(Extensions of Remarks - December 19, 1998)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2357-E2360]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           SR., OF TENNESSEE


                            HON. TOM LANTOS

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Friday, December 18, 1998

  Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, on December 5, Albert Gore, Sr.--who served 
14 years as a member of this House and another 18 years as a member of 
the United States Senate--died at his home in Carthage, Tennessee. I 
knew Senator Gore, Mr. Speaker, and I have great respect for this 
outstanding gentleman and distinguished public servant.
  During his 32 years of service in the Congress, Senator Gore 
established a legacy that all of us can envy. He was the principal 
Senate author of the legislation that created the Interstate Highway 
System which was adopted by the Congress in 1956. He was a voice of 
reason and honor in supporting civil rights at a time when few southern 
political leaders would dare to take such a principal stand. He 
expressed his opposition to the war in Viet Nam, and that courageous 
position ultimately cost him his seat in the Senate.
  Mr. Speaker, I had the honor of attending the Memorial Service for 
Senator Albert Gore, Sr., in Nashville on December 8. On that occasion, 
our Vice President Al Gore delivered a moving eulogy to his father. No 
finer tribute could be paid to any father than the honor which Vice 
President Gore paid to his father last week. Mr. Speaker, I ask that 
the Vice President's remarks be placed in the Record, and I urge my 
colleagues to read them and join me in celebrating the life and legacy 
of Senator Gore.

[[Page E2358]]

  Remarks by the Vice President at the Funeral of His Father, Former 
                        Senator Albert Gore, Sr.

