Al Gore

Al Gore books and biography

Al Gore

Al Gore

45th Vice President of the United States
January 20, 1993–January 20, 2001
President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton
Precededby James Danforth "Dan" Quayle
Succeededby Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney

Born March 31, 1948 (age58)
Washington, D.C.
Politicalparty Democratic
Spouse Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore
Religion Southern Baptist

Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. (born March 31, 1948) is an American politician, teacher, businessman, and environmentalist. From 1993 to 2001 he was the 45th Vice President of the United States within the Clinton administration.

Previously, Gore had served in the United States House of Representatives (1977–85) and the United States Senate (1985–93) representing Tennessee. He was the Democratic nominee for President in the 2000 election — one of the most [1]

Today, Gore is president of the American television channel Current TV, chairman of Generation Investment Management, a director on the board of Apple Inc., and an unofficial adviser to Google's senior management. He lectures widely on the topic of global warming, which he calls "the climate crisis."[2] In 2006 he starred in the Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, discussing global warming and the environment.[3] Gore has a contract to write a new book, The Assault on Reason, to be published May 22, 2007. While he has stated that he has no intention of running for President again, it is frequently speculated that he is a potential candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.


Early life and family

Al Gore was born in Washington, D.C., to Albert Arnold Gore, Sr., a U. S. Representative (1939–44, 1945–1953) and Senator (1953–1971) from Tennessee, and Pauline LaFon Gore, one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. Al Gore Jr. thus divided his childhood between Washington, D.C., and Carthage, Tennessee: as a boy, during the school year, he lived in a hotel in Washington and during summer vacations, he worked on the Gore family farm in Carthage where hay and tobacco were grown and cattle were also raised.[4][5][6]

In preparation for college, Gore attended the St. Albans School In 1965, Gore enrolled at Harvard College, the only university to which he applied. His roommate (in Dunster House) was actor Tommy Lee Jones. After finding himself bored with his classes in his declared English major, Gore switched majors and worked hard in his government courses and graduated cum laude from Harvard in June 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government. After returning from the military he took religious studies courses at Vanderbilt University and then entered its Law School. He left Vanderbilt after completing the required one-year Rockefeller Foundation scholarship for students returning to secular work to run for Congress in 1976.[7]

In 1970, Gore married Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson (Tipper Gore), whom he had first met at his high school senior prom in Washington, D.C. They have four children: Karenna Gore (born August 6, 1973), married to Drew Schiff; Kristin Gore (born June 5, 1977); Sarah (born January 7, 1979); and Al Gore III (born October 19, 1982). The Gores also have two grandchildren: Wyatt (born July 4, 1999) and Anna Schiff. The Gore family resides in Nashville, Tennessee, and own a small farm near Carthage. The family attends New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Carthage. In late 2005 the Gores bought a condominium at San Francisco's St. Regis.[8]

In 1984, Gore's elder sister, Nancy Gore Hunger, died of lung cancer, which he discusses in the film An Inconvenient Truth.[9]

Soldier and journalist

Gore served as a field reporter in Vietnam for five months.
Gore served as a field reporter in Vietnam for five months.

Although opposed to the Vietnam War, on August 7, 1969, Gore enlisted in the United States Army in order to participate in the war. After basic training at Fort Dix, Gore was assigned as a military journalist writing for The Army Flier, the base newspaper at Fort Rucker. With seven months remaining in his enlistment, he was shipped to Vietnam, arriving January 2, 1971. He served for four months with the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa and for another month at the Army Engineer Command in Long Binh. As his unit was standing down, he applied for and received a non-essential personnel discharge two months early in order to attend divinity school at Vanderbilt University.[10] The chronology of Gore's military service is:

  • August 1969: Enlisted at the Newark, New Jersey recruiting office.
  • August to October 1969: Eight weeks of basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
  • Late October 1969 to December 1970: writer for the Army Flier newspaper at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
  • January 2, 1971 to May 22, 1971: field reporter in Vietnam, part of the 20th Engineer Brigade, stationed primarily at Bien Hoa Air Base northeast of Saigon.
  • May 24, 1971: Given an honorable discharge, after his early discharge request was granted.

Gore opposed the Vietnam War, but chose to volunteer anyway though he could have avoided serving in Vietnam in a number of ways. A friend of the Gore family reserved a spot for him in the National Guard, which he turned down. Gore has stated that his sense of civic duty compelled him to serve.[11]

Gore said in 1988 that his experience in Vietnam:

didn't change my conclusions about the war being a terrible mistake, but it struck me that opponents to the war, including myself, really did not take into account the fact that there were an awful lot of South Vietnamese who desperately wanted to hang on to what they called freedom. Coming face to face with those sentiments expressed by people who did the laundry and ran the restaurants and worked in the fields was something I was naively unprepared for.[12] After returning from Vietnam, Gore spent five years as a reporter for The Tennessean, a newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee.

