MAUREEN DOWD DOESN'T WRITE FOR IN STYLE. In light of Maureen Dowd's latest idiotic "Al Gore is Fat" column, I think Atrios makes an important point. It's not that there's anything wrong with writing about fashion or gossip per se. The problem is when major news organizations (and their would-be internet equivalents) think fashion writing and gossip constitute political writing. In the 2000 campaign it was the lead reporters and columnists of America's elite newspapers, not just gossip columnists, who were writing about Gore's suits, his sighing, the salaries of (only his female) consultants, and so on. One would think that two terms of George Bush would remind our newspapers that making elections turn on junior-high-school trivia has consequences that are anything but trivial, but given Maureen Dowd's disgraceful ongoing presence on the NYT's op-ed pages sharing her insights about John Edwards's haircuts, Judith Steinberg's troubling lack of makeup, and Al Gore's waistline, one can hardly be optimistic.