    War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee, December 8, 1998

       The Vice President: President and Mrs. Clinton; so many 
     honored guests from our nation and our state. The Lord gave 
     and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the 
       My father was the greatest man I ever knew in my life. Most 
     of you know him for his public service and it could be said 
     of him, in the words of Paul, that this man walked worthy of 
     the vocation wherewith he was called.
       There were those many, many who loved him--and there were a 
     few who hated him. Hated him for the right reasons. It's 
     better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what 
     you are not.
       My father believed, in the words of the Scripture, ``Woe 
     unto you when all men shall speak well of you.'' (Laughter.) 
     He made decisions in politics that were such that he could 
     come home and explain to his children what he had decided and 
     why. He went into the world with peace; he held fast to that 
     which was good. He rendered to no one evil for evil. He was 
     of good courage. He strengthened the fainthearted. He 
     supported the weak. He helped the afflicted. He loved and 
     served all people who came his way.
       None of this was a secret to the world. As most of you 
     know, there was a time when some people thought my father 
     should seek the highest office in the land. Here's what he 
     said about that idea: ``The lure of the presidency never 
     really overwhelmed me, though, there were times when the vice 
     presidency seemed extremely attractive.'' (Laughter.) Now, 
     that's humility. (Laughter.) And he did love mercy and do 
     justly. The last advice he gave me, two weeks ago, when he 
     was almost too weak to speak, was this: Always do right.
       He was born in an isolated, poor dirt farm on the banks of 
     the Roaring River in Jackson County, Tennessee. His father 
     was a friend of Cordell Hull who, of course, later made all 
     the families in this part of the country proud by becoming a 
     congressman and a senator, and then Secretary of State.
       My grandfather and Cordell Hull floated logs down the 
     Cumberland River to the point where it meets the Caney Fork 
     at Carthage. My father's boyhood dreams were taken by the 
     currents of both men's lives. He was always a farmer, and he 
     became a statesman.
       Soon after he was born, his whole family moved to Smith 
     County, to a place just west of Carthage called Possum 
     Hollow. He grew up in what he described as a self-giving, 
     self-respecting household. and he said that, although the 
     chores were heavy and the discipline absolute, there was love 
     in our family and reverence for each other.
       He went to work as a teacher, in a one-room schoolhouse in 
     a mountain community in Overton County named Booze 
     (phonetic). (Laughter.) He was 18 years old and had three 
     months of college. His students called him Professor Gore. 
     (Laughter.) He read voraciously and taught himself to use 
     language with precision. ``The Leatherstocking Tales'' were 
     his favorites.
       I always marveled at his vocabulary and, as I grew older, 
     at his unusual pronunciation of certain words. For example, 
     instead of ``woond'' he always said ``wownd.'' I used to 
     challenge him on the words I was certain he'd mispronounced. 
     But invariably the dictionary also contained his preferred 
     version, with the italic note: ``archaic.'' (Laughter.) As 
     many have said since his passing, he was an original.
       As he continued his education at Murfreesboro State 
     Teachers College, and continued working in all his free 
     hours, he learned the lessons of hard times, trucking 
     livestock to market only to find that they had sold for less 
     than the hauling fee. The Great Depression awakened his 
     political conscience. He often told me of the deep emotions 
     he felt watching grown men with wives and children they could 
     neither feed nor clothe, on farms they could no longer pay 
     for. Grown men who were so desperate that tears streamed down 
     their cheeks when they received their meager checks for a 
     whole season's work on their crops.
       The kindling for his political philosophy piled up on 
     Sunday afternoons among the whittlers, with whom he sat under 
     the shade trees of the Carthage Square, and listened as 
     Congressman Hull talked of important business in the Nation's 
     Capital. When my father first heard Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
     on the radio, the kindling caught fire.
       He became the youth chairman in Tennessee for FDR in 1932. 
     The following year, he became a candidate himself, for the 
     first time, for Smith County's Superintendent of Schools. He 
     lost the election, and then his teaching job--(laughter)--but 
     he gained respect from those who heard him. Indeed, when the 
     man who won the race unexpectedly turned gravely ill soon 
     after the election, he surprised the County Court by 
     recommending my father as his replacement before he died. 
     This gift from his dying former rival made a deep and 
     lifelong impression on my father. It was one of the reasons 
     why he never said a harsh word about any of his opponents for 
     the rest of his career.
       He soon began YMCA night law school, even as he continued 
     as Superintendent of Schools, and awoke well before dawn to 
     also tend his crops. I don't think I ever saw him tired, but 
     he must have been sleepy after such long days and nights, 
     facing an hour's drive yet to return from Nashville to 
     Carthage on old Highway 70. So he went looking for coffee.
