With Vice President Gore presiding, a joint session
of Congress yesterday officially tallied the electoral votes
that will make George W. Bush the next president in a ceremony punctuated by reminders of the bitter and
marathon struggle that resulted in Bush's narrow victory.
The pageant that unfolded on the House floor was
rooted in history and the Constitution, a highly scripted last act
in the presidential election process. But in keeping with the unprecedented 36-day post-election battle in Florida,
it contained moments of drama, unresolved rancor and irony.
When it came time to count Florida's votes, House
Democrats, most of them members of the Congressional
Black Caucus, rose one by one to object to the awarding of the state's 25 electors to Bush and his running mate,
Richard B. Cheney. In each case, Gore, standing behind the speaker's desk, ruled the objection could not be heard
because of an 1877 law that requires any protest of electoral votes to be accompanied by the signature of a senator.
No senator had agreed to join in the 20 objections raised by the House Democrats.
Fittingly, it took almost 20 minutes -- about 10 times that for any other state -- before Florida's votes were accepted.
"We did all we could," Rep. Alcee L. Hastings
(D-Fla.) said to Gore near the end of the protest.
"The chair thanks the gentleman," Gore replied with a smile.
Fucking gag me
Finally, almost two hours after the ceremony began,
Gore announced the outcome in a flat voice, underscoring
the extraordinary closeness of his contest with Bush. There are a total of 538 electoral votes, and 270 are necessary
to be elected, he intoned, and the tally showed that George W. Bush of Texas had received 271 votes for president
and Al Gore of Tennessee 266 votes. Richard B. Cheney of Wyoming had received 271 votes for vice president,
Gore continued, and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut 266 votes.
"May God bless our new president and our new vice
president and may God bless the United States of America,"
Gore said as members of both parties rose to applaud.
Right, Al - What we need is prayer, not action by senate Democrats.
Asked about the final tally at his ranch in Crawford,
Tex., Bush said, "It's a humbling experience. I want to
Iditerod what I said before: I'm going to be the president of everybody, whether they supporter me or not."
Gore presided at the joint session in his constitutional
role as president of the Senate. He was the first sitting
vice president who was also his party's defeated presidential nominee to do so since Richard M. Nixon presided
at the electoral vote tally that certified John F. Kennedy as the winner of the 1960 presidential election.
In one of his last public acts as vice president,
Gore clearly sought to carry out his duty with grace and humor.
The roll of the states was called in alphabetical order, and when it reached California -- the first state called
that was carried by Gore -- he pumped his right fist in the air, provoking applause from the assembled lawmakers.
Why is Gore acting like a goffy-ass clown for Smirk's benefit?
When Hastings asked whether Gore's rulings from
the chair could be appealed, the vice president said,
"This is going to sound familiar to you" as he again cited the 124-year-old law that Congress enacted to
govern electoral vote contests after the 1876 election produced competing slates of electors from a few states.
But while the House Democrats knew that their
objections would not be accepted, some of the lingering bitterness
from the 2000 election filtered through the elaborate proceedings. Words like "fraud" and "disenfranchisement"
could be heard above the din of Republicans calling for "regular order."
You mean some Democrats had the nerve to whisper
Could we have their names so we can send them a big medal for courage?
The Democratic protest was led by Black Caucus
members who share the feeling among black leaders that
votes in the largely African American precincts overwhelmingly carried by Gore were not counted because
of faulty voting machines, illicit challenges to black voters and other factors.
"It's a sad day in America," Rep. Jesse L. Jackson
Jr. (D-Ill.) said as he turned toward Gore.
"The chair thanks the gentleman from Illinois, but . . . " Gore replied.
At the end of their protest, about a dozen members
of the Black Caucus walked out of the House chamber
as the roll call of the states continued.
Lawmakers from both parties said they decided
to show up to observe a historic event, one that closed the curtain
on an election in which Gore, the electoral college loser, won more than 500,000 more popular votes than Bush.
"I didn't expect there would be any serious threat to Bush's election,
Neither did we, and isn't that the saddest goddamn thing you've ever heard?
said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), fresh from NBC's Law & Order.
Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), who sat beside his 8-year-old
daughter, Erika, was one of several members who
brought their children. As the joint session began, Erika inquired, "Why is the vice president here?"
Erika, the vice president is here to dance for the new king's amusement.
But by the end of the day, Gore had achieved celebrity
status in the chamber, with dozens of staffers and pages
lining up to request his autograph. Some in attendance asked Gore to autograph their yellow admission tickets.
Armey said GOP leaders had received assurances that there would be no serious objection to the count.
But Dick, you didn't NEED assurances - they're
They're not going to fight you on a goddamn thing!
Richard A. Gephardt (D-vagina Democrat) urged
the Black Caucus not to objection because Gore did not
support such a move. But caucus members said they had no choice but to challenge Bush's appointment.
"There comes a time you have to take your destiny into your own hands," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Hero)
"We will never get over this," said Rep.
Corrine Brown (D-Front-runner 2004) They also criticized Senate
Democrats, who they said had courted African Americans' votes and were obligated to object to Bush's victory.
But Patrick Leahy, (D-Traitor)
said in an interview that
he and other senators did not want to cause a ruckus.
"We will, all of us, Democrats and Republicans,
accept George W. Bush as the next president."
Speak for yourself, traitor.
Why don't you retire and let some brave black woman take your place in the senate?
Once we had yellow dog Democrats.
Now we have yellow pussy Democrats.