Pubdate: Wed, 27 Sep 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Author: Kevin Sack
Bookmark: additional articles on VP Al Gore are available at


ANN ARBOR, Mich., Sept. 26 - He did not have to choose between boxers or 
briefs. But in a lengthy MTV forum today, broadcast tonight, Vice President 
Al Gore did reveal that he had a compact disc by the alternative rock band 
Sister Hazel in his CD player right then, that he would probably write for 
a living if he were not otherwise employed next year, and that he coveted 
Air Force One more than any other White House perquisite.

Between hip cultural references about Napster and the World Wrestling 
Federation ("Smackdown!" Mr. Gore exclaimed when the topic was raised), the 
vice president explained his support for civil unions between homosexuals, 
his opposition to the legalization of medical marijuana and his distaste 
for misogynistic music. He was not asked about his underwear preference, as 
President Clinton was in a now infamous 1994 MTV forum ("Usually briefs," 
he responded).

Mr. Gore said little in the 90- minute session that he had not said 
previously during the campaign. But he clearly relished the opportunity to 
take his case directly to 150 students in an auditorium at the University 
of Michigan and to a youthful nationwide television audience. A recent poll 
by MTV found that less than half of those ages 18 to 24 said they planned 
to vote this year, compared with 80 percent of older Americans.

Wearing khaki Dockers and a sage shirt, Mr. Gore pledged to commit more 
money to college financial aid, to protect the environment and to safeguard 
abortion rights. But the drama of the session was provided by the students' 
ability to personalize questions on subjects the Gore campaign is 
accustomed to addressing in position papers and statements.

A black student asked Mr. Gore about racial profiling by telling how he was 
recently surrounded by six police cars while driving with four black 
friends. A gay man asked why his heterosexual friends should be able to 
drive to Las Vegas and marry someone they barely know when he cannot form a 
legal union with a longtime, committed partner. A woman who opposes 
abortion rights asked about that issue by pointing out that her friends 
sometimes use abortion as a form of birth control.

Responding to the question about profiling, Mr. Gore pledged to sign a ban 
on the practice as "the first civil rights act of the 21st century."

On gay rights, he said he strongly favors ending discrimination against 
gays and lesbians. "I just think we've come to the point in our nation's 
history where it's time to take that step," he said. "It's indefensible. 
Let's just leave people alone and stop discriminating against them because 
of who they fall in love with."

Mr. Gore said he supported civil unions like those recently approved in 

On abortion, the vice president said that RU-486, the abortion pill, should 
be made available once the Food and Drug Administration determines it is 
safe. He also agreed that the practice should not be used as a form of 
birth control.

"But I think that it's not for the government to make that choice," Mr. 
Gore said. "I deeply respect your view and I think actually the pro-life 
and pro-choice forces in this country have more in common than either side 
is willing to acknowledge. Both sides would like to see a reduction in the 
number of abortions, and the way to do that is to reduce the number of 
situations where women feel like they have to make that choice."

Mr. Gore also took questions on popular culture and the entertainment 
industry, which has been a focus of his campaign this month.

He said he did not support censorship. But he also did not hesitate to 
offer his personal view that Americans should protest entertainment that 
advocates homophobia, violence against women or racial discrimination. "I 
don't go along with the notion that if material like that becomes widely 
accepted and nobody thinks a second thought about it that there are no 
consequences to it," he said. "I think that what we listen to and enjoy and 
spread around in our culture does have an effect on us."

One student told Mr. Gore he was tempted to vote for Ralph Nader, the Green 
Party candidate, and challenged him to "assure me that a vote for Al Gore 
is a conscientious vote, not simply a vote for the lesser of two evils." 
Mr. Gore cited his support for tough environmental enforcement and consumer 

"I don't think anybody wants to feel like they have no options," Mr. Gore 
said. "At the same time, they don't want to cast a meaningless vote that 
doesn't have an impact on the outcome." 
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