       And he found it at the old Andrew Jackson Coffee Shop, 
     which stood not 100 yards from here. He loved to tell the 
     story of how the coffee didn't taste good unless it was 
     poured by a beautiful young waitress named Pauline LaFon. She 
     was going to law school by day and working nights. They say 
     opposites attract. (Laughter.) They didn't marry right away; 
     she left for Texarkana, put up her shingle, and practiced oil 
     and gas law. But his coffee turned bitter, and eventually he 
     persuaded her to come back as his wife.
       Of all the lessons he taught me as a father, perhaps the 
     most powerful was the way he loved my mother. He respected 
     her as an equal, if not more. He was proud of her. But it 
     went way beyond that. When I was growing up, it never once 
     occurred to me that the foundation upon which my security 
     depended would ever shake. As I grew older, I learned from 
     them the value of a true, loving partnership that lasts for 
       After managing the successful campaign of Governor Gordon 
     Browning, he became Tennessee's first Commissioner of Labor, 
     and started unemployment compensation in the face of powerful 
     opposition. He enforced mine inspection laws for the first 
     time in our history. He administered our first minimum wage 
     law; it was 25 cents an hour. He defended the right to 
     organize. He was always, always for working men and women.
       He loved practical jokes. His humor often had an edge. One 
     Saturday night in the early 1930s, at a party he organized in 
     a barn by the Cumberland River for a group of friends in 
     Carthage, he planted the suggestion that quite a few 
     rattlesnakes had been seen in the area the preceding day. 
     Then, surreptitiously, in the shadows thrown by the fire, he 
     attached a fishhook to the pant-leg of his friend, Walter 
     Merriman. At the other end of the hook was tied a large black 
     snake he had killed in the barn before the party guests 
       Rejoining the circle, he bided his time for a moment, and 
     then suddenly pointed towards Merriman's leg and shouted, 
     ``Snake!'' The more Merriman jumped and ran, the more 
     determined the pursuing snake appeared. (Laughter.) The prank 
     worked a little too well when the fishhook dug into 
     Merriman's calf. (Laughter.) Certain that it was a 
     rattlesnake's fang, he collapsed in fear. (Laughter.)
       It took several months for the friendship to be repaired--
     (laughter)--but the story became such a local legend that 
     someone told me about it again last night at the wake.
       It's difficult to follow the rhythm of his life without 
     hearing the music that held him in its sway ever since the 
     spring day a fiddler named Uncle Barry Agee played at the 
     closing ceremonies of Miss Mary Litchburg's first-grade 
     class. It was a magical experience that ignited a passion for 
     playing the fiddle, so powerful that, later in his life, he 
     sometimes worried that, if he gave into it, it would somehow 
     carry him away from the political purposes to which he was 
     also powerfully drawn.
       Before long, by the grace of his mother and with the help 
     of his brother, he marshaled the impressive sum of $5 to buy 
     his own fiddle, and soon thereafter his classmates nicknamed 
     him Music Gore.
       He always told lots of stories, but without a doubt the one 
     he told most often was about a Possum Hollow hoedown held at 
     his house, to which several musicians were invited, including 
     a traveling mandolin player with one leg named, Old Peg, who 
     spent the night in their home.
       My father had just finished the eighth grade and his 
     devotion to music had become, in his words, all-absorbing. 
     The next morning he helped his father hitch up the harness 
     for Old Peg's horse and buggy. Each time he told this story, 
     the buggy grew more dilapidated. Before long, it had no top; 
     the harness was mostly baling wire and binding twine. He 
     counted that scrawny horse's ribs a thousand times for me and 
     my sister, and then counted them many times again for his 
       As Old Peg left the sturdy Gore household, the buggy was 
     practically falling apart. As the impoverished picker wobbled 
     precariously down his less-traveled road, my grandfather 
     waited until he was just out of hearing range, then put his 
     hand on my father's shoulder and launched a sentence that 
     made all the difference: ``There goes your future, Albert.'' 
     (Laughter.) My grandfather's humor had an edge to it, too. 
       Don't ever doubt the impact that fathers have on their 
     children. Children with strong fathers learn trust early on, 
     that their needs will be met; that they're wanted; that they 
     have value. They can afford to be secure and confident. They 
     will get the encouragement they need to keep on going through 
     any rough spots they encounter in life. I learned all those 
     things from my father. He made all the difference.
       Boys also learn from their fathers how to be fathers. I 
     know I did. When my father first ran for Congress, as the age 
     of 29, he worried that people would think he was too young, 
     so he vowed to always wear his coat and he affected a formal 
     demeanor. With Old Peg still wobbling through his unknown 
     future, candidate Gore vowed also to never play the fiddle--
     in public.
       Which brings me to what was, by our official family count, 
     my father's second-most frequently told story. It's Saturday 
     night in Fentris County, July 1938. The crowd had gathered in 
     the hot, crowded courtroom for my father's speech on 
     reciprocal free trade.

