Environmental Al Gore Is Back

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Gore replied, "No, no," adding, "There's a lot about the political process I really don't like. It's a toxic process. There are things I miss -- having the ability to influence events from the White House, of course. It's unparalleled, as I've said. But, you know, there's a lot about politics I don't think I'm particularly good at. And I also think that the urgency of creating a political environment where whoever runs for president in either party will be forced to respond to this [global warming] crisis is the most important thing that I can possibly do."

On the subject of Iraq, Gore, who opposed the invasion, said of the allegations of Marine misconduct and possible war crimes in Haditha, Iraq, "I don't have enough evidence to see how they've handled that particular set of charges. I don't think that we have enough information now to know how they have handled it. I think that the situation in Iraq itself has contributed to the impossible situation our soldiers so frequently have found themselves in, and so that's a part of it."

The former Democratic contender criticized his former foe's handling of the war.

"The environment has been set where truth is a career decision for this administration," Gore said. "When Gen. Shinseki told the truth about what was needed [in troop levels] before the war in preparing for it, he was cashiered prematurely. And so, the environment is partly involved. But where these specific allegations are concerned, I think that we need to let the process work. And I think the process of military justice can. And I hope we'll deal with this appropriately."

Gore, however, disagreed with Sen. John Kerry's, D-Mass., call to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year.

"I would pursue the twin objectives of trying to withdraw our forces as quickly as we possibly can, while at the same time minimizing the risk that we'll make the mess over there even worse and raise even higher the danger of civil war," Gore said.

Dismissing calls for any deadline, Gore added, "It's possible that setting a deadline could set in motion forces that would make it even worse. I think that we should analyze that very carefully. My guess is that a deadline is probably not the right approach; but again, you have to weigh that question in the context of how the political decisions are made between the Congress and the executive branch. Sometimes the Congress itself has blunt instruments and limited options to play a role in matters like this."

Regarding another hot political topic, the NSA wiretap surveillance program, Gore inched back from his previous statements that indicated he thought the issue was an impeachable offense.

"That's for Congress to decide," Gore told Stephanopoulos. "From what we know about it, it's hard not to conclude that it's a violation of the law."

When asked by Stephanopoulos how America would be most different had Gore become president, the former politician said, "It's hard to look in a crystal ball and see what would have happened."

He quickly turned the subject back to his pet cause.

"Let's just take the question of global warming," Gore said. "I would have urged the Congress and done my best to lead the country to take on this climate crisis, become independent of carbon-based fossil fuels as quickly as we can, to shift towards conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.

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