When former Vice President Al Gore hosted "Saturday Night Live" in December 2002, he appeared in a skit comparing his vice presidential selection process from two years before to the reality TV dating show "The Bachelor."
In one scene, Gore appeared in a hot tub with a faux Joe Lieberman, both of them shirtless, drinking champagne, arms locked, romance in the air.
Anyone then looking for clues to see if Gore would run for president in 2004 probably had no trouble discerning that an exploratory committee was not in the cards.
Almost five years later, Gore still says he has no plans to run for president, but his latest book, "The Assault On Reason," is so nakedly political and sharply critical it's hard to discern what his plans may be.
On one hand, Gore has written an stark look back at the previous six years that lays out his case as to how the world might look today had the chads fallen another way -- a world where U.S. troops would not be fighting in Iraq, Abu Ghraib would be known as the prison where Saddam Hussein tortured Iraqis not where American soldiers did so, where the nation would have been better prepared for Hurricane Katrina, global warming, and, yes, perhaps even 9/11.
But on the other hand, "The Assault On Reason" is an assault on President George W. Bush -- 308 pages of professorially rendered, liberal red meat that shuns the cautious language employed by any politician standing to the right of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and the left of Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
"I'm not a candidate and this is not a political book, this is not a candidate book," Gore told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America Monday. "It's about that there are cracks in the foundation of American democracy that have to be fixed."
In the book, Gore is accusatory, passionate and angry.
He begins discussing the president by accusing him of sharing President Richard Nixon's unprincipled hunger for power -- and the book proceeds to get less complimentary from there.
While Gore stops short of flatly calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, he certainly gives the impression that, in his view, such a move would be well deserved.
He calls the president a law-breaker, a liar, a man with the blood of thousands of innocent lives on his hands.
Most of Gore's ire stems from, not surprisingly, the war in Iraq, a war that Gore opposed from the beginning.
"I cannot remember any administration adopting this kind of persistent, systematic abuse of the truth and the institutionalization of dishonesty as a routine part of the policy process," Gore writes of the president's case for and conduct of the war, saying that the president's policies "have left us less free and less secure."
"We are less safe because of his policy," Gore writes. "He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us than any leader of our country in all the years of our existence as a nation. He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack because of his arrogance and willfulness," particularly but not entirely with the war in Iraq.
"He has also pursued policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name," Gore concludes.
"History will surely judge America's decision to invade and occupy (Iraq) … as a decision that was not only tragic but absurd," Gore writes.