[[Page E2359]]

     (Laughter.) There's a bustle through the door at the rear of 
     the crowd. Three of my father's musician friends are working 
     their way through the crowd toward the podium, and one of 
     them holds a fiddle over his head. He, my father, speaks 
     louder and more rapidly about the evils of tariffs, hoping, 
     he claims, that the fiddle will go away.
       By now, though, his alter ego is standing directly in front 
     of him, holding the fiddle in outstretched arms and demanding 
     loudly, ``Play us a tune, Albert?'' Trapped by this powerful 
     drama, he seizes the fiddle and unleashes his music. And then 
     the crowd goes wild. My father always chuckled when he 
     delivered his favorite punchline, ``They brought the house 
     down.'' (Laughter.)
       Once he was reconciled to who he really was, there was no 
     turning back, and the crowds did love it. He brought the 
     house down wherever he went.
       In August, he was elected in the Democratic primary. That 
     was it, because back then no Republicans ever ran. In 
     September he went to Washington with his wife and baby 
     daughter, my sister Nancy, not one year old, and he was 
     invited to play his fiddle in Constitution Hall with Eleanor 
     Roosevelt in the audience.
       Fourteen years later, when I was four, he moved to the 
     Senate. The incumbent he defeated, Senator Kenneth D. 
     McKellar was a powerful chairman of the Appropriations 
     Committee, and sought to remind the voters of his power to 
     bring money to the state with his omnipresent slogan, ``A 
     thinking feller votes McKellar.''
       In keeping with my father's campaign philosophy had a 
     negative word about his opponent and always admonished his 
     supporters never to remove a McKellar sign. Instead, acting 
     on my mother's advice, we put up new sign directly underneath 
     McKellar's--every time we found a sign that said, ``The 
     thinking feller votes McKellar,'' we put our new sign 
     directly underneath it proclaiming, ``Think some more and 
     vote for Gore.'' (Laughter.)
       By defeating McKellar, and more broadly, the Crump machine, 
     he helped to establish the terms of a new politics for 
     Tennessee and the entire South--a progressive politics that 
     rejected race baiting and connected our region to the rest of 
     America. And he carried those values on to the national 
       In 1956, my father hoped to be Adlai Stevenson's running 
     mate. So did Estes Kefauver, who felt he had earned it. And 
     so did my father's friend and Senate classmate, John F. 
     Kennedy. It was quite a convention.
       I'm particularly proud that my father was way ahead of his 
     time in fighting for civil rights. Discrimination against 
     blacks deeply offended his sense of justice. He talked about 
     it to Nancy and me often.
       When I was eight years old, we lived in a little house in 
     Carthage on Fisher Avenue, halfway up a hill. At the top of 
     the hill was a big, old mansion. One day as the property was 
     changing hands, the neighbors were invited to an open house. 
     My father said, ``Come, son, I want to show you something.'' 
     So we walked up the hill and through the front door. But 
     instead of stopping in the parlor or the ornate dining room 
     or the grand staircase with all the guests, my father took me 
     down to the basement, and point to the dark, dank, stone 
     walls and the cold mettle rings lined up in a row--slave 
       Long after he left the classroom, my father was a teach. 
     And I thank God that he taught me to love justice.
       Not everyone was eager to learn. One unreconstructed 
     constituent once said, in reference to African Americans, 
     though that was not the term he used, ``I don't want to eat 
     with them, I don't want to live with them, I don't want my 
     kids to go to school with them.'' To which my father replied 
     gently, ``Do you want to go to heaven with them?'' After a 
     pause came the flustered response, ``No, I want to go to hell 
     with you and Estes Kefauver.'' (Laughter.)
       All that driving between Carthage and Nashville, and 
     between Carthage and Washington, made him impatient for 
     better roads. During World War II, he had been the first 
     congressman to decline a commission as an officer and joined 
     the Army as a private. FDR called all the congressmen back 
     from service. He later went back in, and during his service 
     in Germany, he was impressed by the autobahn. In 1956, he 
     personally authored and passed into law the Interstate 
     Highway Bill, the largest public works endeavor in the 
     history of humankind.
       We traveled down here this morning from Carthage on old 
     Highway 70, the same road he first took to Nashville 75 years 
     ago. It's a long way. He's taking his last trip home on I-40, 
     a part of the 44,000 miles of interstate that he created.
       He wrote and passed the first Medicare proposal ever to 
     pass on the Senate floor, in 1964. One year later, after the 
     Democratic landslide, Medicare became law. For more than a 
     decade he controlled all tax policy on the Senate floor, 
     because the majority of his colleagues had absolute trust in 
     his conscience, his commitment to fairness, and his keen 
     understanding of the law.
       He was the best speaker I ever heard. When he spoke on the 
     Senate floor the cloakrooms emptied, the galleries began to 
     fill, the pages sat in rapt attention. He had a clarity and 
     force that was quite remarkable. People wanted to hear him 
     speak and they wanted to know what he said, because they knew 
     that whatever he said he believed with his heart.
       Time and again, with the crispness of his logic and the 
     power of his oratory, he moved his listeners to adopt his 
