Al Gore Biography

Albert Gore, Jr., was born in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1948. His father, Albert Gore, Sr. (1907–1998), served in the House and the Senate for nearly three decades. His mother, Pauline (LaFon) Gore, was one of the first women to graduate from the law school at Vanderbilt University. As the son of a senator, Gore learned at an early age what it was like to live in the public eye. This gave him a sense of caution that made him seem mature beyond his years.

Gore received a bachelor's degree, with honors, in government from Harvard University in 1969. He then served as an army reporter during the Vietnam War (1955–75; a civil war in which South Vietnam, with the help of the United States, was fighting against Communist forces in North Vietnam). During the war, on May 19, 1970, Al Gore married his college sweetheart, Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Aitcheson. The couple eventually had four children.

After returning from Vietnam, Gore went on to work as a reporter in Nashville, Tennessee. He was also a home builder, a land developer, and a livestock and tobacco farmer. He went back to school, studying philosophy (the search for an understanding of the world and a human being's place in it) and law at Vanderbilt University.


Gore subsequently became chairman of the Emmy Award-winning American television channel Current TV, chairman of Generation Investment Management, a director on the board of Apple Inc., an unofficial advisor to Google’s senior management, chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection, and a partner in the venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, heading that firm’s climate change solutions group. Despite Gore’s major contributions to American political life and the private world of business, he most likely will be remembered as a prominent environmental activist raising global consciousness about the dangers of global warming. It has been said that in his post-Vice-Presidential career, having apparently embraced a career outside politics with no intention of contesting high office again, Gore is more comfortable in his own skin. The wooden, somewhat dull Gore familiar during the presidential campaign has been replaced by a more relaxed, even charismatic Gore.

Gore is now a businessman, and runs and works for several companies, including Generation Investment Management, Google, Apple Computers, and TV channel Current.

He is also a fighter for issues involving the environment. He released a movie in 2006 about global warming and climate change called An Inconvenient Truth, which was based on a slide show he had given to millions of people. In 2007, Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize which he shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Congress (1977–1993)

House and Senate

At the end of February 1976, U.S. Representative [42] Gore decided to quit law school and run for the House of Representatives:

Gore’s abrupt decision to run for the open seat surprised even himself; he later said that “I didn’t realize myself I had been pulled back so much to it.” The news came as a “bombshell” to his wife. Tipper Gore held a job in The Tennessean ' s photo lab and was working on a master’s degree in psychology, but she joined in her husband’s campaign (with assurance that she could get her job at The Tennessean back if he lost). By contrast, Gore asked his father to stay out of his campaign: “I must become my own man,” he explained. “I must not be your candidate.” [31]

Gore won the 1976 Democratic primary for the district with “32 percent of the vote, three percentage points more than his nearest rival”, and was opposed only by an independent candidate in the election, recording 94 percent of the overall vote. [43] He went on to win the next three elections, in 1978, 1980, and 1982, where “he was unopposed twice and won 79 percent of the vote the other time”. [43] Howard Baker. He was “unopposed in the Democratic Senatorial primary and won the general election going away”, despite the fact that Republican President Ronald Reagan swept Tennessee in his reelection campaign the same year. [43] Gore defeated Republican senatorial nominee Victor Ashe , subsequently the mayor of Knoxville, and the Republican-turned-Independent, Ed McAteer, founder of the Christian right Religious Roundtable organization that had worked to elect Reagan as president in 1980. [44]

Gore during his congressional years

During his time in Congress, Gore was considered a “moderate” (he once referred to himself as a “raging moderate”) [45] opposing federal funding of abortion, voting in favor of a bill which supported a moment in silence in schools, and voting against a ban on interstate sales of guns. [46] In 1981, Gore was quoted as saying with regard to homosexuality, “I think it is wrong”, and “I don’t pretend to understand it, but it is not just another normal optional life style.” In his 1984 Senate race, Gore said when discussing homosexuality, “I do not believe it is simply an acceptable alternative that society should affirm.” He also said that he would not take campaign funds from gay rights groups. [47] Although he maintained a position against homosexuality and gay marriage in the 1980s, Gore said in 2008 that he thinks “gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women. to join together in marriage.” [48] His position as a moderate (and on policies related to that label) shifted later in life after he became Vice President and ran for president in 2000 . [49]

