Let's say you were dreaming up the perfect stealth candidate for 2008 ... a candidate with the grassroots appeal of Barack Obama—someone with a message that transcends politics, someone who spoke out loud and clear and early against the war in Iraq. But you would also want a candidate with the operational toughness of Hillary Clinton ... In other words, you would want someone like Al Gore—the improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet". ...
The Assault on Reason will be hailed and condemned as Gore's return to political combat. But at heart, it is a patient, meticulous examination of how the participatory democracy envisioned by our founders has gone awry—how the American marketplace of ideas has gradually devolved into a home-shopping network of 30-second ads and mall-tested phrases, a huckster's paradise that sells simulated participation to a public that has all but lost the ability to engage. ... Gore hopes that the Internet, which is so good at inviting people back into the conversation, will be the key to restoring American democracy. "It's going to take time," he says. "After all, we've been veering off course for a while."
The call to arms is not just stirring, say Gore's followers, it's Churchillian.
Gore often compares the climate crisis to the gathering storm of fascism in the 1930s, and he quotes Winston Churchill's warning that "the era of procrastination" is giving way to "a period of consequences." To his followers, Gore is Churchill—the leader who sounds the alarm. ...
"It aggravates me when people say, 'He's the real Al Gore now' or 'He's changed,'" says Tipper. "Excuse me! He hasn't changed that much. ... So I see the same person, and I also see a new person who is free and liberated and doing exactly what he wants to do. And that is fabulous."..
That's the person Gore would risk losing if he re-entered politics. "He learned something from his very difficult time after 2000," says Schmidt. "I think he got more comfortable with who he is. He had to go through a difficult personal transformation in order to achieve greatness. That sets him up for the next chapter. I have no idea what he'll do. My advice is to do whatever he's most passionate about. Because that is working."
Whatever you think of Al Gore, this much is true: there's a real and avid market out there for the kind of message he preaches. A section of the public that can't be bothered to believe in the reality of terrorism is out there battling Global Warming. To them that's reality. And that fact is data.