     opinions and cheer. Indeed, in his very first speech on the 
     floor of the House of Representatives in 1939, the next day 
     The New York Times reported that his remarks--and I quote--
     ``stopped the show, and received an ovation of proportions 
     such as are usually reserved for elder statesmen.'' His 
     speech changed enough votes to defeat the bill he opposed. 
     That's what happens when you bring the house down.
       Keeping alive the tradition of Hull, he fought tirelessly 
     for reciprocal free trade--and he always emphasized that word 
     ``reciprocal.'' But he often quoted Hull, his mentor, as 
     saying, ``When goods do not cross borders armies do.''
       He was an early supporter of Israel. As chairman of the 
     Foreign Assistance Appropriations Subcommittee, in 1948, he 
     authored and passed the first American aid to the new Jewish 
     state. He was the nation's leading expert on outer space law 
     and authored the treaty banning weapons from space. He led 
     the fight to negotiate and ratify the Anti-Ballistic Missile 
     Treaty, an agreement which many believe was a turning point 
     in the nuclear arms race.
       And of course, he was an early, eloquent, and forceful 
     opponent of the Vietnam War--and it cost him his seat in the 
       My father was brave. I mean really brave. He opposed the 
     poll tax in the '40s, and supported civil rights in the '50s. 
     By the time he was in his final Senate term, I was old enough 
     to understand clearly the implications of the choices he made 
     when he repeatedly rejected the advice of many fearful 
     political allies who had urged him to trim his sails. He was 
     proud to support the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was damned 
     if he was going to support Hainesworth or Carswell, Nixon's 
     suspect nominees for the Supreme Court. And I was so proud of 
     that courage.
       And even then, he almost defied the odds and won. But a new 
     ill wind was blowing across the land. And in many ways he was 
     unprepared for the meaner politics that started in 1970. For 
     example, he never, ever had a press secretary on his payroll, 
     for 32 years. He was offended by the very thought of using 
     taxpayers' money to pay the salary of someone whose principal 
     job was to publicly flatter him. (Laughter.)
       He preferred to speak plainly for himself. Indeed, many 
     older Tennesseans will tell you that what they remember most 
     about my father was his Sunday radio broadcast on WSM, where 
     he presented the news from Washington ``as I see it.''
       The night he lost in 1970, he made me prouder still. He 
     said, defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul 
     and let the glory out. And then he turned the old southern 
     segregationist slogan on its head and declared, ``The truth 
     shall rise again.''
       I heard that. The next day was the first time I ever 
     remember our roles being reversed, the first time I gave back 
     to him what he taught me. We were in a canoe on the Caney 
     Fork, just the two of us. Near to despair, he asked, ``What 
     would you do if you had 32 years of service to the people 
     given to the highest of your ability, always doing what you 
     thought was right, and had then been unceremoniously turned 
     out of office? What would you do?'' I responded, ``I'd take 
     the 32 years, Dad.''
       It's not correct to say that he went back to his farm; 
     throughout his entire career in public service he never left 
     his farm. He loved to raise Angus cattle. In the audience 
     today are quite a few Angus breeders from around the country 
     who were among his closest friends. It was his recreation. He 
     always said, ``I'd rather find a new black calf in the weeds 
     than a golf ball in the grass.'' (Laughter.)
       Our farm was also an important school where he taught me 
     every day. He must have told me a hundred times the 
     importance of learning how to work. He taught me how to plow 
     a steep hillside with a team of mules. He taught me how to 
     clear three acres of heavily wooded forest with a double-
     bladed axe. He taught me how to take up hay all day in the 
     sun and then take up the neighbor's hay after dinner by 
     moonlight before the rain came.
       He taught me how to deliver a newborn calf when its mother 
     was having trouble. He taught me how to stop gullies before 
     they got started. He taught me how to drive, how to shoot a 
     rifle, how to fish, how to swim. We loved to swim together in 
     the Caney Fork River, off a big flat rock on the backside of 
     his farm.
       Once my father was giving a magazine reporter from New York 
     City a short tour of the farm when he came across a cow stuck 
     in the river mud. The reporter had no idea what to make of it 
     when he stripped naked and waded into the mud, emerging a 
     half hour later with his cow. (Laughter.)
       After he left the Senate he went into business. For ten 
     years he ran the second largest coal company in America, 
     driving back and forth on the interestate connecting 
     Tennessee with Lexington, Kentucky. At the time of his death 
     he was still serving as the senior director on the board of 
     Occidental Petroleum.
       But just as with farming, he had always been in business. 
     He owned a feed mill, a hardware store, and sporting goods 
     store, a towing and auto repair shop. He sold boats and 
     motors. He had a gasoline station. He leased the space for 
     three restaurants, a barber shop, a beauty shop, a natural 
     gas distributor, a veterinarian's office, and a union hall. 
     He ran a commercial egg production house with 10,000 
     chickens. He build and operated the first so-called pig 
     parlors in this

