Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias In accordance with Vice President Gore's call for a return to "Plain English" in public communications, we are excerpting portions of his speech to the nation Monday night, and then translating them into "Plain English."

Original version: "Good evening. Thank you for taking the time to listen tonight."

Plain English version: "Good evening. Please note that I am allowing the press to take flash photographs of me as I speak, as opposed to my opponent, who only allowed television cameras at his Sunday night speech. You will also notice that I have shellacked my face with so much make-up that it looks like I have the power to shoot lightning bolts from my temple. In fact, I do have the ability to zap all who oppose me with 20,000 volts of electricity."

Original version: "The act of voting and having that vote counted is more important than who wins the majority of the votes that are cast, because whoever wins, the victor will know that the American people have spoken with a voice made mighty by the whole of its integrity."

Plain English version: "You will also notice that I have 14 American flags behind me. My opponent only used two during his speech. I'll just drone on incomprehensibly for a while so you can count 'em for yourself."

Original version: "A vote is not just a piece of paper. A vote is a human voice, a statement of human principle, and we must not let those voices be silenced."

Plain English version: "A vote is not just a piece of paper. A vote is a human voice, but sometimes it is this faint little crackly voice of someone like Mrs. Masters, my first-grade teacher, who wore trifocals and couldn't hear so all the big kids could shoot spit wads at me all day and get away with it. Mrs. Masters meant to vote for me and we must not let her voice be silenced just because she got a little confused and accidentally voted for Nader or Buchanan or that little Printers Union label."

Official version: "We must not let those voices be silenced. Not for today, not for tomorrow, not for as long as this nation's laws and democratic institutions let us stand and fight to let those voices count."

Plain English version: "I originally wrote this in Mrs. Masters' class. What can I say? I'm precocious."

Official version: "If the people do not in the end choose me, so be it."

Plain English version: "By the 'end' I am referring to a time possibly very much in the future, such as the Biblical 'end time' when the seas roil and the lions lie with the lambs and angels dance to the music of a thousand celestial trumpets and the heavens part for the righteous and the wicked are swallowed by hellfire. Until then, we hunt for chads."

Official version: "There are some who would have us bring this election to the fastest conclusion possible. I have a different view."

Plain English version: "See above."

Official version: "I believe our Constitution matters more than convenience. So, as provided under Florida law, I have decided to contest this inaccurate and incomplete count, in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome."

Plain English version: "Not only do I have the power to shoot electricity from my temples, I can also hypnotize everyone who is watching so that they forget my insulting half-truths, distortions and evasions. For example, I'll continue to assert that I want a 'complete' count in Florida while I'm actually asking for selective hand counts. And I'll keep selling the notion that some votes have not yet been counted, when in fact they've been counted twice. Who said I don't have a sense of humor?"

Original version: "The American people have shown dignity, restraint and respect as the process has moved forward."

Plain English version: "Never mind the fact that if I am to prevail in this extraordinary series of legal and political battles to wrest victory in Florida from George W. Bush, I will have to persuade Florida's state courts to overrule the vote certified by state officials who followed rules issued by the Florida Supreme Court. I would have to win a new court-supervised count. And I would have to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to reject Bush's challenge to the constitutionality of the new count. And if I somehow managed to win all of those legal fights and became the first American in history to successfully overturn a legally certified presidential election result, then I would have to persuade both a Republican Florida Legislature and a Republican Congress to accept the result without objection. All before Dec. 12. Thank you for not rioting. Much obliged."

Original version: "In the end, in one of God's unforeseen paths, this election may point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people, with a shared history and a shared destiny. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America."

Plain English version: "Fourteen flags."

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