By choosing former Georgia governor Zell Miller as his running mate, Al Gore could add intellectual brainpower, rhetorical firepower, and lots of plain old populist piss-and-vinegar to this staid election.
Miller is widely and rightly acclaimed as the best governor in Georgia history. He created the HOPE scholarship--dedicating the proceeds from the Georgia lottery to college scholarships. Rather than a something-for-nothing giveaway, Miller insisted only students with a B average could get the college aid. That single accomplishment has transformed his state.
Ninety-seven percent of incoming freshmen at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are HOPE scholars, and the promise of a free education has kept the best and the brightest from fleeing to the Ivy League. Minority enrollment jumped from 18 percent of the total student population to 21 percent. And across the state, educators are reporting that parents are more engaged than ever in their children's education, because Junior's B average means they save thousands of dollars in college costs.
And for students who cannot keep a B average or decide not to go to college, HOPE will pay for community college or technical school. The goal is to assure every young person a shot at the American Dream.
But HOPE is only the beginning. As Governor, Miller championed a tough on crime "Two Strikes and You're Out" law to lock up repeat violent felons. He reformed welfare and made Georgia one of the top two in state-funded research and development.
Miller's substantive record of accomplishment as governor would stand in stark contrast to the Pablum record of Gov. George W. Bush. Other than laughing about executing women and giving sanctimonious sermons, Bush has spent his time as governor raising money and running for president. Like Bush, Miller is a rabid baseball fan. But while Bush has been the Mario Mendoza of governors, Miller has been the Hank Aaron.
Lest you think this New Democrat is nothing more than an old Republican, you should know that Zell Miller devoted a year of his...