When former Vice President Al Gore hosted "Saturday Night Live" in December 2002 he appeared in a skit that compared his vice presidential selection process from two years before to the dating reality TV 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 searingly critical of the Bush administration it's hard to discern what his plans may be.
On the one hand, Gore has written an un-nostalgic 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 just be a town's name and the nation would have been better prepared for Hurricane Katrina, global warming, and, yes, perhaps even Sept. 11.
But on the other hand, "The Assault On Reason" is an assault on President 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 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 lawbreaker, a liar and 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. Bush, he writes, "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."
"History will surely judge America's decision to invade and occupy (Iraq)…as a decision that was not only tragic but absurd," Gore writes.
"The Assault On Reason" begins as an academic discourse about the one-sided, corporate-controlled television medium with no interactivity.
Gore argues that television not only creates a dynamic that runs contrary to Thomas Jefferson's desire for a "well-informed citizenry" but lulls viewers in a partially immobilized state and allows unreasoned communicators to sell false bills of goods, such as, say, that there was a connection between the Sept. 11 hijackers and Saddam Hussein.