</color></bold><color><param>0000,00D7,0000</param>> Shortly after
that, he bought the newly introduced Apple Macintosh computer --
> and immediately fell in love with it. "I was a big Mac fan," he said.
> upgraded through several Macintosh models, eventually to a laptop
> "dock" in a desktop unit. But last year, in what Gore calls "a sad
> reluctantly switched over to PCs that run on Microsoft Corp.'s
> operating system. "I did it because of the problem in getting new
software on a
> timely basis and the fact that some programs are not done for the Mac
> said. "I still believe it's a superior format and I still prefer it.
But for my
> purposes I've had to switch over, and I hate it."
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Saturday, Nov. 29, 1997;
When President Clinton travels, a
black suitcase containing the codes
to launch nuclear weapons is
always with him.
Al Gore's sidekick is a black IBM
Unlike Clinton's suitcase, Gore's
ThinkPad 560, which can't launch
missiles, is always in use. On Air Force Two. In the limo. In the
"holding room" before he gives a speech. Almost any time and place
he's got a
free minute and "secure" telephone connection, he's checking his
Gore is an e-mail addict, people on his staff say. Every day, he reads
more than a hundred messages and sends out almost as many, sometimes
it from his residence late into the night. During staff meetings in
White House aides say, he often has one eye on his computer screen,
through new arrivals in his mailbox.
He's just as psyched about the rest of the Internet. In a recent
Tracy Chapman tunes thumping from the speakers attached to the screen
office computer, the vice president demonstrated his technological
taking a reporter on a tour of his favorite World Wide Web sites.
Starting off with his White House homepage on the screen
(http://www.whitehouse. gov/WH/EOP/OVP/html/GORE_Home. html), he
jumped to a site called MapQuest, which he uses whenever his children
directions. Then there were the weather pages, which, he said, "I
always look at before I travel." Next came the politics sites,
including one run
by CNN and Time magazine called AllPolitics. "I never use those," he
After dropping in on an investment-related site and one devoted to
news, Gore showed off several software applications he had downloaded
the global network and configured to work on his machine. One included
horizontal map of the world that sits in the corner of one's screen
where it's daytime and where it's dark. "It's like the clocks they
have at the
CIA," Gore said proudly. "Except they use a thousand-dollar version
on the wall. I got this one for something like 25 bucks."
Gore has long had a reputation of being steeped in the stellar issues
technology policy. It was he who popularized the term "information
superhighway." He has crusaded to connect the nation's schools to the
and develop a super-fast version of the computer network. He hobnobs
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and a coterie of West Coast
But over the last few years Gore has made technology a central part of
his stump speeches but his own office. For the vice president's staff,
in the White House's West Wing and the adjoining Old Executive Office
Building, e-mailing has become the primary method of communication --
especially with the boss.
People at all levels, from young speech writers to Gore, troll the
Internet to read
out-of-town newspapers and conduct research. In meetings, Gore often
on a large, erasable "white board" that sends a copy of his
scribblings to a
The result has been one of political Washington's most atypical
Junior staffers frequently message Gore directly with questions,
layers of bureaucracy. "He's the vice president," said Greg Simon,
former chief domestic policy adviser. "You just can't pop in and ask
question." But you can with e-mail.
At the same time, Gore says he uses e-mail so he won't bother his
"I just find [e-mail] to be a much easier way to communicate because
have to worry about calling your staff on the telephone at a time when
the middle of doing something else or when the number is busy or when
out eating lunch or . . . they really ought to be devoting their time
to a higher
priority matter than the one I want to get an answer to," Gore said in
interview. "Yet, if I call them they're going to think, `This is the
right now,' and it's really not."
It doesn't always work like that. Simon rigged up his Macintosh
sound a special chime whenever new mail from the vice president
generally respond to it right away," Simon said. "Even if he wasn't on
end of a phone line, I didn't want to keep him waiting."
While he exploits the courtesy of e-mail, Gore also understands its
nature. Meeting with advisers for a substantive face-to-face
generally requires blocking off time on his calendar days in advance.
e-mail, he can communicate with anybody on the staff, even the most
people" said Daniel Pink, Gore's former chief speech writer. "In many
defies the generational divide in the White House."
