I have no illusions about Al Gore, but he will always occupy a warm place in my heart.
My first run-in with Al Gore was long ago. I had taken over the president’s job at a struggling national health promotion organization, and Sen. Gore was our angel in Congress. Health care screening was his mission back then, and he opened doors to sponsors, allies and funding around the country. Then, one day, he stopped answering our phone calls. We were curtly told that Sen. Gore was no longer the Herald of Preventive Health Care. Now he was the guru of something called “the information super-highway,” and we would have to fend for ourselves. (The organization went belly-up a year later). Thus I learned that Gore was nothing if not opportunistic, and perhaps not the guy you would want to be in a World War II foxhole with if he spoke fluent German.
Still, I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be the unlucky loser of the highest office in the land in one the nation’s rare popular vote/electoral vote splits, and I admire the fact that Al’s not in a rubber room by now. I thought his concession speech in 2000 was one of the high-points of political nobility during my lifetime, and the Saturday Night Live appearance that was Gore’s farewell to politics will always stand as one of the bravest, quirkiest, saddest, funniest, most fascinating public breast-barings in media history. Al is a phony, and an opportunist, and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him, but he’s lived out a roller-coaster life in the hot lights of center stage, and I’m not certain I could do it any better. Continue reading