A surprise guest at Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas, former vice president Al Gore diplomatically skirted around a question of whether he would take a position in a hypothetical Obama administration.
Without offering much in the way of a definitive answer, his response was, in essence, that he felt he could do more to advance climate policy outside of government than in it.
"I am really honored by the suggestion that some have made that I would consider taking a position of some kind in the next administration, and I want to convey my respect for the idea even as I explain why I don't think it's the best idea," said Gore. "The best use of talents and experience I have gained in my life is to expand the political space in which these members and politicians address the climate crisis."
"I am devoting my life to bring about a sea change in public opinion, across party lines, that supports the truly massive policy change that we have to have," he said.
Gore's response to the Obama question was one of the few times he weighed into the presidential race. He did, however, offer sharp opinions on some of the policy debates currently being waged between Obama and John McCain on energy issues; mainly ripping the presumptive Republican nominee's proposal to lift the federal moratorium on off-shore drilling and offer consumers a gas tax holiday.
"The idea that we can drill our way out of this is just so absurd not to warrant any serious consideration," Gore told a clearly excited crowd. "They used to say that a cure for a hangover was the hair of the dog that bit you. If you had a hangover you went and got another drink and it would help it go away. It's the sort of the same thing with these proponents of drilling. 'Oh, we're in a fossil fuel crisis? Well let's just dig for more.' I mean, when you are in a hole, stop digging."
Last week, there were grumblings from progressives after the former vice president praised John McCain - in addition to Barack Obama - for being "way ahead" of the curve on global climate change. After all, who better than Gore would understand that every piece of political real estate matters?
So it was with some applause and relief that the netroots audience listened to him riff on McCain's energy proposals (even if he didn't mention the candidate by name).
"Pretending that we can solve that problem just by opening a few more areas for off shore drilling...to produce oil ten to fifteen years from now that will be used by China anyways," he said. "Proposing to get a slight increase in oil drilling for fuel to be sold to China ten to fifteen years from now...makes about as much sense as responding to an attack from Afghanistan by invading some other country that had nothing to do with 9/11 or the Taliban."
Video of Al Gore's surprise introduction -- just before the beginning of the video, Speaker Pelosi was asked about Gore's climate activism: