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    At 4:11 a.m. -- more than 19 hours after it began -- the nightmarish battle over Duval´s military
    ballots came to an end.  Duval was the last of Florida´s 67 counties to complete the arduous task.
    When the canvassing board announced that the ballots of 149 soldiers, sailors and airmen had been
    disqualified, a pair of jubilant Gore lawyers exchanged high-fives.

    A Republican, visibly shaken by this sight, demanded to know how they could celebrate the
    disenfranchisement of U.S. military personnel risking their lives around the world. One of the Gore
    lawyers glibly replied: 'A win´s a win.'
        -At Any Cost

It is quite unlikely that Bill Sammon's account of the 2000 election debacle will be taken seriously by the mainstream media, he is after all doubly a member of the Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy--as both the White House correspondent for the dread Washington Times and an analyst for the upstart Fox News Channel.  And to be honest, he's neither a great stylist (imagine this story in the hands of a Tom Wolfe or a Richard Ben Cramer), nor is he a profound analyst (though the political and legal intricacies of this story would require an analyst who combines the acumen of both Ed Rollins and Bob Bork).  Nonetheless, he is an excellent journalist, and he has a naturally riveting tale to tell.

Even though it was only seven months ago, it's easy to forget, or perhaps we (or just I) don't choose to remember, what a roller coaster ride those six weeks after Election Day were and what emotional peaks and valleys we all shared.  Mr. Sammon uses an especially effective device to restore the sense of immediacy that the passage of time may have diminished : he opens most chapters with the actual experiences of one individual and how events effected them personally.  This is particularly devastating when he details the stories of Bob Glass, a voter in the Florida Panhandle who turned away from the still open polls when he heard that Al Gore had already won, and Navy Lieutenant John Russell, whose ballot was thrown out because it lacked a postmark, even though, as military mail, it required none.

Stories like these serve to plunge us back into the whole mess, then Mr. Sammon lets the course of events take over, marshaling the fairly complicated facts and presenting them in clear and dramatic fashion.  The narrative is held together by the theme around which he organizes the book, which, as the title indicates, that not only was the chaos and uncertainty of this period not an inevitable outgrowth of a close election, but that Al Gore actually tried gaming the system in order to steal an election that he knew he had lost, even though he always knew he had practically no hope of reversing the result.  Mr. Sammon has his own reasons for distrusting Gore, one of which he discusses at some length.  It was Mr. Sammon who first reported the story that, with the connivance of Gore campaign officials and local environmentalists, Pacific Gas & Electric officials were ordered to release water into the Connecticut River in order to ensure a pretty photo op for Gore and New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen.  Gore's subsequent dissembling on this issue, if not downright dishonesty, made Sammon even more skeptical of the Vice President's character than he might otherwise have been.

One result of this is that Sammon takes Gore at his word when he said :

    I'm not like George Bush. If he wins or loses, life goes on. I'll do anything to win.

From this perspective--and though admittedly antagonistic I think it is nonetheless fair--the entire course of Gore's extremely reckless and potentially destabilizing attack on the Florida election result takes on a consistency and a coherence that it might otherwise lack.  The conscious attempt to disenfranchise military voters, the anti-consitutional resort to the courts to settle a dispute which is explicitly entrusted to legislatures, the vicious smear campaign against Katherine Harris, the contemplated subversion of potentially "faithless" electors, etc., all seem out of character for an essentially conservative, rather decent, career politician, unless we first accept his own admission that he was being driven by pure personal ambition, which Sammon does.

There are certain to be many more books about the 2000 Election, but none are likely to beat this one for clarity in terms both of presenting the facts and developing a simple thesis for why it all happened.  If you still refuse to acknowledge George Bush's legitimacy and you harbor lingering contempt for the Supreme Court, this probably isn't the book for you.  But if you are interested in reading a brisk, highly opinionated, but always professional, account of the crisis, you'll thoroughly enjoy this one.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)

  

Websites:

See also:

Politics
Bill Sammon Links:
    -Washington Times : National/Politics
    -Special Report with Brit Hume (FOX News)
    -BOOK SITE : At Any Cost (Regnery)
    -EXCERPT : from At Any Cost : Networks' early call kept many from polls (Bill Sammon, The Washington Times)
    -EXCERPT : from At Any Cost : Stiffing the troops serving overseas (Bill Sammon, The Washington Times)
    -EXCERPT : from At Any Cost : Gore played all cards before finally folding  (Bill Sammon, The Washington Times)
    -ARTICLE : Harris was warned that recount was a 'setup'  (Bill Sammon, July 2 2001, Washington Times)
    -ARTICLE : Election Study Conducted by Gore Associate (Bill Sammon, 6/20/01, Washington Times)
    -ARTICLE : The Clinton story that's too hot to handle (Bill Sammon and Frank Murray, February 4, 1999,  THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
    -ARTICLE : Flynt Sleuth Dished Dirt for White House (Bill Sammon | Washington Times | January 13, 1999)
    -ARTICLE : Gore loses Florida suit; High  court voids hand count (Bill Sammon, Washington Times)
    -PROFILE : King Sammon (Kristi Slafka, Hotline)
    -ESSAY : Bill Sammon says Gore didn't know from the water. So why was this even a story? (Daily Howler, 30 July 1999)
    -ESSAY : Just how silly can Bill Sammon get? Pretty silly (Daily Howler,  4 August 1999)
    -REVIEW : of At Any Cost  By Bill Sammon (Philip Terzian, Wall Street Journal)
    -REVIEW : of At Any Cost (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
    -REVIEW ESSAY : An Imperfect Tie : What's to be learned from the 2000 Election? (Noemie Emery, Weekly Standard)

Book-related and General Links:

ELECTION 2000 (FLORIDA) :
    The Consortium Report: Florida Recount (Washington Post)
    -Bush v. Gore : Web Companion (Brookings Institute)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : The 2000 Election
    -Election 2000 (Newshour Online, PBS)
    -U.S. Presidential Election 2000 : A Chronology  (Covenant News)
    -RULING : Per Curiam :  SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES : GEORGE W. BUSH, et al., PETITIONERS v.  ALBERT GORE, Jr., et al. :  ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT [December 12, 2000]
    -ARCHIVE : Election 2000 (American Prospect)
    -ARCHIVE : Election 2000 (CNN/All Politics)
    -ESSAY : Florida 2000: Bush Wins Again! Everything you've heard about the latest
media recount is wrong. (Einer Elhauge, 11/19/01, Weekly Standard)
    -ARTICLE : Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote :
George W. Bush would have won even if the Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount that the Florida court had ordered to go forward. (11/12/01, NY Times)
    -DIALOGUE : The Supreme Court and the 2000 Election (Alan M. Dershowitz and Richard A. Posner, July 2001, Slate)
    -ESSAY : Sanctimony serving politics: the Florida fiasco : Reflections on the Supreme Court's internvention in the battle for Florida's electoral votes (Robert H. Bork, New Criterion)
    -ESSAY : The cultural revolution comes to the ballot box (New Criterion, December 2000)
    -ESSAY : Deconstructing the Election (Win McCormack, The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Supreme Injustice by Alan Dershowitz (Gary Kamiya, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of The Betrayal of America by Vincent Buglosi (Charles Taylor, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Supreme Injustice,'' Alan M. Dershowitz and Breaking the Deadlock by Richard Posner (Ethan Bronner, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : od Bush v. Gore : The Court Cases and the Commentaries ed. by William Kristol & EJ Dionne (Renata Adler, New Republic)
    -ESSAY : The Myth of a 'Stolen' Election (Bob Zelnick, July 2001,Wall Street Journal)
    -REVIEW : of Breaking the Deadlock : The 2000 Election, the Constitution and the Courts By Richard A. Posner (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
    -ESSAY : The Great US Election Disaster (Hal Foster, November 2000, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Down & Dirty, The Plot to Steal the Presidency. By Jake Tapper (CONOR O'CLERY, Irish Times)
    -ESSAY : Screwy Scholarship : Was Dred Scott better than Bush v. Gore? Only if you're a law professor. (MAX BOOT, August 13, 2001, Opinion Journal)

(SLATE COVERAGE )
    -ARCHIVES : Presidency in a Lockbox : Our complete election and recount coverage (Slate)

