That Al Gore, he's quite a character, claiming that he invented the Internet, isn't he? It's an urban legend, but not the way you might guess. He never said it. Not only that, but he has every right to brag about his role in legislating the development of the Internet.

According to the Republican National Committee attack ad, Gore's claim is yet another deplorable example of his shifty character. To the pundits, the TV spot means George Bush Jr. can't run a clean campaign.

When it comes to Al Gore and the Internet, however, the GOP commercial is 100% horse puckey. He's the guy who did the most to put the Web on your kitchen table.

Gore never claimed that he invented the Internet. He said, "During my service in the U.S. Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." This just happens to be absolutely true. When most politicians still thought a byte was an example of how Johnny couldn't spell, Al Gore already had a complete vision of computers connecting to computers for the benefit of mankind.

In March, 1986, he sponsored the Supercomputer Network Study Act, a plan to figure out how to get the nation's silicon resources linked to the nation's public information needs.

"Libraries, rural schools, minority institutions and vocational education programs will have access to the same national resources -- databases, supercomputers, accelerators -- as more affluent and better-known institutions," he said, according to New York Daily News columnist Lars Erik Nelson, who examined the controversy earlier this year.

At the time, what is now the Internet had only just begun to evolve from a Defense Department project called Arpanet, started in 1969 to try to make sure key computer installations would function even after a nuclear attack. By 1986, access to the network was mostly limited to government facilities and academic institutions -- some 5,000 computer hosts in all.

"Back in the '80s, Mr. Gore was the only national political figure who understood what the Internet could mean to America's future...when Apple still didn't even have e-mail," wrote Internet pioneer Jaron Lanier (who invented the term "virtual reality") in a letter published in the Washington Post April 21, 1999.

In 1991, then-Senator Gore introduced the High Performance Computing Act. Reluctantly signed into law by President Bush, who favored a more gradual approach, Gore's bill made about $2 billion of government money available for development of the Internet. Since then, the Internet has grown from 376,000 hosts to more than 72 million as a direct result of Al Gore's visionary legislation.

The very term "information superhighway" first came to public notice in the writings of Al Gore. "He deserves bragging rights," Lanier concluded.

Despite this very well-documented history, news reports fail to mention that the Bush commercial is a fake, just like so many other stories that portray the Vice President as self-invented.

Gore never said that he and Tipper were models for the main characters in Eric Segal's novel Love Story. He referred to an article in The Tennessean attributing the statement to Segal -- erroneously, as it turned out. Then Segal confirmed that he did draw on Gore for a principal character. Still the story refuses to die.

Gore never claimed that he discovered the Love Island disaster. The story was faked in a press release widely distributed by the Republican National Committee.

Robert Parry explained in Washington Monthly that Gore told a group of Concord, N.H., high school students that a girl from Toone, Tenn., had complained to him about toxic waste pollution. He investigated, held Congressional hearings, looked for other examples and came up with Love Canal.

Toone "was the one that started it all," Gore said. The GOP changed this to "I started it all." Unscrupulous right wing publications such as the Washington Times and the New York Post picked this up, and national media called Gore "delusional" "a liar," "Pinocchio," Parry says.

David Letterman jumped in with "Top 10 Achievements Claimed by Al Gore." The Concord kids, outraged by the way Gore's remarks were twisted, issued their own press release: "Top 10 Reasons Why Many Concord High Students Feel Betrayed by Some of the Media Coverage of Al Gore's Visit to Their School."

Oh, sure, those naughty Republicans are playing dirty by making personal attacks. That's a story. But it's a fact that Gore didn't lie at all, and that the ridicule is based on false reports spread by the Republican National Committee and its gullible media allies.

-- JULES SIEGEL Apdo 1764 Cancun Q. Roo 77501 http://www.cafecancun.com Fax1.530.706.8739 Tel 1-52-98 83-36-29

why doesn't ladybird johnson cleanup the internet? i mean the information highway.....