Al Gore's Very, Very Good Year

From an Oscar for Inconvenient Truth to the Nobel peace prize for his work on global warming, former Vice President Al Gore was at the top of his game.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

For 2007, it was a very good year for some, at least, I think that's what Frank Sinatra had to say.

(Soundbite of song "It Was a Very Good Year")

Mr. FRANK SINATRA (Singer): (Singing) When I was 17, it was a very good year. It was a very…

STEWART: And it was a very good year for the man who helped organized a charity concert that spans seven continents. His documentary made 23.5 million at the box office and won an Oscar. He won an Emmy for a network he helped co-found. Oh, yeah, and a Nobel Peace Prize and, most of all, stunner Uma Thurman called him adorable and said listening to him talk was like watching a beautiful racehorse run.

JOHN FUGELSANG, host:

Really?

STEWART: Yes. And just to think seven years ago, Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman said he was seen in government as quote, "an annoying and ungracious bore who should have the decency to get lost."

FUGELSANG: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: Well, the Gorikel(ph) has come a long way. Nine days ago, Bryan Walsh, reporter for Time magazine, interviewed the former vice president who was runner up for Time's Person of the Year.

Hi, Bryan.

Mr. BRYAN WALSH (Reporter, Time Magazine): Hi.

STEWART: So when you sat down with Mr. Gore, did he seemed at all satisfied by the successes he's had this past year?

Mr. WALSH: Well, he seemed a bit tired because he just been up all night, the night before finishing up his Nobel Peace Prize, but…

STEWART: (Unintelligible) guy out.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WALSH: Yeah. He should be. See that's their one chance to do that. But I think he, you know, what he repeated to me was that he felt that his mission wasn't even close to being done. I mean, he used the word failed. He sought he hadn't got that message all the way through, and he was still energized to go on and keep pushing it.

FUGELSANG: Does Al Gore worry that his fame this last year may overshadow the causes he's promoting?

Mr. WALSH: I didn't get that sense. I mean, certainly, he's had to adjust his schedule. I mean, he's gone from playing - it's like a rock band. He's gone from playing tiny shows and being able to talk to anyone who wanted him. So now he - you know, he's in demand so much. And I think a lot more of his time is spent on trying to pick and choose what he can and cannot do. But I don't think he's that worried that he himself will overpower, (unintelligible) enough other people in that movement that war should be part of it as well.

STEWART: I do want to go back to this idea that Al Gore said in an interview, which it's hard to celebrate when he feels that his effort has failed somewhat. Why does he feel this way?

Mr. WALSH: Well, I think he just looks around and thinks look at all the scientists coming out right now. You had the U.N.'s IPCC report come out in the most clear terms, say, that we are really near - about possible (unintelligible) if we don't act very quickly, and you can see the message in the media as well. Then you look at it was actually had been done especially in the U.S. in terms of government action in all the states and cities that have done a lot. The federal government has done almost nothing. I mean - and that, you know, that is what, I think, gets into the (unintelligible) that he hasn't got nod message and we aren't acting in accordance with how serious this threat is.

STEWART: I'm curious about your interpretation after meeting Mr. Gore and spending time. A lot of people, especially his supporters during the 2000 elections for president wonder, so where was this guy - this Al Gore circa 2007 - where was this guy back then? Any thoughts on…

FUGELSANG: (Unintelligible) fans are scratching their heads over this.

STEWART: Yeah. Any thoughts on - if he's changed. Is this a different side of himself that he didn't let us see, or has there really been an evolution?

Mr. WALSH: I think there has sort of been evolution. I don't think you can go through the experience he did and lose the presidency in a way he did without evolving, without coming back. I mean, he's what I - what came across very strong to me was that he seemed very free. And when I asked him about, you know, why aren't you or why don't you seemed interested in running for president again? Well, he came up with a lot of reasons, mostly because he just - he really likes what he's doing now. So you see a man who really enjoys what he's doing, who has found his calling, who isn't bound by political (unintelligible) anymore, as he put it when he came to Bali to give a speech that really energized the conference there, you know? So this person is probably always there.

But, you know, as a candidate or as a politician, it's just not possible. Now, he's an advocate, and that gives him a sense of freedom that I think probably was an idea before.

STEWART: Well, we know him a person of no takes on a big issue. They are often held to a higher standard that they should walk the walk. So Gore has been criticized for his Tennessee mansion not being green enough. You've toured this mansion?

Mr. WALSH: I did see it. And just as I saw it, actually, he finished a lot of the retrofits. They've put in solar panels. They'd increased the energy efficiency. They'd put their geothermal as well. And then they also purchased all sets renewable energy certificates. I believe that sort of compensate for whatever energy they take off the grid that does use carbon.

I mean, if we all live like Al Gore in that way at the very least, we'd be doing all right. And, of course, he has to travel a lot. But, you know, there's - I guess there are limits to how far he can go.

STEWART: And plans that await for the Gorikel?

Mr. WALSH: He's going to continue pushing this. I mean, he's - you know, he's going to keep doing his tours, going to keep giving his speeches, you know? And as to what happens after the presidential election, I mean, of course, he didn't rule out running. He still doesn't rule out running that happening. Though it's hard to see how that would certainly occur now. But, you know, I mean, he's going to be the sort of shadow, you know, figure in (unintelligible) whatever the next administration (unintelligible) to see how they choose to use them or don't use him.

STEWART: Bryan Walsh is a reporter for Time magazine, spent some time with the man who's had a very good year, Mr. Al Gore.

Thanks for sharing your reporting, Bryan.

Mr. WALSH: Thanks very much.

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