Unchecked hot air emis­sion: Gore stumps for ‘In­con­ve­nient’ Os­car

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Beth Fouhy

NEW YORK — Al Gore is wag­ing a fierce cam­paign for recog­ni­tion and an Os­car stat­uette for his glob­al­warm­ing­doc­u­men­tary,while re­viv­ing talk that he’s pur­su­ing a big­ger prize: the pres­i­dency.

His re­cent itin­er­ary has been the ul­ti­mate in high profile. The for­mer vice pres­i­dent made self­dep­re­cat­ing jokes on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” of­fered ideas on pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment to Oprah Win­frey and par­ried ques­tions on Iraq from Matt Lauer on the “To­day” show.

On Dec. 16, Mr. Gore hosted a net­work of 1,600 house par­ties across the coun­try to watch and dis­cuss his doc­u­men­tary, “An In­con­ve­nient Truth,” with the Demo­crat plan­ning to ad­dress the gath­er­ings by satel­lite hookup. The movie is on the short list of fea­ture-length doc­u­men­taries be­ing con­sid­ered for Os­car nom­i­na­tions.

Mr. Gore in­sists that, for now, he is not plan­ning a re­turn to pol­i­tics.

“I am not plan­ning to run for pres­i­dent again,” Mr. Gore said two weeks ago, ar­gu­ing that his fo­cus is rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness about global warm­ing. Then, he added: “I haven’t com­pletely ruled it out.”

The pos­si­bil­ity of an­other pres­i­den­tial bid by Mr. Gore de­lights many Democrats still up­set over the 2000 elec­tion, in which they ar­gue a few more votes, a state other than Florida and a dif­fer­ent Supreme Court could have put Mr. Gore, not Ge­orge W. Bush, in the White House.

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, New York Demo­crat, is the fron­trun­ner, but a po­lar­iz­ing one for some Democrats. Illi­nois Sen. Barack Obama is the elec­tri­fy­ing new­comer but lim­ited in his ex­pe­ri­ence. Mr. Gore re­mains, for many party ac­tivists, the Demo­crat and pop­u­lar vote-get­ter done wrong.

“He won the elec­tion in 2000 — he just lost the [elec­toral] count,” for­mer Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Don Fowler said. “If I were he, I wouldn’t rule out a run. It’s an un­cer­tain field, and he’s a per­son who is widely re­spected.”

In many re­spects, Mr. Gore is bet­ter po­si­tioned for a po­lit­i­cal come­back­thanin­his­pre­vi­ous­bids.

He has won fame for “An In­con­ve­nient Truth,” the high­est­gross­ing doc­u­men­tary of the year. His out­spo­ken en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism and op­po­si­tion to the Iraq war has drawn raves from many Democrats, who have been frus­trated by the cau­tion among some party law­mak­ers on those is­sues.

Per­haps most im­por­tant for his fu­ture po­lit­i­cal en­deav­ors, Mr. Gore has new wealth. Thanks to a range of busi­ness ven­tures, in­clud­ing a long­time ad­vi­sory re­la­tion­ship with Google and a seat on Ap­ple Com­puter’s board of direc­tors, aides say he could spend as much as $50 mil­lion of his own money to be­gin a cred­i­ble pres­i­den­tial run.

But Mr. Gore has given plenty of sig­nals that he does not in­tend to be­come a can­di­date.

While Mrs. Clin­ton, Mr. Obama and other likely con­tenders have be­gun court­ing ac­tivists and build­ing their or­ga­ni­za­tions, Mr. Gore has steered far from cam­paign me­chan­ics.

“I see no signs of Gore or­ga­niz­ing sup­port­ers right now,” said Donna Brazile, Mr. Gore’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign man­ager in 2000.

Nei­ther Mrs. Clin­ton nor Mr. Obama has an­nounced plans to run. Iowa Gov. Tom Vil­sack has de­clared his can­di­dacy, while In­di­ana Sen. Evan Bayh has formed an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee. Other likely can­di­dates in­clude Mas­sachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee; for­mer North Carolina Sen. John Ed­wards, the 2004 vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee; Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Bi­den Jr.; Con­necti­cut Sen. Christo­pher J. Dodd; and New Mex­ico Gov. Bill Richard­son.

De­spite his protes­ta­tions to the con­trary, some Demo­cratic strate­gists think Mr. Gore could be per­suaded to en­ter the race.

Joe Trippi, who man­aged Howard Dean’s In­ter­net-fu­eled pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2004, said Mr. Gore would be a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date and prob­a­bly could wait longer than oth­ers to en­ter the field.

“If any­thing, he’s more rel­e­vant than any­one in the race be­cause of his po­si­tions on the war and global warm­ing,” Mr. Trippi said. “And that’s re­ally tough to do in the Demo­cratic Party, which treats its failed pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates like mem­bers of leper colony.”

The Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences will an­nounce the Os­car nom­i­na­tions Jan. 23, with the 79th Os­cars slated for Feb. 25. Iowa cau­cuses would be less than a year af­ter that.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Statue seeker: Al Gore hosted 1,600 house par­ties on Dec. 16 to pro­mote his doc­u­men­tary, “An In­con­ve­nient Truth.” Re­gard­ing a pos­si­ble White House run, Mr. Gore says he hasn’t “com­pletely ruled it out.”

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