Gore was one of the Atari Democrats who were given this name due to their “passion for technological issues, from biomedical research and genetic engineering to the environmental impact of the ” greenhouse effect .” [31] On March 19, 1979, he became the first member of Congress to appear on C-SPAN. [50] During this time, Gore co-chaired the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future with [51] In addition, he has been described as having been a “genuine nerd, with a geek reputation running back to his days as a futurist Atari Democrat in the House. Before computers were comprehensible, let alone sexy, the poker-faced Gore struggled to explain artificial intelligence and [31] [52] Internet pioneers Bob Kahn noted that,

as far back as the 1970s, Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high-speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship [. ] the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication. [53]

Gore introduced the Supercomputer Network Study Act of 1986. [54] He also sponsored hearings on how advanced technologies might be put to use in areas like coordinating the response of government agencies to natural disasters and other crises.” [53]

As a Senator, Gore began to craft the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (commonly referred to as “The Gore Bill”) after hearing the 1988 report Toward a National Research Network submitted to Congress by a group chaired by UCLA professor of computer science, Leonard Kleinrock , one of the central creators of the ARPANET (the ARPANET, first deployed by Kleinrock and others in 1969, is the predecessor of the Internet). [55] [56] [57] The bill was passed on December 9, 1991, and led to the National Information Infrastructure (NII) which Gore referred to as the ” [58]

After joining the House of Representatives, Gore held the “first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsor[ed] hearings on toxic waste and global warming.” [59] [60] He continued to speak on the topic throughout the 1980s. [31] [61] [62] In 1990, Senator Gore presided over a three-day conference with legislators from over 42 countries which sought to create a Global Marshall Plan , “under which industrial nations would help less developed countries grow economically while still protecting the environment.” [63]

Son’s 1989 accident and first book

On April 3, 1989, as the Gores and their six-year-old son Albert were leaving a baseball game, Albert ran across the street to see his friend and was hit by a car. He was thrown 30 feet (9 m), and then traveled along the pavement for another 20 feet (6 m). [10] Gore later recalled: “I ran to his side and held him and called his name, but he was motionless, limp and still, without breath or pulse[. ]. His eyes were open with the nothingness stare of death, and we prayed, the two of us, there in the gutter, with only my voice.” [10] Albert was tended to by two nurses who happened to be present during the accident. The Gores spent the next month in the hospital with Albert. Gore also commented: “Our lives were consumed with the struggle to restore his body and spirit.” [10] This event was “a trauma so shattering that [Gore] views it as a moment of personal rebirth”, a “key moment in his life” which “changed everything.” [10]

In August 1991, Gore announced that his son’s accident was a factor in his decision not to run for president during the 1992 presidential election. [64] Gore stated: “I would like to be President[. ]. But I am also a father, and I feel deeply about my responsibility to my children[. ]. I didn’t feel right about tearing myself away from my family to the extent that is necessary in a Presidential campaign.” [64] During this time, Gore wrote Earth in the Balance , a text which became the first book written by a sitting U.S. Senator to make The New York Times Best Seller list since John F. Kennedy’s [31]

What Lamar Alexander said about Howard Baker’s calls to Pauline Gore

Next morning I phoned Alexander. I asked him what he knew at the time of Baker’s phone calls “across the aisle” to Mrs. Gore in 1984. I thought surely Baker, his longtime mentor, would have coordinated carefully with him on such sensitive political moves with the Other Side.

“I didn’t know about the calls,” Lamar told me. “I knew Howard was close to Pauline Gore. And he was always reaching out to Democrats. He specialized in having good relationships with people on both sides of the aisle. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that he would call Pauline.

“Baker had recruited me over time to be his successor. Reagan had even talked to me about it. But I decided, pretty promptly, that I didn’t want to do it. It wasn’t a hard decision for me, when I had a chance to be governor for another four years. I wanted to finish the job. I thought it was wrong to ask the people for the job and then not finish the job.”

In the end, Reagan ran for a second term and was reelected. Baker did not seek a fourth Senate term. Gore ran, won, and took Baker’s seat. And the race between Alexander and Gore, of course, never happened.

Why did this story strike me so deeply? Why is such an old footnote to history so interesting to me now, half my lifetime later?

Answer: Because our politics today — so hyperpartisan and hardened in its spirit now, so nationalized and fierce in its tone — just isn’t like that anymore.

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