JIM LEHRER:  Good evening, Governor Bush, Vice President Gore, Webmaster Alex Sandell. Governor Bush, the first question goes to you. Governor, both Senator Lieberman and Secretary Cheney said they were sympathetically rethinking their views on same-sex relationships. What's your position on that?

GOV. BUSH: I'm not for gay marriage. I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. And I appreciated the way the administration signed the Defense of Marriage Act. I assume the vice president supported it when the president signed that bill, and supports it now. But I think -- I think marriage is a sacred institution. I'm going to be respectful for people who may disagree with me. I've had a record of doing so in the state of Texas. I've been a person that's been called a uniter, not a divider, because I accepted some -- I accept other people's points of view. But I feel strongly that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

MR. LEHRER: Vice President Gore?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I agree with that.  And I did support that law

MR. LEHRER:  Webmaster Sandell?

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  I support gay marriage 100%, Jim.  If you were to ask one of my fellow candidates WHY they didn't support gay marriage, they couldn't give you an honest answer.  They may say it's a "sacred institution between a man and a woman" but they couldn't tell you why allowing a man and a man or a woman and a woman to get married would take anything away from the sanctity of a man and a woman marrying one-another.  This is homophobia, plain and simple.  Bush and Gore are talking out of both sides of their mouth.  Neither wants to get on the bad side of homosexuals, but, at the same time, they don't want middle-America thinking that they're too "radical" by allowing two humans, who are deeply in love, no matter what sex, to unite in marriage.  Vice President Gore talks about a "civic union" between a same-sex couple giving them all of the benefits of a marriage.  This is simply not a feasible alternative.  For one, if an American man falls in love with a woman from Australia, the two of them can get married and she can come into the country and they can make a life together.  Al Gore has, to his credit, proposed giving a green card to people in a civic union with an American, so they can come to this country, but that proposal isn't going to fly in  the House and Senate.  There is one other significant difference between a "civic union" and a marriage; if you're in a "civic union," you still aren't married!  These people ARE in love, and they, like a male-female couple, want to show their love for each other by being married!

MR. LEHRER: Governor Bush, do you believe, in general terms, that gays and lesbians should have the same rights as other Americans?

GOV. BUSH: Yes. I don't think they ought to have special rights, but I think they ought to have the same rights.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, there's a law pending called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I strongly support it. What it says is that gays and lesbians can't be fired from their job because they're gay or lesbian. And it would be a federal law preventing that. Now I wonder if the -- it's been blocked by the opponents in the majority in the Congress. I wonder if the Governor would lend his support to that law.

MR. LEHRER: Governor?

GOV. BUSH: (Inaudible) -- is the questioning coming around here?

MR. LEHRER: Well, it's a logical reply --

GOV. BUSH: Well, I have no idea. I mean, he can throw out all kinds -- I don't know the particulars of this law. I will tell you, I'm the kind of person -- I don't hire or fire somebody based upon their sexual orientation.

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  Oh, way to come back, Bush.  The question was whether or not you'd lend your support to a law saying that gays and lesbians can't be fired from their job because they're gay or lesbian.  You politicians have such a problem with simple "yes" or "no" questions.  If you ask me whether or not I would support that law, I would give a definite "yes."

GOV. BUSH:  I'll tolerate people. And I support equal rights but not special rights for people.

MR. LEHRER: And "special rights" -- how does that affect gays and lesbians?

GOV. BUSH: Well, it'd be if they're given special protective status. And that doesn't mean we shouldn't fully enforce laws and fully protect people and fully honor people, which I will do as the president of the United States.

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  I don't think saying you can't fire a gay or lesbian because they're gay or lesbian is a "special right."  I don't think someone should be able to fire somebody else because of where they stick their dick or slap their tongue when they go home from work at night. 

MR. LEHRER: New subject, new question, Vice President Gore. How do you see the connection between controlling gun sales in this country and the incidence of death by accidental or intentional use of guns?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Jim, I believe that -- well, first of all let me say that the governor and I agree on some things where this subject is concerned. I will not do anything to affect the rights of hunters or sportsmen. I think that homeowners have to be respected, and the right to have a gun if they wish to. The problem I see is that there are too many guns getting into the hands of children and criminals and people who, for whatever reason -- some kind of history of stalking or domestic abuse -- really should not be able to get guns. I think these assault weapons are a problem. So I favor closing the gun show loophole. In fact, I cast the tie-breaking vote to close it, but then the majority in the House of Representatives went the other way. That's still pending. If we could get agreement on that, maybe they could pass that in the final days of this Congress. I think we ought to restore the three-day waiting period under the Brady Law. I think that we ought to make all schools gun free, have a gun- free zone around every school in this country. I think that measures like these are important; child safety trigger locks on a mandatory basis, and others.

MR. LEHRER: Governor?

