Useful Notes / Al Gore
He didn't invent the internet,
but he wrote the alGOREithm.

"You win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category."

Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. (March 31, 1948-) was the Vice President of The United States under Bill Clinton from 1993-2001. Before that, he served as U.S. Representative for the Nashville area (1977-1985), and then as Tennessee's junior U.S. Senator (1985-1993). After Clinton was term-limited out of office in 2000, Gore became his party's nominee for President, running on a platform of "If it ain't broke..." against then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.

To the frustration of more than a few Clinton loyalists, the Gore campaign shifted from center-left to centrist in hopes of distancing him from the Monica Lewinsky scandal and what some considered a failure of oversight on Al's part. Gore started out from an advantage, as Clinton's approval ratings were still good and the economy was weathering the dot-com bubble, while Bush was viewed as little more than a brand name. That quickly changed over the course of the debates ("They misunderestimated me!"), when Bush successfully took the initiative away from Gore on the issue of Social Security privatization. Bush alleged that S.S. was going to go bankrupt if left unchecked. While Gore initially refuted this claim, he finally blinked and rolled out the "lockbox" plan, an opaque strategy to say the least. The lockbox was much-parodied and viewed by the electorate as a tacit admission that Bush was right. Unfortunately for Gore's camp, they fumbled the ball again by neglecting key battleground states — including Gore's home turf of Tennessee — which turned Red in spite of the assumption that they were in Gore's pocket. The endgame took place in Florida, where officials spent two months counting and re-counting ballots to determine who won the state; it was that tight, but Bush carried the election (and that's all that needs to be said). Had Gore not lost Tennessee, the votes gained in Florida would not have mattered.

After leaving office, Mr Gore became an environmental activist whose work, including the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, earned him a Nobel Prize. There were also some concerns that he exaggerated the dangers on some issues (e.g. the "hockey stick" graph), but he generally got more right than wrong. Gore's film was lampooned in various forms of American media for his seemingly textbook liberal agenda. In 2006 he was parodied in an episode of South Park in which he insists on alarming the residents about the existence of a "half man, half bear, and half pig!" The episode ends with Al Gore attaching a cape to himself and pretending to fly off. There was also some irony to be had with Bush's energy-efficient Crawford ranch, causing Gore's words to boomerang back onto his own lavish Nashville home.

He has also appeared multiple times on Futurama and on Current TV, a network he founded and co-headed until selling it in 2012 to Qatar-based news group Al-Jazeera.

No, he did not invent the Internet. No, he didn't say he did.

What he actually said was, "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." He was referring to, among other things, a law he authored and pushed through that opened up ARPANET (precursor of today's Internet) to beyond the military and select universities. For what it's worth, Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn have agreed with his statement, and he can be credited with coining the term "Information Superhighway."

Just for added strangeness, Gore was Tommy Lee Jones' roommate at Harvard. And according to author Erich Segal (who attended Harvard at the same time) the hero of his novel Love Story was based on a fusion of the two of them.

Much like his former running mate Bill Clinton, satirical depictions of Gore in popular culture have given him a surprisingly broad range of comedic personas over the course of his political career. When he was Vice President in the 1990s, they tended to portray him as an overly educated, monotonous-voiced Straw Vulcan, with many an Obligatory Joke about him supposedly being "boring". Later, after he became primarily known for speaking out about climate change in the 2000s, he was often humorously portrayed as a wild-eyed doomsayer ranting about The End of the World as We Know It.

Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

  • Adam Westing: Mainly on Futurama. He also plays himself in a West Wing sketch (along with Martin Sheen and the other regulars) on Saturday Night Live: The cast and crew try to usher him out of the Oval Office set, but Al refuses to budge, pretending to ring up Putin on a prop phone.