Former Vice President
of the United States of America
, esteemed member of the United States Senate
, unforgettable character on Saturday Night Live
: he is all these things, and much, much, more.
He was born in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 1948 to Senator Albert Gore (yes, Gore, like Bush, is a junior) and wife Pauline. Young Al Gore grew up in the Fairfax Hotel, surrounded by the Washington aristocracy, and lived his youth as a little gentleman of sorts, courteous to a tee and something of a tattletale. After graduating from the St. Albans boarding school, a loner yet a quintessential Big Man on Campus, he entered Harvard University.
At Harvard, free from the constraints of Washington society, Gore went into a chrysalis of sorts. He took up marijuana (and, according to some accounts, LSD), grew his hair long, engaged in binge drinking contests, and wrote a lot of poetry. Politics seemed to have no place in his life: he left the freshman council after a semester, and was content with becoming a writer.
However, after taking a seminar taught by Erik Erikson, Gore decided that he wasn't made to be a writer. He stopped working on his great novel (which would have been about Carthage), and took a goverment class under Richard Neustadt, after which he finally concluded that he would follow his father's footsteps into public life.
By 1968, Gore had distanced himself from the radicals around him. He was inside the Democratic National Convention that year, not with the protestors outside. That summer, he worked on the campaign of Eugene McCarthy, and returned to his father's home state of Tennessee to take a special course on the history and culture of the state. Al was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War, and he helped his father craft several antiwar speeches. After Richard Nixon was elected to the White House that year, Gore made a silent vow to rebuild on what his father's generation of liberals had lost to the imperial presidency.
After graduating from Harvard with a senior thesis on the impact of television in Presidential elections, Gore married his longtime girlfriend, a Boston University student named Tipper. He turned down a position in the Alabama National Guard, and instead drove to Newark, New Jersey to enlist in the United States Army. As a military reporter, he was sent to Nam in 1970, just before his father was voted out of the Senate. After five months at Bien Hoa, Gore returned to the States, and moved into Tipper's house in Nashville, Tennessee.
Gore entered law school at Vanderbilt University and took up a job with the Nashville Tennesseean. But when the representative from his father's old district suddenly resigned in 1976, the younger Al was persuaded to run. He was 28 years old, incredibly shy, and a horrible speaker, but by sheer joss, coupled with financial help from some oil companies run by his family, Gore was able to win the election.
Incidentally, there was a certain fellow in Arkansas who lost that year's Congressional election.
Anyway, Gore's political career had officially been launched, and the Tennesseeans took a liking to him. He was a very organized and hard-working politician who would hold scores of town meetings with his constituents over the weekends. His journalism skills became useful when he joined the Oversight and Investigations Committee, and he eventually became a loud voice in the Capitol in favor of arms control, a hot topic in the late 70's and early 80's.
In 1983, Tennessee senator Howard Baker announced that he would not run for re-election. Gore found out through his former editor, one John Siegenthaler, and mounted a successful election bid in 1984. Now Gore was officially a member of the illustrious United States Senate, and overconfidence began to set in, which culminated in his disastrous presidential bid in 1988, in which he publicly admitted to smoking pot.
Thoroughly outshone by Jesse Jackson and Michael Dukakis, Gore returned to Capitol Hill and did what he had always wanted to do: he wrote a book. It was called Earth in the Balance, and brought the greenhouse effect and other environmental threats into the public light. As Gore was marketing his book, another southern Democrat named Bill Clinton was marketing himself as a future President, and Slick Willy's campaign team—Vernon Jordan, Warren Christopher, etc.—were looking for a good running mate. Gore was chosen largely because he was like Clinton in being a liberal Southerner, but the opposite of Clinton in being a shy, closed intellectual with a history in the military.
So that was how Gore and Clinton entered the White House in 1993. Gore was a decent vice president, pushing his environmental policies and advocating the expansion of the "Information Superhighway." (He later pissed off more than a few h4x0rs when he claimed to have "taken the initiative in creating the Internet.") In the end, he even got to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Despite a couple of campaign finance scandals, Gore emerged at the end of the Clinton administration ready to make another run for the Oval Office.
Come 2000, things were different. Gore was now running against George W. Bush, and they were similar in many ways. Both Bush and Gore were born into political families. Both had problems with public speaking. Both had controversial running mates. Both had funny accents. Indeed, Bush and Gore were so fundamentally similar to the public that the public never even really decided who should become President: it took months to figure out who had won the election. But Gore, a vanilla candidate, eventually lost to the friendlier (if dumber) Bush, when the United States Supreme Court finally approved Florida's recount in Bush v. Gore.
Gore moved to New York City and gained a lot of weight and grew a beard. He became a professor of journalism at Columbia University for a short time, doing what he should have been doing his whole life. While it was rumored that Gore would face Bush for a rematch in 2004, he has decided not to throw himself back into the arena just yet.
Good for Gore.
(Although I gotta say, ever since he started hanging out with Howard Dean, he's gone completely apeshit.)