Political career (1976–2000)

Congressional service

When Congressman Joe L. Evins announced his retirement after 30 years, Gore quit law school in March 1976 to run for the United States House of Representatives, in Tennessee's fourth district. Gore defeated Stanley Rogers in the Democratic primary, then ran unopposed in the general election and was elected to his first Congressional post. He was re-elected three times, in 1978, 1980, and 1982. In 1984, Gore successfully ran for a seat in the United States Senate, which had been vacated by Republican Majority Leader Howard Baker. Gore served as a Senator from Tennessee until 1993, when he became Vice President.

While in Congress, Gore was a member of the following committees: Armed Services (Defense Industry and Technology Projection Forces and Regional Defense; Strategic Forces and Nuclear Deterrence); Commerce, Science and Transportation (Communications; Consumer; Science, Technology and Space- chairman 1992; Surface Transportation; National Ocean Policy Study); Joint Committee on Printing; Joint Economic Committee; and Rules and Administration.

On 19 March 1979, Gore became the first person to appear on C-SPAN, making a speech in the House chambers.[13] In the late 1980s, Gore introduced the Gore Bill, which was later passed as the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991. The bill was one of the most important pieces of legislation directly affecting the expansion of the internet.

Vice Presidency

Main articles: United States presidential election, 1992 and Clinton Administration

Bill Clinton chose Gore to be his running mate on July 9, 1992. After winning the 1992 election, Al Gore was inaugurated as the 45th Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1993. Clinton and Gore were re-elected to a second term in the 1996 election.

During the Clinton/Gore administration, the American economy expanded for eight years[14] One factor was the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, for which Gore cast the tie-breaking vote. The Administration worked closely with the Republican-led House to slow federal spending and eventually balance the federal budget. One of Gore's major accomplishments as Vice President was the National Performance Review,[15] which pointed out waste, fraud, and other abuse in the federal government and stressed the need for cutting the size of the bureaucracy and the number of regulations. His book later helped guide President Clinton when he down-sized the federal government.[16]

In 1993, Gore debated Ross Perot on CNN's Larry King Live on the issue of free trade, with Gore arguing for free trade and the passage of NAFTA, and Perot arguing against it. Public opinion polls taken after the debate showed that a majority of Americans thought Gore won the debate and now supported NAFTA.[17] Some claim that this performance may have been responsible for the passing of NAFTA in the House of Representatives, where it passed 234–200.[18]

Since 1998, Gore heavily promoted a NASA satellite that would provide a constant view of Earth, marking the first time such an image would have been made since The Blue Marble photo from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission. The "Triana" satellite would have been permanently mounted in the L1 Lagrangian Point, 1.5 million km away.[19] The finished satellite was not launched due to opposition from the Republican congress.[citation needed]

During his 2000 campaign for the presidency, Gore himself attributed positive economic results to his and Clinton's policies[20] — more than 22 million new jobs, the highest homeownership in American history (up to that time), the lowest unemployment in 30 years, the paying off of $360 billion of the national debt, the lowest poverty rate in 20 years, higher incomes at all levels, the conversion of the hitherto largest budget deficit in American history into the largest surplus, the lowest government spending in three decades, the lowest federal income tax burden in 35 years, and more families owning stocks than had up to that point. However Gore later placed a large share of the blame for his election loss on the economic downturn and NASDAQ crash of March 2000 in an interview with National Public Radio's Bob Edwards.[21]

National campaigns

1988 Presidential run

Main article: Al Gore presidential campaign, 1988

In 1988, Gore ran for President but failed to obtain the Democratic nomination, which went to Michael Dukakis. During the campaign, Gore's strategy involved skipping the Iowa caucus and putting little emphasis on the New Hampshire Primary in order to concentrate his efforts on the South. He won Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee in the Super Tuesday primaries but dropped out of the presidential race in April after a poor showing in the New York primary.[13]

Son's accident and effect on 1992 presidential campaign

Vice President Gore talking with President Clinton as the two pass through the Colonnade at the White House.
Vice President Gore talking with President Clinton as the two pass through the Colonnade at the White House.

On April 3, 1989, Gore's six-year-old son Albert was nearly killed in an automobile accident while leaving the Baltimore Orioles' opening day game. Because of the resulting lengthy healing process, his father chose to stay near him during the recovery instead of laying the foundation for a presidential primary campaign. Gore started writing Earth in the Balance, his book on environmental conservation, during his son's recovery. It became the first book written by a sitting Senator to make The New York Times bestseller list since John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.

