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Property in the Balance

From the Scrapbook.

Jun 14, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 37
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The Scrapbook has no official observation on last week’s surprise announcement that Al and Tipper Gore have separated after 40 years of marriage. Other than the obvious, of course: namely, that it is never good news when a marriage which has endured for four decades comes to an end by way of press release; and presumably, the Gores will be seeking a divorce. In which case, since their four children are grown, there will be some mutually agreed-upon division of assets and property before any final decree.

Property in the Balance

Photo Credit: The Tennessean

Which brings us to our friends at the Washington Examiner, who provide an interesting accounting of the Gore family holdings. Before he left public office in January 2001, Vice President Al Gore’s family net worth was estimated to be in the range of a million dollars. Six years later it was thought to be somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million—an impressive jump, even by the standards of Bush-era prosperity.

But what really widened The Scrapbook’s eyes was the list of residences owned and inhabited by the former Second Couple. Just a few weeks ago the Gores purchased a 6,500-square-foot villa in the gated community of Montecito, California, featuring five bedrooms and nine baths, a spa, swimming pool, and ocean view (price: $8.8 million). This was in addition to their multimillion-dollar mansion in Nashville’s exclusive Belle Meade neighborhood, a Tudor-style house in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va., the famous Gore family farm in Carthage, Tenn. (where young Al used to “plant, raise, cut, and dry” tobacco), a condominium in San Francisco, and a 100-foot houseboat called Bio-Solar One

Far be it from The Scrapbook to begrudge anyone enjoying the fruits of their labor—or procuring enough space to house their Shaker furniture and stamp collection. But by our rough calculation, the eco-minded, empty-nested, Nobel laureate Gores seem to occupy something well in excess of 20,000 square feet of planet Earth, with all the attendant electrical outlets, sewerage hook-ups, gas mains, labor-saving devices, land lines, water pipes, light bulbs, heaters and air-conditioning units, ranges, microwave ovens, computer paraphernalia and Internet connections, assorted motors, compressors, generators, and crankcases—not to mention the cost of transportation between the houseboat and the condo, Arlington and the farm, or Christmas in Belle Meade followed by New Year’s in Montecito. 

Surely, that’s a carbon footprint worthy of Al Gore’s stature, and it ought to keep the family lawyers busy for awhile.

Kass Acts

Two who reside high on the (short and selective) list of people THE SCRAPBOOK really admires—Amy and Leon Kass—are retiring at the end of this term after nearly three and a half decades of teaching at the University of Chicago. They are being showered with appropriate honors—Amy is receiving the Norman Maclean Faculty Award for outstanding contributions to teaching at the alumni convocation on June 5, and students from around the country are coming to Hyde Park to celebrate and express their gratitude to the Kasses at a reception on campus.

For those who won’t have been in Chicago, and who may not be direct students of the Kasses, there’s still a chance to learn from and about them, and to honor them, in a different way: Acquire the volume of essays that’s just been published by Rowman & Littlefield, Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver: Honoring the Work of Leon R. Kass. The book features, along with an invaluable bibliography of Kass’s works, 16 essays whose “consistently high quality .  .  . makes this volume a fitting tribute to a stellar thinker and gifted teacher” (as our colleague William Kristol observes in his blurb).

Some of the contributions deal with Kass’s own work—notably, the essays by frequent TWS contributors Eric Cohen, Yuval Levin, and Paul McHugh. Others address varied writers and thinkers in diverse but always insightful ways: You’ll read Homer, Sophocles, Jane Austen, and Henry James differently (and better!) after pondering Amy Kass on the Odyssey, Paul Ludwig on Antigone, Adam Schulman on Pride and Prejudice, and Harvey Mansfield on Washington Square. It’s a spectacular festschrift, assembled for a remarkable thinker and teacher. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of the marvelous anthology edited, appropriately, by both Kasses: Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying.

The Scrapbook is pleased to join in the celebration of both of the -Kasses’ achievements.

Flying Pigs Alert

A rare tip of The Scrapbook’s homburg to the editors of the Washington Post for a pungent attack on the all-Democratic Montgomery County, Md., board and its free-spending, public union-coddling ways:

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