WASHINGTON, DC–At a press conference Monday, Gore-camp spokespersons staunchly denied charges of sneaking into the Bush camp, stealing a canoe, and stranding it high in a treetop over the weekend.

Flanked by members of his camp, presidential contender Al Gore defends himself before reporters.

"As usual, the Bush camp has stooped to the lowest form of dirty politicking with these unfounded accusations," said Al Gore, addressing reporters from the shores of Lake Minnewanna. "Make no mistake, we fully intend to beat those rich jerks from the Bush camp, but we will do so fair and square."

The Bush camp is claiming that at approximately 11 p.m. Saturday, Gore and several of his closest counselors walked the two-mile distance of Powatowami Trail, sneaked onto Bush campgrounds under cover of night, and raided the boating-supply cabin. A canoe was then raised an estimated 20 feet into a nearby treetop.

Bush sources added that when security personnel trained a floodlight on the intruders, they "scattered in the general direction of the Gore camp." While scaling a fence, Gore campaign advisor Lawrence Dyer, known in Democratic Party circles as "Hoagie," allegedly snagged his shorts on a nail and was forced to flee in a semi-nude state.

No love has been lost between the two camps of late. Last month, Bush staffers were accused of orchestrating a "panty raid" against the girls from the Hillary For Senate camp. Allegations that the Bush 2000 web site was hacked by a Gore staffer identified only as "Spaz" remain unproven.

Despite Monday's allegations of foul play by the Gore camp, it is the Bush camp that is suffering from image problems. While Gore campers are viewed as honest, hardworking youngsters who are out to have some good old-fashioned summer fun, Bush campers are largely perceived by the public as wealthy elitists, or "snobs," who regard the inheritance of power as their birthright. Photos revealing their camp to be a posh, country-club-like facility featuring air-conditioned cabins and personal butlers have not helped matters.

Bush stands before the canoe he claims was treed by a group of mischievous Gore campers.

In December 1999, Bush told a Dallas Morning News reporter that "the nation simply can't bear another four years under an unrefined president. We are proper people, and we shall conduct a proper, civilized government without those beastly Democrats." Gore staffers retaliated the following week by disguising themselves as waiters and infiltrating a Republican fundraiser, at which they pulled off a host of shenanigans. Among them: paging a "Mr. Dick Wiede" on the dining-room sound system, altering Bush's speech notes to include insults aimed at key Bush contributors, and spraying George W. Bush's mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, with champagne as she shrieked in open-mouthed horror.

The stakes were raised in February, when Bush was humiliated at the New Hampshire Cherry-Pie Eat-Off. After losing the contest and then being unceremoniously doused with whipped cream, a sweetened, gooey Bush growled, "I want those liberal twerps to pay."

The Gore camp is unfazed by such Republican brickbatting. "This camp and its leader are the best," said Gore camper Fred Lehmann, who arrived at the camp shy and softspoken but quickly gained confidence and self-esteem under Gore's wing. "Big Al is a really funny guy, and he tells awesome ghost stories. The Bush camp thinks it's all about being better than everybody else. I think they've forgotten that it's really about having fun."

"We will prevail, because we're fighting for what truly matters," said Gore during a dockside speech Monday. "We have forged unity through diversity and have learned a lot about ourselves in the process. And most importantly, we've come to realize that the world's a whole lot bigger than just our own neighborhood."

"People of the United States," he concluded, "are you ready for the summer?"