After Richard Nixon's televised debate against photogenic John Kennedy, conventional wisdom held that thenceforth, all presidential candidates would be on-screen charmers, charismatic and glib. This election proved that untrue.
With George W Bush, who once said, "Let's make sure that there is certainty during uncertain times in our economy," you never knew what would come out of his mouth, and that was half the fun.
Unlike Bush, Al Gore probably talked sense, but you couldn't stay awake long enough to know for sure. After his nomination, in order to counter his reputation as "wooden," Gore put his arms around his wife Tipper and gave her a big old smooch on the lips. This was about as convincing as Matthew Broderick playing Tarzan.
The real fun, though, came on election night. Around 7:00 PM, some networks began declaring Gore had carried Florida's electoral votes, then at 10:00 PM, they moved Florida back to the "undecided" column, then around 2:30 they declared Bush the winner. Then, Bush's lead dwindled to less than 2,000 votes and Gore, who'd already called Bush to concede, un-conceded.
Bush's lead was somewhere between 300 to 900 votes depending on how many absentee ballots you wanted to count. But in four heavily Democratic counties there were 70,000 ballots that had been rejected by the voting machines.
A recount began, but Florida statue mandated the count had to be completed by November 14. The State Supreme Court extended the deadline to November 26. After Miami Dade County resubmitted its ballots, Bush was still ahead by over 500 votes, but Palm Beach County did not even meet the extended deadline.
Bush was certified the winner of this crucial state, and Al challenged the result. In the end, George won the presidency by a mere five votes - the 7-2 decision by the Supreme Court.
George Bush: 271
Al Gore: 266
Al Gore: 266