by adam mathes
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My Pal Al

I usually never discuss politics unless it provides the opportunity to say something I think is funny. And I don’t have anything that funny to say this time. But I can’t get through my daily television routine without seeing Al Gore, so I am bizarrely compelled to write about my pal Al.

This week alone he has already made appearances on some of my favorite shows, including The Daily Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and HARDBALL! with Chris Matthews. (HARDBALL! You’re watching HARDBALL! HARDBALL!! PS - Chris Matthews totally rules.)

He is making all these appearances to hype his new books, but specifically not as a candidate for the 2004 Presidency, as he continually told every host that he would make the decision to run over the holidays. That’s my pal Al’s first problem. I mean, nobody actually thinks he’s talking to Conan because anybody is excited about his stupid books that he coauthored with everyone’s favorite rap-hating censorship-loving woman with too much time on her hands, one of which is composed entirely of pictures they didn’t take or pick out. (They’re all about family. FAMILY! I love kids! I love family! I mean, there’s a real tough topic for somebody who wants to be the President to tackle.)

It borders on insulting to do a media blitz like this and continue to insist he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to be a candidate or not.

But Al’s inability to even take an unambiguous stand on something as trivial as whether he’s an actual candidate as he pontificates on the inadequacies of the Bush foreign policy is not the real problem. (It is a problem, though.)

The real problem is he’s still Al Gore, a guy so uninspiring and politically inept that in the midst of what by many indications was the greatest economic period in U.S. history he couldn’t even win his own state. And I say this as someone with genuine respect for his accomplishments and life of public service and someone that agrees with a good portion of his politics. But, seriously, I mean, people can bitch and whine and moan (with good reason) about how black voters were disenfranchised and little old Holocaust survivors inadvertently voted for Buchanan and how the Supreme Court had large conflicts of interest and handed Florida to Bush illegitimately all you want, but remember that none of that would have mattered if he would have carried his own home state. You know, the state that originally elected him to the Senate. The state he was born in. The state he lived in for years. That one, you know, Tennessee.

This Saturday my buddy Al will host the show that probably has more effect on the political process than anybody associated with the news media would want to admit, because it’s hard to admit that a bunch of sketch comedy writers have more influence on the political world than entire cable news networks when you are a political pundit. The show is, of course, Saturday Night Live. I’m not kidding here, this is his last hope to be President. This is important, honestly. Which is why I don’t understand why he isn’t sitting in a room with the writers and performers right now trying to save his chances at the Presidency instead of making moronic chatter with Conan.

This performance has to be funny and brilliant and show the American public that Al Gore is not a boring, stuffy, unfunny tool of the corporate establishment who stands for nothing, but a fun Southern gent with a good (but dry) sense of humor and slightly less corporate entanglements than the current President and who at least isn’t a complete war-mongering wacko. Above all, if he can make the American public laugh for a little while, and maybe actually get some people to like him instead of feeling stuck with him as a candidate, he might not get trounced.

But I doubt it. I mean, he lost Tennessee.

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