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As the world faces the threats of climate change, it's tempting to think what would have happened if an environmentalist had won the most votes in the 2000 presidential election. But, wait a minute; Al Gore did win the most votes. He just didn't win the election because of a fluke in the way the Constitution structures the presidential election: indirect selection through an electoral college.

Due to the state-by-state, winner-takes-all Electoral College, a candidate who narrowly wins more states can win with a minority of the votes. You can't get any narrower than George W. Bush's election in Florida: He won by 500 votes out of 5 million. Voting along party lines, the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recounts, and Bush was declared the winner of the election.

Ironically enough, under the recount rules Gore initially requested, Bush would have won, and under the rules Bush requested, Gore would have won. The election was that close. In a further irony, Ralph Nader's environmentalist Green Party bid had siphoned off enough votes to deny environmentalist Gore a clear victory.

Texas governor to U.S. President

George Bush grew up around the White House while his dad was Reagan's vice president and then a one-term president on his own. Young Bush had been a popular governor of Texas and cultivated a close relationship with Moral Majority Christians, based on his own story of being born again to true religion after a wild youth.

Without trying to turn the clock back on New Deal social reforms, Bush campaigned on social issues: he was against abortion and in favor of business growth. His faith-based social services distributed billions of dollars through Christian religious organizations that were supposed to provide social help, not religious preaching, to stay clear of the First Amendment's prohibition of the establishment of a government-supported religion.

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