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Former Vice President of the United States
Author of the radical environmentalist work Earth in the Balance
Producer of the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth
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Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. was born March 31, 1948 in Washington, DC, to Senator Albert Gore, Sr. and Pauline LaFon Gore. He graduated from Harvard University in 1969 with a B.A. in government. Gore’s academic record at Harvard was mediocre. During his sophomore year, for instance, he earned a “D” in Natural Sciences and overall was in the lowest 20% of his class. As a senior, he earned a C-plus in Natural Sciences. On his college board achievement tests, he scored 488 (out of 800) in physics, and 519 (out of 800) in chemistry.
Gore enlisted in the Army in August 1969 and received an honorable discharge 21 months later. In May 1970 he married Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” Aitcheson, whom he had met five years earlier.
First elected to the House of Representatives in 1977 from his home state of Tennessee, Gore in the 1980s opposed President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (though he supported Reagan’s deployment of INF missiles in Europe); he advocated a freeze on America’s development of nuclear weaponry; and he voted to slash the Reagan administration’s defense budget. In 1991 Gore was one of the few Senate Democrats to vote in favor of a resolution endorsing the Persian Gulf War.
At one time in his political career, Gore opposed abortion. During his seven-year tenure in the House of Representatives, he voted “pro-life” 27 times and had an 84 percent pro-life voting record on abortion-related issues. In a May 26, 1987 letter to a constituent, he wrote: “During my 11 years in congress, I have consistently opposed federal funding for abortions. In my opinion, it is wrong to spend federal funds for what is arguably taking of a human life.” In order to make himself politically viable as a member of the Democratic Party, however, Gore later reversed his position on abortion.
In 1988 Gore made a failed bid to win the Democratic Party‘s nomination for U.S. President, campaigning against Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon, Jesse Jackson, and the eventual nominee, Michael Dukakis.
In 1992 Gore published Earth in the Balance, a book that offered a generally apocalyptic view of the damage that human industrial activity – particularly in the United States – was doing to the natural world. Likening mankind’s abuse of the environment to the depredations of Nazi Germany, Gore wrote that global warming threatened to create “an environmental holocaust without precedent.”
Also in 1992, Gore was elected Vice President of the United States on the Democratic Party ticket headed by Bill Clinton. Four years later, the Clinton-Gore team won re-election.
In 1994, Vice President Gore cast the tie-breaking Senate vote in favor of using corn for the production of ethanol as a fuel. While conservatives and libertarians argued at the time that subsidizing ethanol production made no economic or environmental sense, Gore and his green allies were certain that bio-fuels would solve the nation’s energy woes. Four years later, at a 1998 Farm Journal conference, Gore said the following about his role in subsidizing ethanol:
“I was also proud to stand up for the ethanol tax exemption when it was under attack in the Congress — at one point, supplying a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to save it. The more we can make this home-grown fuel a successful, widely-used product, the better-off our farmers and our environment will be.”
In 2000 Gore ran for the presidency but was defeated by George W. Bush in the most controversial election in American history. The outcome of the tightly contested race hinged on the final vote tally in Florida. Though the media announced Bush as the winner on election night (November 7), Gore challenged that verdict. Soon it was learned that in Palm Beach County, there had been an unexpectedly large vote for third-party candidates, leading to questions about the validity of the county’s allegedly confusing “butterfly ballots.” Meanwhile, large numbers of disqualified ballots, or ballots where no vote had been registered for president, were found in other counties. The Bush and Gore campaigns each sent teams of lawyers to Florida. The disputes and recounts that ensued would place the result of the election in doubt for more than a month, until December 13.
In September 2002 Gore expressed serious concerns about Iraqi president Saddam Hussein‘s ongoing efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction: “We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” That same year, Gore also stated: “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
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