2000 presidential election

After a close campaign, Gore greets President-elect Bush at the White House in late December of 2000.
After a close campaign, Gore greets President-elect Bush at the White House in late December of 2000.
Main articles: Al Gore presidential campaign, 2000 and U.S. presidential election, 2000

After two terms as Vice President, Gore ran for President. In the Democratic primaries, Gore faced an early challenge from Bill Bradley. Gore's nomination was never really in doubt and Bradley withdrew from the race in early March 2000 after failing to win any state primary or caucus.

In August 2000, Gore surprised many[citation needed]when he selected Senator Joe Lieberman to be his vice-presidential running mate. Lieberman, who is a more conservative Democrat than Gore, had publicly admonished President Clinton for speaking unambiguously to the U.S. people about the Lewinsky scandal. Many pundits saw Gore's choice of Lieberman as another way of trying to distance himself from the scandal-prone Clinton White House.[citation needed] Lieberman was also the first Jewish nominee on a major party's national ticket.

During the entire campaign, Gore was neck-and-neck in the polls with Republican Governor of Texas George W. Bush. On Election Day, the results were so close that the outcome of the race took over a month to resolve, highlighted by the premature declaration of a winner on election night, and an extremely close result in the state of Florida. On election night, news networks first called Florida for Gore, later retracted the projection, and then called Florida for Bush, before finally retracting that projection as well.

The race was ultimately decided by a margin of only 537 votes in Florida. Florida's 25 electoral votes were awarded to Bush only after numerous court challenges. Gore publicly conceded the election after the Supreme Court of the United States in Bush v. Gore voted 7 to 2 to declare the ongoing recount procedure unconstitutional because it feared that different standards would be used in different parts of the state, and 5 to 4 to ban recounts using other procedures. Gore strongly disagreed with the Court's decision, but decided "for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession." Following the election, a subsequent recount conducted by various U.S. news media organizations indicated that Bush would have won using the partial recount method of four strongly Democratic areas advocated by Gore, but that Gore would have won given a full recount of the state if overvotes (i.e. optical ballots where the oval next to a candidate was blacked in and the candidate's name was mistakenly written in the space on the ballot headed "Write in Candidate's Name", which were rejected by optical scoring machines but unmistakably assignable by a human scorer) were counted, regardless of whether the undervotes (mainly the infamous punch ballots where "chads" were not completely punched out) were subjected to rigorous (only fully punched out) or loose (any dimple or mark) standards, or a standard in between (i.e. at least one corner detached, at least two corners detached), and/or disputed absentee ballots (including those which were unsigned, undated, dated too late, etc.) were counted.[22][23][24]

The states that ultimately voted for Gore over Bush in were New York (by 1.7 million votes), New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico (by mere 366 votes), California (by 1.3 million votes), Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, and Hawaii giving Gore 267 electoral votes to Bush's 271. During the formal Electoral College vote in DC, one of Gore's electors cast a blank ballot to protest what she called DC's "colonial status", thus Gore's final number of electoral votes was 266.[25] Gore became only the third nominee to win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote.[26]

The Florida election has been closely scrutinized since the election. Some irregularities are thought to have favored Bush, while others may have given Gore an edge. Irregularities assumed to favor Bush included the Palm Beach "butterfly ballots," which were alleged to have produced a large number of mistaken votes for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan intended for Gore, and a purge of some 50,000 alleged felons from the Florida voting rolls that included some voters who were again eligible to vote under Florida law. An irregularity thought to favor Gore was that most major news networks prematurely projected Gore as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes at 7:52 p.m. Eastern Time. This happened before the polls closed in ten Florida counties in the heavily Republican western panhandle which are in the Central Time Zone, and thus closed at 7 p.m. Central Time (8 p.m. Eastern). This may have depressed the pro-Bush vote as panhandle residents waiting to, or going to, cast their ballots did not do so because they thought their votes were meaningless in the aftermath of the calling of Florida for Gore, although the degree to which this influenced Bush's vote totals are unknown and debatable.[27] During the numerous recounts (which made the phrase "hanging chads" infamous in the American vocabulary), there were also allegations of both pro-Bush and pro-Gore tampering by low-level operatives in the controversial counties.[28] It is unclear what effect, if any, this may have had. Both camps fought (with some success) to keep overseas absentee votes out in counties thought to be favorable to the other candidate, arguing, for example, that votes in envelopes lacking cancellation marks could have been cast after the election. The counterargument was that, regardless of the law, many of the votes were cast by military personnel, and some could have been delayed due to emergency duty shifts by those overseas who chose to submit their ballots at the last hour.[citation needed]

As a matter of law, the issue was settled when the Congress of the United States accepted Florida's electoral delegation, only after a challenge to the Florida electors was presented in the congressional chambers on January 6, 2001 by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Member after member went up decrying the lack of a senator who would be willing to co-sponsor the challenge without any effect.[29] They thus failed to bring the challenge to a debate.

