a speechwriter for then-Vice President George H.W. Bush from 1986-1989.

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