An Alternate History of the Decade, Starring President Al Gore

As part of its reflection on the last ten years, Newsweek wonders how American politics might have been different different if Al Gore had won Bush v. Gore and been sworn in as president of the United States.

Essayist David Rakoff kicks off his alternate history of the decade with Gore's narrow victory in Bush v. Gore, leaving Justice Anton Scalia fuming. Once Gore is sworn in, there's an unpopular preemptive strike in Afghanistan before September 11th has a chance to happen, and Hurricane Katrina has a less disastrous outcome, but it's not all smooth sailing for Gore. His credibility is undercut when he signs a quickly neutered Patriot Act, and then there's the conflict with his own vice president, which starts on Inauguration Day:

Don Hewitt, producer, 60 Minutes: "I was too cold to go down to the Mall, and everything seemed kind of sour, frankly. So, I'm watching the feeds and in comes Scalia with his wife, and that's when we see Joe Lieberman throw his arms around him, and Hadassah leans in and kisses Maureen. Suddenly I'm screaming, 'Cut to Gore, cut to Gore!' I don't think the president saw it at the time. He definitely saw it afterward. I do know that Tipper never spoke to Hadassah again, never even looked at her again. This was on the first day!"

Rackoff outlines the fictional history of Gore's presidency up until the 2008 election (which features a very different pair of tickets), along with imagined commentary from a familiar crew of pundits and talking heads.

If Gore Had Won: An Oral History of the Last Decade [Newsweek via reddit]