Concern about the possible disenfranchisement of voters in the Florida vote led to widespread calls for electoral reform in the United States, and ultimately to the passage of the Help America Vote Act, which authorized the United States federal government to provide funds to the states to replace their mechanical voting equipment with electronic voting equipment. However, this has led to new controversies, because of the security weaknesses of the computer systems, the lack of paper-based methods of secure verification, and the necessity to rely on the trustworthiness of the manufacturers whose employees also count those votes.

Joe Lieberman later criticized Al Gore for adopting a populist theme during their 2000 campaign. Lieberman said he objected to Gore's "people vs. the powerful" message, believing it was not the best strategy for Democrats to use to retain the White House.[30]

The popular political weblog The Daily Howler contends that Gore lost the election due to a relentless media "war," in which his positions were misconstrued and his personal idiosyncrasies exaggerated or even invented altogether by members of the mainstream press corps. Singled out for particularly misleading accounts of Gore and his candidacy are Ceci Connolly of the Washington Post, Katherine "Kit" Seelye of the New York Times and television talk-show host Chris Matthews.[31] Gore wrote a note targeted toward savvy web users on his 2000 campaign site ( that was hidden in the HTML source code, only visible by "viewing source".

Elder statesman

2004 presidential election

Main article: U.S. presidential election, 2004

2004 Democratic National Convention

Main article: 2004 Democratic National Convention

As the first major speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Gore held himself out as a living reminder that every vote counts. "Let's make sure not only that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president, but also that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court," said Gore. Gore directed remarks to supporters of third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who abandoned the Democratic Party four years ago, asking them, "Do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates?"[32] On October 18, 2004, Al Gore delivered his final major policy speech of the 2004 political season. In an hour-long presentation, Gore concluded that, "I'm convinced that most of the president's frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible."

Decision not to run

Initially, Al Gore was touted as a logical opponent of George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election. "Re-elect Gore!" was a common slogan among many Democrats who felt he had been unfairly cheated out of the presidency, on the grounds of his winning the popular vote and the Florida voting controversies. On December 16, 2002, however, Gore announced that he would not run in 2004, saying that it was time for "fresh faces" and "new ideas" to emerge from the Democrats. When he appeared on a 60 Minutes interview, Gore said that he felt if he had run, the focus of the election would be the rematch rather than the issues. Gore's former running mate, Joe Lieberman quickly announced his own candidacy for the presidency, which he had vowed he would not do if Gore ran.

Despite Gore taking himself out of the race, a handful of his supporters formed a national campaign to "draft" him into running. However, that effort largely came to an end when Gore publicly endorsed Governor of Vermont Howard Dean (over his former running mate Lieberman) weeks before the first primary of the election cycle. This caused a rift due to the contentious relationship between Lieberman and Dean during the primary. Furthermore, Gore did not call Lieberman to apprise him of the endorsement. There was still some effort to encourage write-in votes for Gore in the primaries by Patriots for Al Gore who were separate from the draft movement. Although Gore did receive a small number of votes in New Hampshire and New Mexico, that effort was halted when John Kerry pulled into the lead for the nomination. Gore's endorsement of Dean was helpful to the latter in legitimizing him in the eyes of the establishment faction of the Democratic Party, but it also led the media to dub Dean as the clear front-runner, with the result that his opponents devoted more of their emphasis to opposing him.[citation needed]

Democratic campaign

On February 9, 2004, on the eve of the Tennessee primary, Gore gave what some consider his harshest criticism of the president yet when he accused George W. Bush of betraying the country by using the 9/11 attacks as a justification for the invasion of Iraq. Gore also urged all Democrats to unite behind their eventual nominee proclaiming, "Any one of these candidates is far better than George W. Bush." In March 2004 Gore, along with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, united behind Kerry as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

On April 28, 2004, Gore announced that he would be donating $6 million to various Democratic Party groups. Drawing from his funds left over from his 2000 campaign, Gore pledged to donate $4 million to the Democratic National Committee. The party's Senate and House committees would each get $1 million, and the party from Gore's home state of Tennessee would receive $250,000. In addition, Gore announced that all of the surplus funds in his "Recount Fund" from the 2000 election controversy that resulted in the Supreme Court halting the counting of the ballots, a total of $240,000, will be donated to the Florida Democratic Party. Gore stressed the importance of voting and having every vote counted, foreshadowing the 2004 United States election voting controversies.

