Dec 13 2000: Al Gore concedes defeat to George W. Bush

“I accept the finality of the outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people, and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”

Those gracious words, spoken by Al Gore just after 9pm ET on Thursday, December 13, 2000, hold special significance at a time when the current U.S. president refuses to stand down — in particular, the day before Electoral College electors meet in their home states and cast their votes. The voting takes place throughout the day tomorrow, December 14th. The results will be announced January 6. 

With yesterday’s Proud Boys march in Washington disintegrating into violence, and Trump continuing to spew his vitriol on Twitter, it might be just the time to reflect on how Vice President Al Gore handled himself when he was up against Texas governor George W. Bush in the election of 2000. All eyes were on Florida, where the media first called Gore the winner, then retracted it, then called Bush the winner, and later retracted that too. Eventually a vote recount was initiated, but then stopped when the Florida Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Bush was declared the winner with 271 Electoral College votes — Gore had 266 — while Gore won the popular vote by about half a million votes. 

Despite the painful closeness of the race, it was a calm, dignified Gore who took the podium at the Ceremonial Office the evening of December 13th.  

Gore’s words were firm — “While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it” — but always respectful: “I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honour the new president-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together, in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines, and that our constitution affirms and defends.”

I know what you’re thinking. No comment.

Gore’s concession speech (7 min, 18 sec):

The trailer for Gore’s Oscar-winning movie on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth (3 min, 8 sec):

Highlights from the Bush-Gore presidential debate:

Lisa Simpson buys Al Gore’s book on The Simpsons (56 sec)