I want to thank you folks for not pointing out that my future as a political prognosticator has been irredeemably scarred by my wishful thinking toward an Al Gore candidacy. I thought I had it all figured out. But like someone that can't accept Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman, I could not believe that a statesman who's political trajectory had propelled him to win the popular vote for the presidency could turn his back on his destiny and merely walk away. I thought Gore certainly must have some grand and Biblical strategy that would swallow the other candidates like Jonah by the whale. My scenario was this; John Edwards wins Iowa, Hillary wins New Hampshire, and Obama wins South Carolina. Then in the midst of this turmoil would come Al Gore, organization at the ready and with a chest full of medals, prepared to assume his rightful place in American history as the redeemer of the thoughtless and slayer of the Bush philosophy of government by the corporation.
America believes in redemption and needed Gore to cleanse the collective guilt felt by those who voted for Bush, actually believing he had integrity. It would have been a national do-over, like a football sideline review, where an historic wrong might finally be righted. In every interview, when asked about running again, Gore always said, "I have no plans to be a candidate." That's quite different from saying, "No, I will not run." But then came the news that Al had accepted a partnership in a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that specialized in helping innovative start-ups that were energy efficient and potentially profitable. Before I could become too indignant about Gore cashing in on his environmental advocacy, however, I read he is donating his salary to the Alliance for Climate Protection. Still, he started the Alliance, and venture capitalists usually get stock in the company. I'm sure he's not working for free.
Silicon Valley is also within proximity of Gore's San Francisco based cable network, "Current," which plans to combine the best features of television and the Internet. Now you can watch multiple reruns of "Law and Order," while simultaneously seeing the most popular Google searches. Gore has been a noble, lifelong public servant and deserves to financially capitalize on an historic year of achievement. I'm certain the speaking fees of a Nobel Laureate are considerable, not to mention the Oscar and Emmy, but I can't help but feel disappointed as a citizen.
If Al Gore is on an urgent mission to decrease global warming, it would seem the most direct way of affecting policy is as U.S. President. But, I am reluctant to admit, Gore's moment has passed and any lingering hope that he, or we, had for a draft has passed too. Also passed is the chance that the "boy groomed for the office," will ever be President. Had he known this before, Gore could have skipped the Nam. I'll also admit something else. When I heard Gore speak last week at the U.N. Climate Conference in Bali, and he blamed the U.S. for obstructionism to great applause from the delegates, I wanted to say, "All right. We get it!", or, "You've got the job. Ease up already." For the first time, I found Al Gore annoying, and imagined years of similar preaching.
So, I was wrong. There will be no President Gore and the politician I have championed since the eighties has gone Hollywood on me. Though sometimes unctuous, most obviously when he blew the 2000 Debates, he was the best informed candidate we'll likely ever see, including Bill Clinton. He will choose to remain in the private sector until next year, when a new President may call upon him to return once again to public service, and I'm sure he will answer his nation's summons. I only hope that in whatever capacity Mr. Gore serves the next government, it doesn't require him to make any more speeches.