2008 presidential election plans

Main article: U.S. presidential election, 2008

Gore and his family have commented upon whether or not Gore would participate as a candidate in the 2008 presidential election. Gore was quoted in December 2006 as stating on NBC's "Today": "I am not planning to run for president again [...] I haven't completely ruled it out."[33] His son, Albert Gore III, followed with a comment in the 14 December 2006 article "Albert Gore: Dad's Doing Well, Not Running in 2008":"I know that [my father] has no plans to run in 2008 [...] Well, I guess I have to add his addendum. I think the way he always says it is, 'I don't see any circumstances under which I would run for president."[34]

Despite stating that he is not planning to run, Donna Brazile, Gore's campaign chairwoman in the 2000 campaign, made a series of cryptic comments during a speech on January 31, 2007,at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania stating "Wait till Oscar night, I tell people: 'I'm dating. I haven't fallen in love yet. On Oscar night, if Al Gore has slimmed down 25 or 30 pounds, Lord knows.'"[35] The meaning of these remarks became more clear when on award night, while in attendance and acting as a presenter for an award, Gore began a speech that seemed to be leading up to an announcement that he would run for president. However, background music drowned him out and he was escorted offstage, thus implying it was a pre-rehearsed gag.[36]

After An Inconvenient Truth won two Academy Awards, The Agence France-Presse noted on 26 February 2007 that:"Many analysts believe he could yet enter the 2008 race for the White House although Gore has repeatedly said he is unlikely to run for office."[37] In addition in the 26 February 2007 edition of The Nation, John Nichols notes of Gore's speech at the Academy Awards:

No, Al Gore did not make any major announcements Sunday night. But he certainly did not still speculation about the prospect that he might yet enter the 2008 presidential race. The former vice president was never going to use the Academy Awards ceremony as a launching pad for a third presidential bid. In fact, no one familiar with the man could have imagined him even pondering such a stunt.[38]

Others have expressed an interest in seeing Gore run in 2008. According to the 6 February 2007 issue of The Santa Barbara Independent, when Gore received The Sir David Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 2, director James Cameron (who presented him with the award) stated: "Mr. Gore, I beseech you, for the sake of our children, to run for President",[39] Furthermore, the 8 February 2007 edition of The Washington Post notes in the article Supporters Push Gore to Run in 2008, "Veterans of Al Gore's past are quietly assembling a campaign to draft the former vice president into the 2008 presidential race _ despite his repeated statements that he's not running [...] In 2002, Gore asked [Dylan] Malone, to stop a draft effort he had begun; Malone did. Malone started up again and, so far, Gore hasn't waved him off."[40] In the 14 February 2007 article Why Al Gore Won't Let the Rumors Die for the New York Observer, Steve Kornacki notes, "It’s too much to say that Al Gore has decided to run for President in 2008. But it does seem that he wants to preserve the option."[41]

As of 2007, Gore's popularity has increased among progressives and supporters of the Democratic Party since his loss to George W. Bush following the close 2000 election.[42][43] Gore received 68% of support among potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidates on a May 2006 Daily Kos poll[44] and 35% on July 13, 2006 AlterNet poll.[45] A Gallup poll of August 2006 showed that nearly half of Americans currently view Gore favorably (48 percent to 45 percent).[46][47] A CNN telephone poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation of registered or independent leaning Democrats in November 2006 has Gore with 14% support in a theoretical multi-candidate Democratic primary.[48] A poll of Democratic Iowa voters in light of the 2008 Iowa Caucus put Gore at 7%.[49]

Private citizen

Visiting professor

Following his election loss, Gore accepted visiting professorships at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Middle Tennessee State University, UCLA, and Fisk University.

Nobel Prize nomination

In early 2007, Boerge Brende, a former minister of environment and then of trade in Norway, told The Associated Press that he and political opponent Heidi Soerensen, both members of Norway's Storting, had nominated Al Gore for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to draw the world's attention to the dangers of global warming. Norwegian lawmakers are among the thousands of people and groups with rights to nominate Nobel candidates.

The secretive Nobel committee never comments on specific nominations, but members often note that anyone can be nominated. In 2006 there were 191 nominations for the prize.[50]

Investment firm

Generation Investment Management Logo
Generation Investment Management Logo
Main article: Generation Investment Management

In late 2001, Al Gore became Vice Chairman of Los Angeles financial firm Metropolitan West Financial LLC. In late 2004, Gore launched an investment firm Generation Investment Management, which he chairs, to seek out companies taking a responsible view on big global issues like climate change. It was created to assist the growing demand for an investment style which can bring returns by blending traditional equity research with a focus on more intangible non-financial factors such as social and environmental responsibility and corporate governance.

Television network

Current TV logo
Current TV logo
Main article: Current TV

On May 4, 2004, INdTV Holdings, a company co-founded by Gore and Joel Hyatt, purchased cable news channel NewsWorld International from Vivendi Universal. The new network will not have political leanings, Gore said, but will serve as an "independent voice" for a target audience of people between 18 and 34 "who want to learn about the world in a voice they recognize and a view they recognize as their own."[51] The network was relaunched under the name Current TV on August 1, 2005.

