What to say about Al Gore's public relations disaster regarding multiple allegations of misbehavior with hotel masseuses?
I guess I find it a puzzle on several levels. In one sense, the trouble begins because massages with happy endings are illegal in the US, unlike many other countries, when done in exchange for money. This leads to a pooling equilibrium in which providers that want to offer this service attempt to look like massage providers who do not want to provide this service. The result is confusion for providers and customers.
But in another sense, that is not really the issue. Given the pooling equilibrium, with which Al is presumably familiar, he could react to the constraints he faces on his behavior by doing one of several things:
First, he could restrict his attempted purchases of this service to trips to places where they are legal. This requires some self-restraint, but you don't get to be a successful person without some ability to delay gratification.
Second, he could avoid the massage market and instead look in the upscale escort market, where it is clear what is being provided. Given that Al travels with a personal staff, surely one of them could arrange this sort of thing while keeping both Al and the police out of the details of the transaction. Money is presumably not an issue for Al, and as the police focus almost exclusively on street prostitution, the ex ante public relations risk was probably lower with high-end escorts than with massage providers of unknown type.
Third, presumably Al has lots of opportunities for unpaid fun with women who appreciate his Powerpoint slides or want to hold his Nobel Prize. There are of course potential costs as well as benefits here too. Sometimes those women do not want to go away (e.g. Monica) and sometimes they too run off to the National Enquirer, but at least legal trouble is avoided.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, he could have behaved like a gentleman given his choice to take draws from the pooled market of massage providers who do and do not want to offer extras. That is to say, having realized that he had drawn a provider of the massage-only type, he could have enjoyed a nice massage, or just sent her on her way with her fee, in a polite and mature fashion. I think Al's failure to pursue this path is the real puzzle.
Odd, odd, odd.
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