WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Al Gore’s likely Academy Award win for his global warming documentary may just be the ticket to ride his political ambitions toward another run for the White House, say some Hollywood watchers and political analysts.
Gore’s film, "An Inconvenient Truth," is at the top of a short llist of nominees to be named on Jan. 23 in advance of the Feb. 25 awards show.
The film about the economic, geographic and social impact of global warming strikes fear in the heart of environmentally conscious viewers and has become one of the highest-grossing documentaries of all time, collecting more than $41 million worldwide. A companion best-selling book and DVD release, along with a speaking tour and appearances on television shows like Oprah, have given Gore's labor of love worldwide exposure and widespread acclaim.
“The movie’s going to win because it is accurately depicting the real fear of global warming,” said FOXNews.com's "411" gossip columnist Roger Friedman, who predicted that the film is a lock for best documentary in the Oscar race.
Roger Simon, a Motion Picture Academy member and Pajamas Media CEO, said Gore will win the Oscar for reasons of convenience, not cinematic excellence.
“Artistically, it shouldn’t even be nominated,” Simon told FOXNews.com. “On that level, it’s very much like an old-style TV documentary.”
Simon, a well-known Web logger and no fan of Gore's, wrote in a recent column that two reasons for Gore's shoo-in victory is the slick packaging of the film and time constraints of the bulk of academy voters.
"These days we are all sent DVD screeners, which makes that process relatively easy. Not so for the documentaries, a much less commercial area (an exception being the richly-funded 'An Inconvenient Truth' for which we have all received DVDs)," he wrote.
This leaves documentaries to be judged by a very small group of volunteers from that division (estimated at 30-35 persons) who have time to troop down to the Academy to view the potential nominees. For the most part, these people are retired or close to it. Being of a certain age, their view of the documentary form is, again for the most part, from a different era. They tend to be more comfortable with old-style talking heads docs like Gore’s," Simon continued.
The global warming issue is one of Gore's great passions, according to the movie's Web site, which explains that after his 2000 presidential election defeat to President George W. Bush, Gore "re-set the course of his life to focus on a last-ditch, all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change."
At the movie's official premiere last May, Friedman reported that Gore told him he is not running for the presidency in 2008 because he is "too happy doing this.”
But the popularity of the film has pushed Gore back into the political spotlight, with some analysts suggesting the hot-button issue could nudge him into another run for the White House.
"The more energy behind the global warming issue, the more I got to think that Gore has got to think about getting back into politics," said Democratic strategist and FOX News contributor Bob Beckel. "If he gets a couple of awards for it, it's that much more exposure to help him."
Simon agreed, predicting that support for the film's political message will boost Gore's presidential ambitions.
“It’s going to get him tremendous attention,” Simon said. “This is a plus-plus for the former president.”
Conversely, Washington Examiner senior White House correspondent Bill Sammon, who covered Gore's campaign in 2000, said he doesn't see any award helping a presidential bid or pushing Gore to run again.
"I don't think an award for his movie would make a whole lot of difference in changing his mind for running or not," Sammon said. "I think that we're so far into the cycle right now that it's late to join" the race.
FOX News' Melissa Drosjack contributed to this report.