The Digital Earth Vision

Main article: Digital Earth

Digital Earth was the label given to a visionary concept, made popular in 1998 by former US Vice-President, Al Gore, for describing a virtual representation of the Earth on the Internet that is spatially referenced and interconnected with the world’s digital knowledge archives. In a [5] speech prepared for the California Science Center in Los Angeles on January 31, 1998, Mr. Gore articulated a digital future where a young girl could sit before a computer generated 3-dimensional spinning Earth and access information from around the planet with vast amounts of scientific, natural, and cultural information to describe, entertain, and understand the Earth and its human activities. This vision states that any citizen of the planet, linked through the Internet, should be able to access vast amounts of free information in this virtual world, however, a vast commercial marketplace of products and services was envisioned to co-exist.

Digital Earth continues to evolve along two distinct lines of organization constructs. One construct is through a growing and deliberate global partnership of NGOs, educators, business, and government leaders collaborating together with the goal of enabling for future generations unprecedented technical and educational facilities for exploring the Earth, better understanding its systems, and investigating the impact of human activities. This Digital Earth community has dedicated itself to building a global community promoting down-to-Earth solutions based on cooperative use of standards, databases, and tools. Four international symposia (see International Symposium on Digital Earth) have been held around the world representing this community, with the 5th International Symposium on Digital Earth scheduled to be held in San Francisco during June of 2007. Other nations have been aggressively proposing to host the bi-annual ISDE conferences as a reflection of the nation’s interest in Digital Earth. Recently, an Israeli author published the novel Global Dawn that provides an overview of the early initiatives to create a Digital Earth community in Israel for the Middle East countries.

Promoting environmental awareness

Gore giving his global warming talk on 7 April 2006
Gore giving his global warming talk on 7 April 2006

According to a 27 February 2007 article in The Concord Monitor, "Gore was one of the first politicians to grasp the seriousness of climate change and to call for a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases. He held the first congressional hearings on the subject in the late 1970s."[52] During his tenure in Congress, Gore co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste in 1978–79, and hearings on global warming in the 1980s.[53]

As Vice President, Gore was a proponent for environmental protection. On Earth Day 1994, Gore launched the worldwide GLOBE program, a hands-on, school-based education and science activity that made extensive use of the Internet to increase student awareness of their environment and contribute research data for scientists.

In the late 1990s, Gore strongly pushed for the passage of the Kyoto Treaty, which called for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.[54][55] However, many of these proposals were not enacted by Congress, and/or were not implemented to the satisfaction of critics such as Ralph Nader.[56] In 1998, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia wrote Resolution S. 98 that [57] Gore and his family drive hybrid vehicles.[58]

Beginning in the fall of 2006, Al Gore and a team of climate change scientists and educators will train more than 1,000 individual volunteers to give a version of his presentation on the effects of — and solutions for — global warming, to community groups throughout the United States. The presentation and training program are based on the message Gore has been giving for more than two decades, which inspired the documentary film and book, An Inconvenient Truth.[59]

Interest in Al Gore's speeches reached such a point that a public lecture at University of Toronto on 21 February 2007, on the topic of global warming, led to a crash of the ticket sales website within minutes of opening.[60]

The Virgin Earth Challenge

Main article: Virgin Earth Challenge

On February 9, 2007, Al Gore and Richard Branson announced the Virgin Earth Challenge, a competition offering a $25 million prize for the first person or organization to produce a viable design which results in the removal of atmospheric greenhouse gases.[61]

Live Earth Concerts

Main article: Live Earth

Concerts will be held on July 7, 2007 as part of the Save Our Selves — The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis. Concerts will be held on all seven continents: Shanghai, China, Sydney, Australia, Johannesburg, South Africa, London, England, Brazil, Japan, United States, Antarctica.[62]

Environment: An Inconvenient Truth

Main article: An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore with other members of the crew during the acceptance speech for
Al Gore with other members of the crew during the acceptance speech for "An Inconvenient Truth" on Academy Awards' night

Al Gore starred in the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, which won the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.[63] The Oscar was awarded to director Davis Guggenheim, who asked Gore to join himself and other members of the crew on stage. During this time, Gore gave a brief speech:

My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis, it’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act, that’s a renewable resource, let’s renew it.[64]

The film also won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Original Song for Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up".[65]

The film was produced by Paramount Pictures, and released on May 24, 2006, and on DVD on 21 November 2006. It concerns global warming, an issue which Gore has followed since the 1970s. It is a warning regarding human contribution to climate change and the effects of not making changes in our behavior now. In the movie Al Gore states this is not a political issue but a moral issue. Before August it surpassed Bowling for Columbine as the third-highest grossing documentary film in U.S. history.[66] Gore has also published a book of the same title which became a bestseller.

