WASHINGTON — W. got the White House, the power and the carbon-burning SUVs. Al Gore got a slideshow and years of mocking from all the president's men.
Seven years ago, it seemed as if there was a clear winner and a clear loser, and a strutting Bush White House wasted few opportunities to rub it in.
Gore "changes his story and his tune so often on so many different issues that it's not an effective use of time to pay much attention to what he says" (Ari Fleischer, 2002); his "hypocrisy knows no bounds," (Scott McClellan, 2006); so it's not worth having "a lot of confidence in (his) judgments or commentary" (Vice President Dick Cheney, 2006).
Or, you know, not. Now Gore's back on top, continuing his climate change bling-a-thon by adding the Nobel Peace Prize to the Oscar and the Emmy.
Old Europe's Nobel committee said Gore's "strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."
That White House strut, meantime, is as distant a memory as cheap oil and 90-plus percent approval ratings. It's Cheney's judgment that's regularly mocked, not Gore's. The sophomoric-but-says-it-all bumper sticker of 2000 — "Sore/Loserman" — has been replaced by "Cheney/Voldemort '08."
The White House was suddenly gracious on Friday: Spokesman Tony Fratto declared Bush "happy" for Gore's "important recognition." As gracious as it could be, anyway: Fratto added that Bush, who routinely calls winning locker rooms, didn't plan to call Gore.
Which brings us to Al Gore's future. The netroots beseech him to attempt a comeback in 2008. The media salivates over the possibility.
But even armed with a Nobel Prize, or maybe especially armed with a Nobel Prize, Al Gore is still, well, Al Gore: Deep-sighing, slow-talking, lecture-us-all Al Gore. He's no longer just pedantic. Now, he's pedantic to applause from the Hollywood Left and from Old Europe. Even redeemed, however, he may play better in Stockholm than he does in Stockton.
Besides, it's not as if Republicans would ever abandon their Gore's-a-weenie routine. In fact, Cheney, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and other combative Republicans might see a Nobel Peace Prize as proof of weeniehood.