Gosh golly gee, ain’t Gore great?

Al Gore is the man.

Vice-president of one of the most celebrated administrations in U.S. presidential history, an Academy Award winner, rumored nominee for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, a successful business man, father of a Futurama staff writer, Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. is even courageous enough to grow a beard.

Sure, there have been some inconvenient truths about the lovable loser. While still U.S. vice-president, he was investigated by then-attorney general Janet Reno over fundraising issues. He made the unfortunate mistake of claiming to have created the Internet. He married a woman named Tipper. He lost the controversial 2000 presidential election ­–which wasn’t necessarily his fault–and then he grew a beard (something I wouldn’t consider a mistake).

Despite the stumbles, Gore is enjoying an astonishing and unprecedented rise in esteem. The biggest loser in American history has transcended his track record to become that nation’s greatest leader.

The 79th Academy Awards this past Sunday sealed it.

Next to Martin Scorsese taking home the award for best director, no ovation was greater than when Gore took the stage. He and Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio shared one of the most memorable skits of the night and host Ellen DeGeneres proved, although seven years removed, jokes about the 2000 election are still funny. Well, mildly funny.

Davis Guggenheim’s film about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, featuring Gore was named best documentary, and his presence at the event undoubtedly furthered the Academy’s decision to ‘go green’ this year. Many stars arrived in Hybrid cars instead of the usual gas-guzzling limousines.

While the movie folk were more than happy to have their photos taken in front of their Priuses, the fact they flew into Los Angeles on private planes that turn the sky a healthy shade of yellowish haze is largely ignored.

Therein lies the trouble. Americans are on a desperate hunt for leaders. They look in places like Hollywood, which is full of hypocrites. They are rightly skeptical of network news, so they look to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for answers. The Dixie Chicks learned the hard way that when your core audience lives in ‘red states’ the best thing to do is “Shut up and sing.”

There are no real leaders in the government either. George W. Bush’s approval rating is topping out at 35 per cent. The new democrat-dominated congress is slightly more popular, but primarily by default, as Bush’s jackassery is indefensible.

You can’t make soldiers heroes when they’re fighting an illegal war.

Athletes don’t take after Mohammad Ali in protesting war, social issues or demonstrating any strong opinions. After all, Peyton Manning has a Q score to worry about.

And in the midst of this mess, Al Gore emerges. His agenda is transparent: environmental damage is real with real consequences, and like the rest of the world, Americans need to accept a role in correcting it. He is unfettered by corporate interest, appears to be distancing himself from politics for the time being, and has miraculously managed to shed his duller-than-oatmeal exterior, putting forth a relaxed and genuinely entertaining core.

In a unique time in American history, Al Gore is a unique leader. One who has the chance to be both powerful and profound, creating tangible change in a troubled country.

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