Bush to Welcome Gore to White House

Forget the Mideast peace talks. A meeting that may require even greater diplomacy will take place Monday in the Oval Office, when President Bush receives America's Nobel Prize winners — including his one-time rival, Al Gore.

A lot has happened to both men in the seven years since the 2000 election.

The president has faced terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and war; the former vice president left politics to campaign against global warming.

But while Bush saw his popularity plummet, Gore's star has been rising of late — with his Oscar-winning movie "An Inconvenient Truth," and the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.

So, when they meet in the Oval Office on Monday, will they finally bury the hatchet? Don't bet on it.

"This is going to be a very uncomfortable moment for both of them," says Gore's former campaign manager Donna Brazile. "I think after the president looks at Al Gore and says 'congratulations,' Al Gore will probably depart the room."

The two men were dismissive of each other from the start, in a campaign that was fought as much over personality differences as policy.

But their rivalry was sealed by the election's historic outcome — a split between the popular and electoral vote, and a bitter fight over vote counting that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

There was a brief truce after 9/11, when Gore publicly called Bush his commander in chief, and pledged his support.

But in recent years, Gore has not hesitated to criticize the president's leadership. He was an early and vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and he has called Bush the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon. In his latest book "An Assault on Reason," he accuses the president of repeatedly breaking the law.

Bush, reflecting the stature of his office, has been more restrained. But his spokesmen have taken shots over the years, calling Gore a hypocrite, and saying, "it's not an effective use of time to pay much attention to what he says."

After Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, the official White House comment was a chilly "We're sure the vice president is thrilled."

Of course, even bitter political rivals often form friendships later in life. Look at John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — or Bush's father and Bill Clinton.

"I remember George Bush Sr. saying to me at one point, 'I can't imagine Bill Clinton and I will ever work together the way that Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter do,'" says ABC political analyst Cokie Roberts. "And now, they are."

In the case of these two rivals, however, it might take a while.

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