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If elected president, Internet inventor Al Gore will "lead a second American Revolution to make our government far less costly, far more effective and far more relevant to every American," by wiring virtually all federal services to the Web by 2003, he promised during a speech delivered at North Carolina State University on Monday.

"The power of government should not be locked away in Washington but put at your service, no farther away than your keyboard," the presidential hopeful declared.

Gore will put the government "on line, so you don't have to stand in line," he vowed, articulating what could be the campaign slogan he's been looking for.

The wired government of the future will enable [we quite nearly wrote 'empower'] "an electorate that... often feels voiceless in a system corroded by special interests... to make change," Gore predicted.

The much feared and universally hated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has already begun a programme permitting citizens to render unto Caesar on line. This year, roughly thirty percent of federal tax returns were filed electronically, the IRS reports.

Gore imagined applying this smashing success to numerous other services, such as applying for Social Security benefits, applying for a house loan through the Federal Home Administration (FHA), and snitching on suspected miscreants directly to the FBI and other federal law enforcement bodies.

He also proposed establishing a "g-Bay," to auction surplus government equipment, supplies and confiscated property via the Web.

The Veep offered no hard numbers on the scheme's cost, but reckoned it could save billions over the long haul. He said he would require government bureaucracies to post periodic progress reports on line, and give frustrated citizens an opportunity to ridicule their rosy predictions and lame excuses via e-mail.

Now that's what we call democracy. ®

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