An Inconvenient Candidate?

Al Gore has spent a lot of time lately basking in the national – and international – limelight. Because of his catalytic role in the high-profile documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” he has been applauded and lauded for his consciousness-raising on behalf of global warming. Apparently he – and it – are pretty convincing.

Less credible, however, are his categorical denials of further interest in public office. As in re-upping for another presidential run in 2008.

“I have no interest in running for public office,” Gore recently told the New York Times. “I have run for office. I have run four national campaigns. I have found other ways to serve my country, and I am enjoying them.”

What Gore, 58, wants us to believe is that nothing is more important right now than devoting his energies into helping save the planet from itself. It’s a moral crusade.

He would also have us believe that — climactic Armageddon scenarios notwithstanding — he would absolutely preclude availing himself of the world’s best possible environmental forum with the most conceivable impact and leverage: the U.S. presidency.

What he told the Times is what the Times had to be told. Otherwise, Gore looks like the quintessential political opportunist who simply took his greenhouse slide show to the next level.

Look for Gore to undergo one more re-invention: Democratic deus ex machina. Waiting in the wings as the Democratic Party, sensing the presidency is theirs for the re-taking, looks longingly for the best “Anybody-But-Hillary” candidate as 2008 draws nigh. Which means the one who won the popular vote in 2000, who has spoken out against the war in Iraq and who has the ear of many in the international community could become lecturer-in-chief.

You can almost see Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, the presidential candidate backed personally by Gore in 2004, sketching his Gore ’08 draft slogan. “Save the Planet, Save the Country, Save the Party.”

Possibly in that order.

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