GOV. BUSH: Well, it starts with enforcing the law, and we need to say loud and clear to somebody, If you're going to carry a gun illegally, we're going to arrest you. If you're going to sell a gun illegally, you need to be arrested, and if you commit crime with a gun, there needs to be absolute certainty in the law. And that means that the local law enforcement officials need help at the federal level; need programs like Project Exile, where the federal government intensifies arresting people who illegally use guns. And we haven't done a very good job of that at the federal level recently, and I'm going to make it a priority. Secondly, I don't think we ought to be selling guns to people who shouldn't have them. That's why I support instant background checks at gun shows. One of the reasons we have an instant background check is so that we instantly know whether or not somebody should have a gun or not. In Texas, I tried to do something innovatively, which is that, you know, there's a lot of talk about, you know, trigger locks being on guns sold in the future. I support that. But I said, Listen, if you want a trigger lock to make your gun safe, come to -- come and get one for free. And so we're distributing in our state of Texas for free. I think we ought to raise the age at which a juvenile can carry a handgun from 18 to 21. I disagree with the vice president on this issue. I don't -- he's for registration of guns. I think the only people who are going to show up to register or get a license -- I guess licensing, like a driver's license with a gun -- the only people who are going to show up are law-abiding citizens. The criminals are not going to show up and say, "Hey, give me my ID card." It's the law-abiding citizens who'll do that. And I just -- I don't think that's going to be an effective tool to make the -- keep our society safe.

MR. LEHRER:  Webmaster?

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  I take issue with the Governor for being a complete moron.  First of all, he's contradicting himself.  He tells us, time and time again, that he wants the Federal Government out of our lives, and now he's telling us that we need a program like Project Exile, which is a huge Federal program.  He says he will make it a priority, but he already told us that he will make getting "big government" out of people's lives a priority.  I'm not sure which side he's on.  Bush also tells us that he does not support registration of guns because only the law-abiding citizens will show up to get their guns registered.  This may be true, but like any good Republican should know, things "trickle down," and these guns, the ones the "law-abiding" citizens register, could very easily end up in a criminal's hands.  Registration will make people more careful not to let their guns get into the wrong hands, and, if they do, and someone is shot and killed, as a consequence, the law-abiding citizens aren't really all that abiding, after-all, are they?  I take issue, too, with Vice President Gore, for being weak-willed.  He's not willing to do enough to stop gun violence in America.  As President, I will support OUTLAWING handguns in the home, all-together.  If you love the shooting range, you can check out a gun, or even buy a gun there, you just can't take it home with you.  I don't see why there would be a problem with this.  When you go to a movie, do you expect to take the film with you when you leave?  You have your fun playing a macho thug by popping off your little gun, and then you go home and watch professional wrestling and the dukes of hazzard.  Your gun will be waiting at the shooting range for you, the next time you need to take out your aggressions on a make-believe enemy.  As for the gun collectors, well . . . fuck the gun collectors; they can find something a bit more constructive to do with their time. 

GOV. BUSH: Let me say something about Columbine.

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  Good GAWD!  Is there anything left to say?  When black students get shot up, the media turns the other way.  When it happens to some rich white kids, we can't spend a day without someone talking about it.  This is a racist nation and that is the REAL problem.  But, go ahead, George, talk about Columbine and distract us from the real issues. 

GOV. BUSH: We ought to have gun-free schools. Everybody believes that. I'm sure every state in the unions got them. You can't carry a gun into a school. And there ought to be a consequence when you do carry a gun into a school. But Columbine spoke to a larger issue, and it's really a matter of culture. It's a culture that somewhere along the line, we've begun to disrespect life, where a child can walk in and can have their heart turned dark as a result of being on the Internet, and walk in and decide to take somebody else's life. So gun laws are important, no question about it. But so is loving children and, you know, character education classes, and faith-based programs being a part of after-school programs.

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  Odd to hear someone in favor of the Death Penalty, talk about disrespecting life.  Now you're blaming the Internet for turning hearts dark?  It's all the Internet's fault?  What about the fault of a society who has left the youth behind?  Sure, you and Gore talk about helping children, and you talk about helping seniors, but what about the disaffected teens and twenty-something's?  Who is helping THEM?  No one is trying to get to the heart of the problem, we're just trying to put a band-aid over it by blaming the Internet, or Eminem, or the newest horror movie, or sex on TV.  These aren't the PROBLEMS; these are the only things that are speaking to the problem.  Without these, where would a teenager turn?  To politicians?  You're all too busy pandering to middle-class PARENTS and retired old farts.  Teens aren't apathetic because they're lazy, they're apathetic because they don't think any major politician in the two-party system gives a damn about them, and they're right.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I also believe in the Golden Rule.

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  Did I mention the Golden Rule?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE:  And I agree with a lot of the other things that the Governor has said. We do have a serious problem in our culture. Tipper and I have worked on the problem of violence and entertainment aimed at children. She's worked on it longer than I have. But I feel very strongly about that, and if I'm elected president, I will do something about that.

WEBMASTER SANDELL:  This is what I'm talking about!  You guys don't want to help disaffected teens, you want to censor their entertainment.  One of the few things that bring them pleasure in life, and all you dorks can do is talk about getting rid of it because it may say the "F"-word or talk about sex.  In the meantime, you're busy cheating on your wives and making up any story you can think of to get your sorry asses elected.

Oh, hell, I've had enough of you guys.  I'm out of here.  Go back to talking about the projected surplus and protecting Social Security.  Oh, and get Ralph Nader into the next debate, he deserves to be heard.

The End

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