NEW YORK – Former Vice President Al Gore (search) on Thursday blasted President Bush as a "moral coward" who abandoned the public's environmental interests to accommodate his financial backers.
Gore, in a speech before a full house at the Beacon Theater, said it sometimes appeared that "the Bush-Cheney administration is wholly owned by the coal, oil, utility and mining industries."
The Democratic presidential candidate who lost to Bush in 2000 has issued a series of harsh critiques of the administration, previously accusing it of cracking down on civil liberties since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and mishandling post-war Iraq (search).
Gore accused the administration of gutting environmental laws. He criticized Bush for not acting to prevent global warming and for pushing to open parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (search) to drilling.
"While President Bush likes to project an image of strength and courage, the real truth is that in the presence of his large financial contributors, he is a moral coward," Gore said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie called Gore's comments "political hate speech."
"Like the Democrat presidential candidates, Al Gore has once again chosen to use his time at the podium to attack the president rather than put forward a positive agenda of his own," Gillespie said in a statement.
Gore's appearance was co-sponsored by MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group, and Environment 2004.