WASHINGTON – Al Gore is running again.
The former U.S. vice president is running to places including California, New York, Utah, Washington and France to promote a film — "An Inconvenient Truth" — chronicling his elaborate slide shows to educate people about global warming.
But is he running for the U.S. presidency?
The answer, he says, is no. Some Democrats are not so sure.
"I'm a recovering politician on about Step 9," Gore told The Associated Press. "But I'm on a different kind of campaign now — to persuade people to take action to solve the climate crisis, and it's always easier when you're focused on one thing."
Tune in to FOX News Channel for "Global Warming: The Debate Continues," Sunday, May 21, at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.
For most of his adult life, Gore was focused on the presidency. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1988 and served as vice president under President Bill Clinton from 1993-2001. He narrowly lost the 2000 presidential campaign to George W. Bush, despite collecting more popular votes than the Texas Republican.
He is a richer man for his loss — literally. Gore is a senior adviser to Google Inc., a member of the Apple Computer Inc., board and co-founder and chairman of an investment firm.
Gore is a longtime opponent of the Iraq war, which makes him a favorite of liberal Internet-savvy Democrats who dominate the party's emerging "netroots." And with his advocacy of climate change awareness, Gore is the leading voice on an issue that Republicans and Democrats alike say is gaining prominence among voters.
It is an issue that inspires passion in Gore, something his fellow Democrats say he lacked in 2000.
"If he's the guy we see today, I think he'd be formidable," said Joe Trippi, a Democratic consultant who helped run Howard Dean's Internet-fueled presidential campaign in 2004.
"I think the real danger is if he were to run as an independent. If he did that, he would wreak havoc on the race in 2008," Trippi said. "He could say, 'I've been out of the system and we have to do it in a different way. I want to lead the way."'
Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said Gore looks better each day Bush is president.
"For some people, it took six years of George Bush to wake up and realize that Al Gore was the real deal," Sullivan said.
Privately, senior Democrats put long odds on Gore running and winning the Democratic nomination.
They raised the same old questions about Gore: Can he connect with the average American voter and not let Clinton get in his way? While President Clinton's impeachment posed a political problem for Gore in 2000, the potential candidacy of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a New York senator, looms large in 2008.
Democrats close to Gore say the vice president has done nothing to indicate he will run in 2008. He has raised his visibility to promote the movie and the fight against global warning — neither of which are hurt by speculation about 2008.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Gore has not authorized them to talk about his political future.
Speculation about his future heightened last weekend when Gore opened NBC's "Saturday Night Live" with a skit in which he pretended to be the president of the United States looking back on six years of accomplishments.
No global warming. No war in Iraq. No budget deficits. And gasoline at 19 cents a gallon. The nation's big crisis under a President Gore: "Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack," he joked.
"The global warming issue has been good for him because he approaches it with a great deal of passion, something he was lacking in 2000," said Mark Byrnes, political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
Gore served as Tennessee senator from 1985-93 after eight years in the House of Representatives.
"An Inconvenient Truth" is keeping Gore on the road. He attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, earlier this year and was in Los Angeles on Tuesday for a movie preview.
He will attend a Washington preview Wednesday before heading to France for the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. The movie opens May 24 in New York and Los Angeles, the day a book of the same name goes on sale.
His focus, Gore said, is on global warming rather than the presidency.
"If I can use the experience I gained from the years I spent in public service to better communicate that message, I'm going to do my best to accomplish that and just hope I can reach people to the best of my ability," he said.