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Times Like These Call for a President Like Al Gore

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OK, let me handle this up front. After having supported Al Gore, Jr. for Vice President twice as well as in his campaigns for the House and Senate in Tennessee, I voted for Ralph Nader in the presidential election of 2000. Like a number of my friends, I was fed up with business as usual in Washington and, frankly, didn't see a lot of difference between Gore and Bush. In my mind they were both privileged sons of politicians who believed it was their divine right to ascend to the presidency.

After six years, my views regarding Al Gore and George W. Bush have changed dramatically. I see Bush as a prime example of the Peter Principle, a man who has risen several levels beyond his competency from his ideal job as glad hander for the Texas Rangers baseball team. I see someone who absolutely refuses to respond to the wake up calls that life sends his way, someone, in fact, who hunkers down and digs his heels in even deeper when reality smacks him in the face. I see an immature man with limited intellectual and emotional capacity who seeks to hide his insecurities by donning a mask of exaggerated masculinity and machismo. I see a weak leader who tries to frighten politicians and the populace into submission. I see someone who doesn't understand the basic precepts of democracy and what this nation, at its best, stands for. I see a president who, given the opportunity, would move our nation toward authoritarianism. I see a man who is a great danger not only to himself but to all the rest of us as well.

On the other hand, I see Al Gore as a man who has gone through his dark night of the soul. He was on the path his father Al Gore, Sr., a Tennessee senator and presidential aspirant in the 1950s, had envisioned for his son early on. And things progressed in an orderly fashion for Al, Jr.-Representative from Tennessee's Fourth District, Senator, Vice President. And he actually won the popular vote (and many contend the electoral as well) in 2000 but was denied the presidency by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I know that Al Gore's detractors have fabricated fantasies about who he is-stiff, pretentious, detached, somber, geeky, etc. And many in the mainstream media have reported these fictions as the truth. Was he overhandled and overmanaged during the 2000 election? It certainly would appear so. But through the tribulation of coming so close to the presidency yet falling short, he has undeniably emerged a more powerful and compelling man. After failing to achieve what was likely his ultimate vision for himself, and taking some time for reflection, he stepped forward in a leadership role that might prove to be even more important than the presidency. For, as his movie and book "An Inconvenient Truth" have revealed, if we don't deal with global warming without delay, nothing else is really going to matter. We'll have traveled so far down the road toward creating our own extinction that who holds elective office may be the least of our concerns.

In early January, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Al Gore in Nashville at a Climate Project training where volunteers from around the nation and beyond learned to present the slide show on which "An Inconvenient Truth" was based. Gore spent one entire day with us going over each slide one at a time, then joined us for dinner that night. It was clear to me that I was in the presence of a man of genuine authenticity, impressive intellect and profound passion as well as a willingness to take himself lightly.

At the end of our three-day training, Gore was due to make the closing remarks. But before he entered, the video of his recent hilarious appearance on Saturday Night Live was played. A brief excerpt:
Announcer: And now, a message from the President of the United States.

President Al Gore: Good evening, my fellow Americans. In 2000 when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much yet challenges lie ahead.

In the last six years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack. As you know, these renegade glaciers have already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine, but I assure you: we will not let the glaciers win.

Right now, in the second week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash.

I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because-hey if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.
Through thunderous applause and hearty laughter Gore made his way to the front of the room and graciously acknowledged us for our willingness to be a part of the Climate Project Training. And he gave and inspiring and evocative speech, calling on us to go out into our communities and help awaken folks to the great challenge we are facing.

He continued, speaking of his son who, as a young boy, had wrenched free from his father's grasp and dashed after a friend into traffic where he was hit by a car and subsequently hovered near death for days. He spoke of how, though his son ultimately fully recovered, this experience had changed his perspective on life, that it was this shift that led him to greater concern for our environment and the planet on which we live. He spoke of the earth as it hovers near a point from which we may not be able to reverse the damage we humans have done. "I know I can't go back in time," he almost whispered, "but sometimes I wish I'd held on to my son's hand more tightly, that I hadn't let him slip away." He paused for a moment and continued. "Now our precious planet is slipping from our grasp," Gore said softly, "and it's up to all of us to hold on."

The George W. Bush presidency has been an essential wake up call, an administration so entangled in hubris, arrogance, incompetence and greed that most of us have gained a clear picture of what we absolutely do not want in a president. And now we can develop a clear vision of what we do want in a leader-someone who is authentic, someone who is courageous, someone we trust, someone with intellectual and emotional depth, someone who is responsive, someone who inspires us and, yes, someone with a sense of humor.

Al Gore is that leader. He was right on global warming, he was right on Iraq and he has more experience than any of the other presidential contenders. I urge you to help draft Gore to join the 2008 race for president by signing the petition at draftgore.com. Then visualize him winning the Oscar tonight, the Nobel Peace Prize in December and the presidency next year. Spread the word, and help elect Al Gore again in 2008!

Note: Readers of this post are likely aware of the various statements by Gore in which he declares that he has no intention of running for president in 2008. While I acknowledge these statements, I believe that he would respond to a call from the citizens of this nation. My intention is to hold the vision of an Al Gore presidency from 2009 through 2016 and to do all I can do to help bring that vision into fruition.
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Times Like These Call for a President Like Al Gore

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