Al Gore is flying to Chicago tomorrow to meet with Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Is it just to chat up and advise the new Democratic president and vice president? Or is there something more at work?
Obama is reportedly considering creating an energy czar. Gore would be the logical pick. As czar he would be able to help oversee the Transportation department, the Interior department, and the Environmental Protection Agency. He would have a powerful voice over everything from mileage standards to conservation requirements. Even as the Bush administration continues to try to gut regulations such as restrictions on mining and drilling in Utah's most pristine national parks, it must be awfully tempting for Gore to have the chance to put rhetoric into action.
His warnings about global warming, ridiculed when he first delved into the subject decades ago as a Congressman, have proven prophetic. George H.W. Bush even mocked him as "Ozone Al" in 1992. Now who's laughing?
During the Clinton administration, Gore devoted much of his energies to reinventing government and foreign policy. Now that his political career no longer hangs in the balance, Gore would be liberated to do what he believes is the right thing. As energy czar, he'd have the chance this time to reinvent, among other things, Detroit, which is sorely in need of reinventing.
For Obama the choice would only have upsides. The Democratic base, which is chafing at his cabinet choices, would be jubilant. If Obama is going to ransack the Clinton administration for advisors, then Gore seems like a logical move. He's the biggest name Obama could land. It would, you could even say, be an electrifying choice.