A handful of Republicans attempted to defend GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s unprecedented refusal to recognize the legitimacy of November’s election by pointing to former Vice President Al Gore, who spent weeks challenging former President George W. Bush’s ascension to the White House after his election as president.
A number of journalists challenged this comparison on Twitter, spinning an impressive yarn of revisionism.
The airy disdain from Moulitsas is especially surprising in that Sen. Cornyn is a former justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and served as Texas attorney general prior to his election to the Senate.
Comparing Trump’s statements in recent days to the facts of the 2000 Florida recount is dubious in important respects. But the statements from Reid, Moulitsas, and others are not accurate.
To be sure, the procedural history of Bush v. Gore is a little tricky. The issues the case implicated were adjudicated in a number of county, state, and federal district courts before they reached the august chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court. And it’s also true that Bush drew first blood on the litigation front — he filed a challenge at the U.S. District Court in Miami to stop Palm Beach County from conducting a manual recount of its over half a million ballots. Bush lost on that issue in that court. (RELATED: Fact Check: Hillary Wrong On Heller, Key Second Amendment Ruling)
But what matters is that the challenge which reached the Supreme Court in December 2000 was brought by Al Gore. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified the Florida results and awarded the state’s electoral votes (and the election) to Bush on Nov. 26. Gore challenged the certification in state court, arguing that hundreds of thousands of votes in Miami-Dade county had not yet been tallied. The case was dismissed. Gore appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, where a four-justice majority sided with him and ordered a statewide manual recount.
At this point, Bush appealed to the Supreme Court. So it is accurate to say that Bush brought the case to the highest court in the land, but he did so because he was appealing a lower court ruling which was occasioned by Gore’s lawsuit.
To assert, as Reid and Moulitsas do, that it was Bush who brought a lawsuit is just incorrect. Gore brought a lawsuit. Bush lost. Bush appealed. He was the petitioner seeking review of a case which Gore brought in the first place.
Or as one Twitter user pithily explained the matter:
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