[[Page E2360]]

     part of the country. He developed real estate and built 
     houses and apartments for rent. He was always busy.
       When I eventually left journalism and entered politics, he 
     was also a source of invaluable advice in my races for the 
     House and Senate, and later when I ran for President he 
     personally campaigned in every single county in both Iowa and 
     New Hampshire. I constantly run into people in both states 
     who know him well, not from his days in the Senate, but from 
     his days as a tireless octogenarian campaigner.
       In 1992, when then Governor Clinton asked me to join his 
     ticket, my father became an active campaigner once again. At 
     the age of 84, he and my mother took their own bus trip that 
     year, and what a crew was on that bus--Albert and Pauline 
     Gore, Tony Randall, Mitch Miller, and Dr. Ruth. (Laughter.)
       He convinced one young man from our campaign to come back 
     to the farm with him. But the fellow soon left, and asked me, 
     how do you tell a man who is working beside you and is 84 
     years old that you are quitting because it's too hot and the 
     work is too hard? (Laughter.) I could have told him I learned 
     the answer to that one when I was still young--you don't. 
       At 85, he embarked on a major new project--the antique mall 
     and car museum in south Carthage. Two years ago, when he was 
     89, he was still driving his car. I had great difficulty 
     persuading him to stop. When I asked my friends and neighbors 
     in Carthage to help, one of them said, ``Oh, don't worry, Al, 
     we know his car--we just get off the road when we see him 
       Once, though, he didn't know his own car. He left the 
     store, got in somebody else's car and drove home. (Laughter.) 
     Carthage is the kind of place where people often leave the 
     keys in the ignition. Luckily, the store owner drove my 
     father's car up to his farm, left it in the driveway and then 
     drove the other fellow's care back to the store before he 
     knew it was missing. (Laughter.)
       There are so many people in Carthage who have bent over 
     backwards to help my parents, especially over the last few 
     years. My family is so grateful for the quality of kindness 
     in Smith County, and we thank you. And during the months and 
     weeks before my father's death, we've been blessed with the 
     devotion of a wonderful collection of around-the-clock 
     caregivers and doctors and nurses.
       Reverend Billy Graham wrote recently, ``We may not always 
     be aware of the presence of angles. We cannot always predict 
     how they will appear. But angels have been said to be our 
     neighbors.'' All I know is that my family is mighty grateful 
     to the people who have shown so much love to my father. And 
     we found out that a lot of our neighbors in Smith County and 
     the surrounding counties really are angels. A lot of them are 
     here today, and on behalf of my family I want to say thank 
       He died bravely and well. As it was written of the 
     patriarch, Abraham, ``he breathed his last and died at a good 
     old age, an old man and full of years, and he was gathered to 
     his people. And we know that those who walk uprightly enter 
     into peace, they find rest as they lie in death.''
       As many here know, it's hard to watch the sharpness of a 
     parent's face, hard to watch, in the words of the poet, ``how 
     body from spirit does slowly unwind until we are pure spirit 
     at the end.''
       We're a close family. But the time we had together over the 
     last few weeks to say good-bye truly brought us closer still. 
     We're grateful to all those who have reached out to us, many 
     of whom understand the need because they, themselves, have 
     suffered loss. As is our custom here, neighbors brought food 
     and we tried to concentrate on making ready for today.
       So here's what I decided I would like to say today--to that 
     young boy with the fiddle in Possum Hollow, contemplating his 
     future: I'm proud of the choices you made. I'm proud of the 
     road you traveled. I'm proud of your courage, your 
     righteousness, and your truth. I feel, in the words of the 
     poet, because my father ``lived his soul, love is the whole 
     and more than all.''
       I'll miss your humor, the sound of your laughter, your 
     wonderful stories and your sound advice, and all those times 
     you were so happy that you brought the house down.
       Dad, your whole life has been an inspiration. I'd take the 
     91 years--your life brought the house down.