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Al Gore Returns to the Political Scene

After months and months of lying low in the political sphere, former Vice President Al Gore is back with a vengeance -- launching a new campaign focused on climate change and appearing on "60 Minutes" last night to promote his group.

Gore's reemergence on the political scene comes not a moment too soon in the eyes of The Fix -- an unabashed analyzer of the Goreacle and his on again, off again relationship with the political world.

Divining what the Goreacle wants out of the political process and how he sees himself fitting into the party are something close to a full-time job but the interview he granted Leslie Stahl to kick off his Alliance for Climate Change Protection is telling.

You can read the whole exchange but here's the most important segment:

"And what about the idea of an honest broker who goes to the two candidates and helps push one or the other of them off to the side?" asked Lesley Stahl.

"Yeah, kind of a modern Boss Tweed," Gore said.

"Except his name would be Al Gore," Stahl replied.

"Well, I'm not applying for the job of broker," Gore retorted.

Those comments are a fascinating window into the mind of the Goreacle worth analyzing closely. Gore seems extremely skeptical of the idea of stepping in to the role of party boss in the race -- telling either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to step aside.

Why?

It's hard to remember now but following his defeat in 2000, Gore seriously considered a return engagement against President Bush in 2004. The strongest voices in opposition to a second campaign were the very establishment figures who are now looking to Gore to rescue them from the morass in which they currently find themselves.

So, it should come as little surprise to Gore watchers that he is something short of willing to ride to their rescue.

Since leaving office, Gore has moved further and further from party orthodoxy in an attempt to carve out a bipartisan/nonpartisan solution to global climate chance, which may have added to his reluctance to step in now and play party kingmaker.

Gore's latest gambit -- a massive, multimillion effort to convince politicians of the need for action on climate change -- is a perfect example of his post-partisan approach to politics. The entire theme of the "We" campaign is the need to move beyond politics in order to solve a pressing crisis.

Watch the group's first ad -- airing this week on national broadcast and cable stations -- to see our point:


Future ads, according to Gore, will feature such partisan figures as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as well as the Revs. Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson.

It would be inconsistent, therefore, for the man trying to lead a bipartisan movement behind climate change to wade into the most partisan of affairs (a party primary) and select one candidate or the other.

Gore's interview with Stahl coupled with the launch of this new group convince us, more than at any time in recent history, that Al Gore is truly done with elective politics unless something drastic happens. Of course, in this campaign drastic happenings have become the rule rather than the exception, so one never knows.

Gore has clearly moved on. But can the Fix?

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 31, 2008; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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