Gore is known for having proper "Netiquette." He generally responds
important messages within 24 hours, often sooner, according to aides.
In addition to the 100 to 150 messages a day he receives in his
-- sent by White House staffers and close friends outside the compound
said he gets about 400 a day at a public address
(firstname.lastname@example.org). Those messages are read by aides,
sometimes forward particularly thought-provoking ones to him.
Recently, the vice president's e-mail has also aroused interest on
Because a copy of every message that's sent and received is saved on
computer disk, White House lawyers have had to turn over some of those
to congressional investigators probing whether Gore broke campaign
laws during the 1996 election.=20
For Gore, office messaging doesn't always dwell on government
When his daughter Karenna got engaged, he delivered the news to his
e-mail -- a tool he uses to stay in touch with her and her two
But there are still some people Gore can't reach with e-mail. The most
one is his boss.
President Clinton "doesn't use e-mail very much now, but he plans to
Gore said. "One of the driving forces that will push him to get on the
on a regular basis is the fact that Chelsea is going to college in
told him of the joys of communicating with your children off at
college by way
Gore doesn't let travel take him away from e-mail. Here's how he
routine: "If I'm scheduled real tightly, as is often the case, then my
assistant will make the connection, update it and download what work
done," he said. "And then, if I've got a 10-minute ride in the car to
stop, I'll spend that 10 minutes going through e-mail, updating it,
and then in
the next holding room my assistant will update it again. I'll do that
the day when I'm on the road."
Does he ever goof off on the Internet in the office?
"Oh, it's almost always relevant," Gore said, laughing. "Dilbert would
some of the excuses I put the Web to."
In an e-mail message sent to this reporter, Gore said that in the
while serving as a congressman from Tennessee, he began using his
to blip notes to friends. Around the same time, he purchased his first
computer: one of the original, clunky IBM PCs.
Shortly after that, he bought the newly introduced Apple Macintosh
and immediately fell in love with it. "I was a big Mac fan," he said.
upgraded through several Macintosh models, eventually to a laptop that
"dock" in a desktop unit. But last year, in what Gore calls "a sad
reluctantly switched over to PCs that run on Microsoft Corp.'s
operating system. "I did it because of the problem in getting new
software on a
timely basis and the fact that some programs are not done for the Mac
said. "I still believe it's a superior format and I still prefer it.
But for my
purposes I've had to switch over, and I hate it."
These days, Gore uses a souped-up Compaq Computer Corp. machine in
office, complete with 17-inch monitor, an integrated tuner that can
television programs in an on-screen window (he generally sets it on
CNN) and a
video camera (his aides say he's planning to start video
he's on the road, he uses his ThinkPad 560, which, with its
Pentium microprocessor, is among the fastest laptops on the market
home, he's got another IBM ThinkPad.
Gore says he uses the Web on a regular basis, typically checking out
by news organizations. Those he frequently visits, he said, include
Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, newspapers in New York and
as well as the New Republic and Slate -- where his daughter used to
a big news event, he has been known to stay up late -- or wake up in
of the night -- to check early editions of The Washington Post and the
He said he uses Web-browsing software made by both Microsoft and
Communications Corp. "I end up using Netscape a little more often,
but I go back and forth. There are some sites where Microsoft will
advantage," he said. "I know the people involved with both, so there's
Gore keeps himself wired into Netscape and the rest of the Silicon
through informal monthly meetings with about two dozen technology
The group, nicknamed "Gore-Tech," has met over pizza and beer to
issues such as using software to filter objectionable material on the
improving communication between teachers and parents through computer
"We don't have to talk down to him," said Marc Andreessen, the
co-founder of Netscape and a regular member of the group. "He has a
good conceptual understanding of technology."
Political analysts say Gore's computer savviness could be a mixed
blessing if he
runs for president in 2000. On the one hand, it risks perpetuating his
on the other, it could portray him as young and hip, they say. His
of computers also could generate important financial support from the
technology industry, they add.=20
But Gore says he's on the computer because he loves it. "It's fun," he
"It's really fun."
Staff writer Dan Balz contributed to this report.
=A9 Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company
Don't ask what you can do for your country,
ask what your country can do for you. ...Megadeth
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