Newsweek.com on Tuesday offered a bizarre, liberal fantasy that posited what would happen if Al Gore won the 2000 election. Writer David Rakoff composed the supposedly satirical article, which features Gore averting the 9/11 terrorist attacks: "An August 2001 Daily Intelligence Briefing warns, 'Bin Ladin [sic] Determined to Strike in the U.S.,' which prompts the president to authorize the strategic bombing of targets in the Khost province of Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border."
Rakoff, who has written for Salon.com and contributed to the audio version of Jon Stewart’s book, portrayed Joe Lieberman as a disloyal vice president who ultimately resigns.
He also spun Gore as a quick acting President who took action after Hurricane Katrina and kept the death count down to 17 people:
Aug. 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina strikes Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama, with winds of up to 140 miles per hour. Although meteorologically one of the most significant storms in decades, the surge of water into New Orleans floods low-lying parts of the city to a depth of just three feet. Within hours, FEMA mobilizes supplies of food and water, and the Army Corps of Engineers shores up the levees and pumps out the flood waters within six days. Total mortality in New Orleans for the hurricane is just 17 people.
The piece contains numerous fake quotes from real people. In this alternate world, Supreme Court judge Antonin Scalia wrote a hateful, bitter dissent for the Bush V. Gore case:
Writing for the minority, Justice Antonin Scalia is uncharacteristically vituperative, ending with the statement: "The counting of votes of questionable legality has done irreparable harm not just to petitioner Bush but to the country as a whole. Indeed, how far has this august body fallen that we might contemplate as reasonable the perversion of an election and the awarding of the highest office in the land to a man—never has the term been more laughably conferred—who could not even carry his home state. We have abrogated reason and truth in favor of a consoling liberal fiction, a farce of wish-fulfillment identity politics and anthropomorphized, liquid-eyed woodland creatures whose habitats have been deemed more important than the will of the voting public." Scalia is officially censured for his "uncalled for ad hominem statements"—border[ing] on vendetta—"the expression of personal speech inimical to the role and spirit of the judiciary." His opinion is withdrawn from the official court record. Justice Clarence Thomas provides the alternate dissenting opinion.
Now, clearly much of this is supposed to be over-the-top. But, perhaps catering to such a liberal fantasy world is one reason Newsweek is losing readers and becoming less and less relevant.
This article was part of Newsweek’s 20/10 look back at the decade. A previous posting named the biggest blunder of the decade to be George W. Bush’s reaction to Katrina. (The number two blunder was, apparently, John Kerry for "Let[ting] Himself Get Swift-Boated.")