An Inconvenient Truth Book Cover
An Inconvenient Truth Book Cover

Coinciding with the release, Gore appeared on the May 13, 2006 episode of Saturday Night Live. In the opening, he plays himself from a parallel Earth in which he won the 2000 Presidential race. Gore then addresses the nation on the fact that: they stopped global warming and glaciers are now attacking America; gasoline costs 19 a gallon; George W. Bush is Baseball Commissioner; welfare and Social Security have been fixed and America now enjoys universal health care; Gore helped develop an anti-hurricane/tornado machine; and the federal surplus is down to eleven trillion dollars. Gore later appeared on Weekend Update and engaged in a debate on global warming with Amy Poehler.

Internet and technology

Gore bill and information superhighway

Up until the early 1990s, Internet usage was limited as Campbell-Kelly and Aspray note in their 1996 text, Computer: A History of the Information Machine:

During the second half of the 1980s, the joys of 'surfing the net,' began to excite the interest of people beyond the professional computer-using communities [...] However, the existing computer networks were largely in government, higher education and business. They were not a free good and were not open to hobbyists or private firms that did not have access to a host computer. To fill this gap, a number of firms such as CompuServe, Prodigy, GEnie, and America Online sprang up to provide low cost network access [...] While these networks gave access to Internet for e-mail (typically on a pay-per-message basis), they did not give the ordinary citizen access to the full range of the Internet, or to the glories of gopherspace or the World Wide Web. In a country whose Constitution enshrines freedom of information, most of its citizens were effectively locked out of the library of the future. The Internet was no longer a technical issue, but a political one. The problem of giving ordinary Americans network access had exercised Senator Al Gore since the late 1970s. In 1990 he was the author of the High Performance Computing Act, which proposed the creation of a high-speed fiber optic network that would produce enormous leverage for the information economy of the twenty-first century.[67]

Gore began to craft the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991 (commonly referred to as The Gore Bill[68] ) after hearing the 1988 report Toward a National Research Network[69] submitted to Congress by a group chaired by UCLA professor of computer science, Leonard Kleinrock, one of the central creators of the ARPANET.[70] He discussed the basics of this bill in an article for the highly regarded September 1991 issue of Scientific American entitled Scientific American presents the September 1991 Single Copy Issue: Communications, Computers, and Networks. His essay, Infrastructure for the Global Village, commented upon the lack of network access described above and argues: "Rather than holding back, the U.S. should lead by building the information infrastructure, essential if all Americans are to gain access to this transforming technology" (150) [...] "high speed networks must be built that tie together millions of computers, providing capabilities that we cannot even imagine" (152).

The bill was passed on Dec. 9, 1991 and led to the NII or National Information Infrastructure[71] which Gore referred to as the Information superhighway. President George H. W. Bush predicted that this bill would help "unlock the secrets of DNA," open up foreign markets to free trade, and a promise of cooperation between government, academia, and industry.[72] Indeed, Leonard Kleinrock lists this bill as an important moment in Internet history:

A second development occurred around this time, namely, then-Senator Al Gore, a strong and knowledgeable proponent of the Internet, promoted legislation that resulted in President George Bush signing the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991. This Act allocated $600 million for high performance computing and for the creation of the National Research and Education Network [13–14]. The NREN brought together industry, academia and government in a joint effort to accelerate the development and deployment of gigabit/sec networking.[73]

Campbell-Kelly and Aspray also note the impact of this bill in Computer: A History of the Information Machine

Gore at the Ansari X Prize Executive Summit, October 19, 2006
Gore at the Ansari X Prize Executive Summit, October 19, 2006
In the early 1990s the Internet was big news...In the fall of 1990 there were just 313,000 computers on the Internet; by 1996, there were close to 10 million. The networking idea became politicized during the 1992 Clinton-Gore election campaign, where the rhetoric of the 'information highway' captured the public imagination. On taking office in 1993, the new administration set in place a range of government initiatives for a National Information Infrastructure aimed at ensuring that all American citizens ultimately gain access to the new networks (1996:283).

As Vice-President, Gore continued to promote this vision of the Information Superhighway. In February 1993, President Clinton and Vice President Gore submitted a report, Technology for America's Economic Growth[74] which outlined the ways in which their administration planned further development of what Gore referred to as the Information Superhighway by the year 2000. Gore further developed these ideas in speeches that he made at The Superhighway Summit,[75] on 1994-01-11 at Royce Hall, UCLA and for the International Telecommunications Union[76] on 1994-03-21. In addition, on 1994-01-13, Gore "became the first U.S. vice president to hold a live interactive news conference on an international computer network".[77][78]

Perhaps one of the most important results of the bill was the development of the Mosaic (web browser) in 1993,[79] the World Wide Web browser, which was developed under High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative, a program created by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991.[80] Mosaic is generally [81]

1999 CNN interview

As a result of the publication of three articles in Wired News,[82] Gore's 1999-03-09 interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer became the subject of heavy satire.[83] During this interview, Gore stated:

During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.[84]

Media reports surrounding this statement sometimes re-wrote it, stating that Gore claimed he "invented the internet".[85] Gore received support from members of the computer industry, however, notably Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Robert E. Kahn. Cerf and Kahn issued the following statement on 2000-09-28 in response to the controversy:

[A]s the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.
Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective.[86]

Gore, himself, poked fun at the controversy. In September 2000, as a guest on the The Late Show with David Letterman, he read a list of the "Top Ten Rejected Gore - Lieberman Campaign Slogans." Number nine on the list was: "Remember, America, I gave you the Internet, and I can take it away!"[87]

Aftermath: Apple, Google, and the Webbys

Despite the controversy, Gore continued to be involved with the computer industry. He has been a member of the board of directors of Apple Inc. since 2003[88][89] and serves as a Senior Advisor to Google Inc.[89] In 2005, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences honored Gore at the Webby Awards with the Lifetime Achievement Award "for three decades of contributions to the Internet". The Webby Awards, which are widely hailed as the Oscars of the web, "wanted to set the record straight" according to Tiffany Shlain, the awards' founder and chairwoman. She further stated, "It's just one of those instances someone did amazing work for three decades as Congressman, Senator and Vice President and it got spun around into this political mess."[90] Gore, during his acceptance speech (limited to five words according to Webby Awards rules), joked: "Please don't recount this vote".[91]

Hurricane Katrina

In September 2005, Gore chartered two aircraft to evacuate 270 evacuees from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.[92] He was highly critical of the government and federal response in the days after the hurricane.


Main article: Al Gore controversies

There have been some controversies about Gore and his actions. This includes possible improprieties during fundraising campaigns and the supposed heavy usage of electric power at his home.[93]

See also

  • Worldchanging


  1. ^ George W. Bush, et al., Petitioners v. Albert Gore, Jr., et al., 531 U.S. 98 (2000).
  2. ^ The Resurrection of Al Gore. Wired Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
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  4. ^ Bob Zelnick: Al Gore: A Political Life. Regnery Publishing, 1999, ISBN 0-89526-326-2.
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  6. ^ Albert Gore Jr.: Son of a senator. CNN. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
  7. ^ Al Gore's Move to San Francisco Generates Real Estate Buzz. Newswire. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
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  9. ^ For Gore, a 'Sordid Crusade'. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
  10. ^ For Gore, Army Years Mixed Vietnam and Family Politics. New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  11. ^ More Al Gore on Homeland Security. Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
  12. ^ a b Gore Chronology up to 2000 Frontline
  13. ^ The Clinton-Gore Economic Record. The White House. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  14. ^ announcement of National Performance Review
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  17. ^ Vice President's Reinvention Initiatives. The White House. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  18. ^ Earth-Viewing Satellite Would Focus On Educational, Scientific Benefits. Science Daily. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  19. ^ Vice Presidency's Economic Initiatives. The White House. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
  20. ^ Al Gore Takes on Al Gore. National Public Radio. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
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  23. ^ Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2001
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  52. ^ "Remarks By Al Gore, Climate Change Conference". Retrieved on 2006-09-01.
  53. ^ "Vice President Gore: Strong Environmental Leadership for the New Millennium". Retrieved on 2006-09-01.
  54. ^ ^ "Born Again", Guardian Unlimited, May 31, 2006.
  55. ^ "Larry King Live — Interview with Al Gore", CNN, June 13, 2006.
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  64. ^ Campbell-Kelly and Aspray (1996). Computer: A History of the Information Machine. New York: BasicBooks, 298
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  69. ^ ""The Internet rules of engagement: then and now" (PDF).
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  84. ^ a b
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  88. ^,8599,1594368,00.html

Further reading

  • Campbell-Kelly, Martin; Aspray, William. Computer: A History of the Information Machine. New York: BasicBooks, 1996.
  • Gore, Albert. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We can do about it. New York: Rodale Books, 2006.
    • Common Sense Government: Works Better and Costs Less. New York: Random House, 1995.
    • Earth in the Balance: Forging a New Common Purpose. Earthscan, 1992.
    • Access America: Reengineering Through Information Technology. Report of the National Performance Review and the Government Information Technology Services Board, 1997.
    • "Infrastructure for the global village: computers, networks and public policy." Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks September 1991. 265(3): 150–153.

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