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Is Al Gore ready for his close-up?

By Lisa Fabrizio
web posted June 5, 2006

June is busting out all over and, so it seems, is Democratic interest in erstwhile presidential candidate Albert Gore, Jr. Yes, Al Gore, who in his last quest for the White House learned the hard way that a kiss is usually just a kiss, but a sigh can sometimes be more consequential.

Al Gore at Cannes on May 20, 2006Al's been all over lately. From a fluff piece in Time Magazine to an appearance on Saturday Night Live, he was even the toast of the Cannes Film Festival where he allegedly spoke fluent French. He's been promoting "An Inconvenient Truth," which is either the name of his new global-warming horror flick or an accurate description of his electability quotient.

In their search for a candidate with "passion" -- a code-word for "he who is not Kerry" -- some Democrats seem to have returned right back where they started from, when the Constitutional statue of limitations ran out on the passion-packed Bill Clinton. But rather than back Bill's better half, many are talking up Gore.

So just what is it that makes Gore a more palatable candidate this time around? Says pal Chris Lehane: "People are now looking at him through the prism of the last six years and realizing that he had and has a lot to offer." Sounds great, but on the other side of that prism is just another costume change.

Gone is the crazy Uncle Al of his Moveon.org days, where he used his best fire-and-brimstone voice to ensure his small but rabid group of admirers that George W. Bush "betrayed this country" and "played on our fears." In his place we find someone who's now described as a ‘leading man' possessed of ‘star power', conjuring up memories of Al Gore, Alpha Male.

But this time, tanned and rested for his latest incarnation as global savior, is he truly ready for his close-up? Left-wing blogger Arianna Huffington thinks so: "After the screening, as I watched him interact with well-wishers, accepting congratulations and answering questions, he radiated commitment and confidence. Here was a man truly comfortable in his own skin." But that's the problem; this man has shed more skins than a Tennessee mud snake, but apparently not enough to queer his chances with the left.

Adding to his allure as a presidential contender, is that somewhere along the line he's managed to enrich his own personal environment and now appears to be a man of means. Sometimes it's easy being green, especially when you can parlay it into even more green as a senior advisor to Google, a founder of Generation Investment Management and a board member of Apple Computers.

Yet his greatest attraction for liberals seems to be that in addition to not being John Kerry, he is also not Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has, as do most potential presidential hopefuls, tacked somewhat to the political center and is now improbably regarded by the left as a war hawk, and worse. Perched precariously astraddle many issues, Senator Clinton is finding her seat a tad uncomfortable.

As a result, there are signs that some powerful liberals will not support her candidacy. As Andrew Sullivan pointed out: "questions about the Clinton marriage appeared on the front page of The New York Times last week as a virtual editorial begging her not to run." And the LA Times, under the ruse of promoting her hubby to head the UN, chipped in with, "The best thing Hillary Rodham Clinton could do for humanity is not run for president." Yes, the times they are a-changin'.

But some things never change and in politics, loyalty sometimes takes a back seat to one's own agenda. In the worst tradition of the Clintons, Gore ignored candidate Joe Lieberman in 2004, endorsing the Democrats' last man of passion, Howard Dean, without even so much as a phone call to his former running-mate in advance.

And although we've been promised yet another new Al Gore, his current movie tour strategy employs a tactic from his last campaign that seems to work for him: lying. However, when you call it "over-representation" it doesn't sound so bad, especially when applied to global warming, or maybe even the pursuit of the presidency:

"Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis."

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut. You may write her at mailbox@lisafab.com.

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