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13

FRIDAY

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Radical journalist Alexander Cockburn’s worldview might best be described as Manichean. In his eyes, political figures are either all-good or all-evil. In his work, they’re nearly always evil—a ratio that may be statistically accurate but that also makes for dull, predictable prose whenever Cockburn’s gaze ventures into the shady world of mainstream party politics. Thus, you can count on Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Al Gore: A User’s Manual to present the vice president as a dishonest, opportunistic shill for big business who coddles racists, McCarthyites, puritans, and other undesirables. The problem with this account is not that the authors demolish Gore’s absurd “populist” incarnation. It’s that they could have written almost the same book about, say, Michael Dukakis, not to mention George W. Bush. Don’t look for shades of gray when Cockburn discusses the veep at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s, 1239 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free. 202-338-9544. (Michael Schaffer)