Jonah Goldberg
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Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter tells Huffington that, "Democrats are looking everywhere to find their presidential candidate." But, he says, "the solution may be right under their noses."

The reasoning behind the Gore boomlet extends beyond anti-Hillary angst. Gore won more votes than President Bush in 2000, which makes him not only popular but a lovable "victim," too. As one batty contributor to Huffington's blog puts it, "If Al Gore was the Democratic nominee ... there's no reason to think he would get any fewer votes than he did before."

But more important, he's "a new Al Gore" - more relaxed, more passionate, more this, more that. And, of course, his fame as an environmental crusader is his greatest attribute among the liberal cognoscenti. Yet there were hundreds of stories about how Al Gore was a "new Al Gore" in 2000. Indeed, save for the environmental crusader part, it was the same new Gore then that we see before us today. Does no one remember his bold switch to earth-tone shirts, sloppy smooches with his wife and passionate harangues about Big Oil and fiscal lock boxes?

In fact, there have been lots of new Al Gores. In 1987, Dick Gephardt groused that "maybe the next debate should be between the old Al Gore and the new Al Gore." In 1992, the press spotted the new Al yet again. The New York Times noted that "in Campaign '92, there is a new Al Gore - crisper, animated, more to the point, leavened with a bit of impish humor." In 2000, the new Al Gore did leave out his apocalyptic environmental messianism. But now the thinking seems to be that strident, green finger-wagging environmentalism would help him in '08. Good luck.

The truth is that there's always been just one Al Gore, a man betwixt and between his head and his heart, wanting to be both nerd-philosopher and poet-warrior - and coming up short on both counts.

It's reminiscent of another existential play, originally written in French, so Gore no doubt knows it well. In "Waiting for Godot," Godot never comes - and we are never even sure who Godot is. But we get the sense that the nonexistent Godot is really a Rorschach test of sorts, revealing more about what the audience wants him to be than anything else. So it is with those waiting for Gore.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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