Old Home Week: Bill and Al, Together Again

09/05/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bill Clinton gets the girl(s), and he and Al Gore are a team again. Let's party like it's 1995!

We all remember the tension of 2000. Clinton's impeachment had saddled Gore in the race against George Bush, and internal polls showed that Clinton hurt as much as helped on the campaign trail. As a result, he didn't do much because Gore's team was so concerned about it.

In fact, Gore didn't win Clinton's Arkansas that year. True, Gore didn't win his own Tennessee, either, but it was becoming more Republican by then. Of the two states, there is general consensus that Clinton could more easily have delivered Arkansas for his would-be successor. Those six electoral votes alone would have given Gore the election, even with conceding Florida to Bush.

There seemed to be some antagonism between the two men for years afterward, although both denied it. In 2008, Gore notably didn't endorse Hillary, but at least remained neutral and didn't endorse her main opponent until primary season was over.

Against this backdrop, Gore was the first person Clinton greeted when he walked off the plane in Los Angeles with the two American journalists who work for the former vice-president's "Current TV." The two men shared a bear hug that actually lasted a while, complete with back rub. It was meaningful.

Of course, unlike Gore, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson did make an endorsement in the '08 primary, and it wasn't Hillary. This came just six weeks after her husband had watched the Super Bowl with Richardson at the governor's mansion in Santa Fe. In his second term, President Clinton had named Richardson U.N. Ambassador and then Secretary of Energy. That, as they say, was then.

Maureen Dowd notes in her Wednesday NY Times column that as the drama played out yesterday in North Korea, "Richardson, labeled 'Judas' by James Carville after he endorsed Barack Obama in the campaign, was reduced to the supporting role of CNN commentator."

To his credit, Richardson was no doubt helpful leading up to this latest mission, having made several trips there himself. He must have provided insight into dealing with the Kim Jong-il regime.

Kudos to the Obama administration and all who quietly midwifed this effort. After Bush put the kibosh on direct dealings with North Korea, leading to eight long years of failure to stop its nuclear ambitions, it's good to see the art of realpolitik take center stage again.

Meanwhile, which of these two hugs warms your heart: