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Al Gore’s Rock Star Vibe and What that Means for ’08

by Pamela Leavey

Al Gore has certainly got it going on these days, and tonight if his film “An Inconvenient Truth” wins the Oscar, Gore’s stock, as perhaps the “Coolest Ex-Vice President Ever” may rise yet again. The WaPo takes a look at the “What a year it has been for Al Gore and his little indie film,” noting that “AIT” is “the third-highest-grossing documentary ever, with a worldwide box office of $45 million, right behind blockbusters “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “March of the Penguins.””

The WaPo reports that if “AIT” director Davis Guggenheim, wins an Oscar tonight, “he plans to bring Gore along with him to the stage to accept the golden statuette and perhaps say a few words about . . . interstitial glacial melting? (More likely, Gore will deliver a favorite line about “political will being a renewable resource.”)”

In the year since his film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, to a standing ovation, Gore has gone from failed presidential contender — and a politician who at times gave new meaning to the word cardboard — to the most unlikely of global celebrities.

Incredible as it may seem, Al Gore is not only totally carbon neutral, but geek-chic cool. No velvet rope can stop him. He rolls with Diddy. He is on first-name basis, for real, with Ludacris. But what does this mean? And how did it happen? Did Gore change? Or did the climate — political, cultural, natural — change around him?

On his tours speaking about Global Warming, it seems that Al Gore is selling out at some venues “faster than Elton John.” “AIT” director Guggenheim says, “Everywhere I go with him, they treat him like a rock star.” It has certainly been a whirlwind year for Gore, pulling off a sort of marketing coup, for a film that “was not on anybody’s short list for theatrical release, let alone an Oscar.”

How did he do it? What happened?

John Lesher, president of Paramount Vantage, which purchased “An Inconvenient Truth” at the Sundance Film Festival explains:

from a marketing and branding perspective, Gore was lugging some very heavy baggage. “Democrats felt disappointed in him, and Republicans didn’t like him,” he says. “But it worked.” How come? What comes through in the film, Lesher says, “is here is this person who has gone through this incredible adversity” — Florida recount, Supreme Court decision, bye-bye White House — “and this is what he decides to do,” the one-man slide show, “and so you see this massive integrity.”

And nobody worked for the film harder than Al Gore, Lesher says: “He was an amazing collaborator, and unlike everyone else in Hollywood, he did everything he said he would do, which is unique in my experience.”

Gore worked the premieres in Edinburgh, Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, Sydney, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels, Berlin and Tokyo. In France, he not only attended the film opening, but presented his 90-minute Apple Keynote lecture to the National Assembly. He did the slide show at the United Nations, the American Geophysical Union, and before conservative activist Grover Norquist’s regular Wednesday meeting.

In an email exchange with the WaPo for the article, Gore explained, “I am trying to reach out to people in every effective way that I can find. In the process, I have had the chance to work with really interesting people from all walks of life.”

There’s been a lot of specualtion that Gore’s new rock star image will give Gore the impetous to run for president again. I’m not convinced. I think Al Gore has found his niche and it’s not one he’ll really trade to take a shot at the presidency again…

Is being president better than this?” muses Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democratic Network. “I think what Gore’s figured out how to do is something that a lot of people want to do. He’s living a life of great freedom and pursuing his interests, and he’s having an impact on public policy. He’s been able to start a bunch of companies and do the movie and he’s got this great life right now.”

“I agree” Gore typed, “that the Zeitgeist has begun to change. I think it reflects the increased popular will to confront and solve this crisis. It’s an extraordinary experience to see this issue — which the conventional wisdom used to say was politically marginal — become central for so many people. As it should. I also think that people see candidates through a different lens, and that is a factor. But I also think there is at least a grain of truth to the old cliche that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ So maybe I’ve gotten a little stronger in the last six or seven years.”

There was speculation around the blogosphere earlier in the week, including here, that Gore would announce another run tonight when he steps up to the podium to accept the Oscar, which in fact as noted above will go to the director. As I stated here on Tuesday, I don’t see that happening, for many reasons, including the “fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shies away from politics on that night and they stress with presenters and nominees to do the same.”

The WaPo points to Gore’s “Live Earth” press conference, where “Gore once again affirmed that he is not planning to enter the 2008 presidential fray, though this has not stopped the lefty blogosphere from imagining the jaw-dropping holy cow if The Goracle announces his run on Oscar night.” I think Al Gore made it crystal clear during the press conference that he has no intention of running again when he said, “I can’t imagine in any circumstance to run for office again.”

Al Gore’s rock star vibe is just beginning to peak. A run for president again would mean stepping away from his “Live Earth” concerts planned for early summer, to begin prepping for a run. So don’t expect any “jaw-dropping” announcements tonight, “That, say Gore’s most intimate insiders, is most definitely not going to happen.”

One Response to “Al Gore’s Rock Star Vibe and What that Means for ’08”

  1. There is a nice story about Al Gore’s substantial Katrina rescue efforts, which were kept very low-profile, at this post by joanpro at Talking Points Memo.