You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Ann Althouse comments that this
sounded like a typical law-school-liberal remark. I think it was quite sincere, and I'm rather sure he believed he was being admirably intellectual and raising politics to a new, higher level. Within a liberal law school environment, that statement would be heard as a thoughtful, compassionate insight. Some of your colleagues might think you were excessively, squishily tolerant of what they see as ignorant, bigoted people, but I don't think they'd push you to be more understanding of the alien culture you were observing.
P.S. from The Onion, August 9, 2000, Visiting Gore Calls Pennsylvania 'A Hellhole'