Gore Backs Away from Exaggerated Claim

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Vice President Al Gore Wednesday explained that he did not mean to give the impression that he's the one who "made a huge difference" in uncovering the chemical contamination of Love Canal.

At a high school forum in New Hampshire Tuesday, Gore told students about his early days as a congressman from Tennessee - when a little girl wrote to him, saying that her father and grandfather were sick because of well water that "tasted funny."

Gore told the students, "I called for a congressional investigation and a hearing. I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hearing on that issue," Gore said. "That was the one that started it all ... We made a huge difference and it was all because one high school student got involved."

Gore did chair hearings on Love Canal, but it happened in August 1978 - two months after Love Canal homes were evacuated and President Carter declared the neighborhood a disaster area.

"If anybody got the misimpression that I claimed to do what citizens in Love Canal did, I apologize,'' Gore said Wednesday in a telephone call to an upstate New York reporter. "I give credit to Louis Gibbs and her neighbors for raising Cain. Many people were stirred up - appropriately so - before I ever even found out about it."

Lois Gibbs, who led the Love Canal Home Owners Association, Wednesday gave Gore credit for being the first one to hold a federal hearing on toxic waste in America. But she said Gore found out about the problem, only after the people of Love Canal and New York officials brought it to the federal government's attention.

Gore's been accused of exaggerating before - notably, with his claims that he invented the Internet and that he was the inspiration for the movie "Love Story."