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Al Gore's book boost

Al Gore’s book boost — Dan Quale whips up publicity for Gore’s ”Earth in the Balance”

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Dan Quayle accomplished at least one thing in the vice presidential debate: He whipped up publicity for Al Gore’s environmental treatise, Earth in the Balance. Quayle cited page 304 as asserting that the U.S. should spend $100 billion a year to clean up the global environment. ”No,” Gore insisted. ”You’ve got it wrong.”

The American people clearly knew how to figure out who was right. In the first week after the debate, they bought 7,000 copies of the book, propelling it to No. 8 from No. 14 on The New York Times best-seller list. (Most weeks during the campaign, the book has stayed on the charts by selling just a few hundred copies.)

”It was an excellent publicity ploy on Quayle’s part,” says Irene Williams, a spokeswoman for Houghton Mifflin, which has printed 240,000 copies since January. But don’t assume the buyers are Democrats: ”For all I know,” says Williams, ”they’re Republicans, and they may be burning them afterward. But we don’t care.”