(WEEKLY STANDARD COVERAGE)
    -ESSAY : Gore's Spoiled Ballot (David Tell and William Kristol, November 20, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : It's the Law, Stupid : How many lawyers does it take to win an election? (Jay Lefkowitz, November 20, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Al Gore's Florida War Room : Shut it down now. Please. (Richard Pollock, November 20, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Deliver Us from Palm Beach : When mass hysteria collides with the Constitution, the results are not pretty. (Matt Labash, November 20, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : The Gore Coup (David Tell, for the Editors, November 27, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : The Politics of Personal Destruction : Al Gore needed a villain. Too bad for Katherine Harris (John Podhoretz, November 27, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Palm Beach Bingo : From the amphitheater, to the Operations Center, to the courthouses. (Matt Labash, November 27, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : President Dimple? (Richard Starr, for the Editors, December 4, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Our Aaron Burr : Self-obsessed, conniving, and dangerous, Al Gore is the man who will say or do anything to get his way. (Noemie Emery, December 4, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : The War over Gore (David Tell, for the Editors, December 11, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Histrionics in the Making : The week that was in Tallahassee (Matt Labash, December 11, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : First Principles in Florida : Conservatives believe in rules; liberals want to be "fair." (Noemie Emery, December 11, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : A President by Judicial Fiat (William Kristol, December 18, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY :  Our Robed Masters : What the court did was a power grab, pure and simple. (Robert N. Hochman, December 18, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Travesty in Tallahassee : How wrong was the Florida Supreme Court? Let us count the ways. (Nelson Lund, December 18, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : The Bush Victory (David Tell, December 25, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : An Act of Courage : Under Rehnquist's courage, the Court did the right thing. (Nelson Lund, December 25, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Al Gore's Legal Doomsday Machine : All those lawyers on Team Gore end up litigating their way to defeat. (Tod Lindberg, December 25, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Equal Protection Run Amok : Conservatives will come to regret the Court's rationale for Bush v. Gore (John J. DiIulio Jr., December 25, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : The Secret of Footnote 17 : The Florida Supreme Court finally responded, but no one noticed. (Micahel W. Schwartz, December 25, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : The Florida Travesty, Cont. :  The Civil Rights Commission releases a draft report of its findings. (Jennifer C. Braceras, June 18, 2001, Weekly Standard)
    -REVIEW : of Down and Dirty: the Plot to Steal the Presidency by Jake Tapper (Stephen Robinson, booksonline)

(NEW REPUBLIC COVERAGE :)
    -ESSAY : The Editors Say Count 'em All (The New Republic, 11/16/00)
    -ESSAY : Overtime : How a Little Hustle Kept Gore Alive (Ryan Lizza, 11/16/00, New Republic)
    -ESSAY : Rage Against the Machine : How Safe are our Voting Machines (Ronnie Dugger, 11/22/00, New Republic)
    -ESSAY : Spoiled (The New Republic, June 14. 2001)
    -ESSAY : Reconsidering Bush v. Gore : The Florida Supreme Court was wrong, but so was the U.S. Supreme Court. (GARY ROSEN, November 7, 2001, Wall Street Journal)
 

W :
    -SPECIAL REPORT : National Missile Defense (Washington Post)
    -PROFILE : Conflicting Image of Bush Emerges : Bush Makes Political Investments, but Will They Make Him? (John F. Harris and Dan Balz, April 29, 2001, Washington Post)
    -ESSAY : Jews in Bushís Cabinet? Donít Hold Your Breath  (Philip Weiss , December 2001, NY Observer)
    -ESSAY : Waiting on the prez : After dinner, after the dignitaries had left, a guy in a blue suit came back to the kitchen -- a Texan named George. (Cullen Thomas, Dec. 5, 2001, Salon)
    -ESSAY : The President's Very Favorite Book : In defense of George W. Bush's literary taste. (Andrew Ferguson, August 2001, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Bush's Exercise Guru : Will our next surgeon general make us all fit as fiddles? (Andrew Ferguson, May 2001, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Bush's Stealth Budget Strategy : The budget director's plan to shrink government. (Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : A Good Week's Work . . . (Robert Kagan, June 18 2001, Washington Post)
Monday, June 18, 2001
    -ARTICLE : First Impressions :  Wary Europeans Await Bush on Whirlwind Tour (ABC News)
    -ESSAY : Is George just dumb enough to be great? (WILLIAM REES-MOGG, JULY 30 2001, Times of London)
    -REVIEW : of  The Bush Dyslexicon by Mark Crispin Miller (MICHAEL ERARD, Texas Observer)
    -REVIEW : of  First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty by Bill Minutaglio (David Broder, Washington Monthly)
    -REVIEW : of  Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose's new book Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (Myra MacPherson, Washington Monthly)
    -REVIEW : of Fuzzy Math : The Essential Guide to the Bush Tax Plan by Paul Krugman (Walter Shapiro, Washington Monthly)
    -ESSAY : Kooks 'R' U.S. : By going its own way on biological weapons, Kyoto, missile defense and a growing list of global issues, the Bush administration is turning the United States into a pariah. (Ian Williams, July 2001, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of First Son George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty. By Bill Minutaglio  (David Brooks, NY Times Book Review)

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