A native of Tennessee, Al Gore served as vice president of the United States under President Bill Clinton from 1992 to 2000, after a long tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He lost a presidential bid to George W. Bush in 2000. In 2007, Gore won a Nobel Prize for his work to raise awareness of global warming.
Born Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., on March 31, 1948 in Washington, D.C., where his father, Albert Gore, Sr., was serving as a Democrat in the U.S. House from Tennessee. His father also served in the U.S. Senate (1953-71) and was considered a possible vice presidential nominee (1956 and 1960). Gore’s mother, Pauline LaFon Gore, was one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School.
Gore’s childhood was divided between a hotel room the nation’s capitol during the school year and his family’s farm in Carthage, Tennessee, in the summer. Gore attended Harvard, where he roomed with future actor Tommy Lee Jones. He earned a degree with high honors in government in June 1969 after writing a senior thesis titled “The Impact of Television on the Conduct of the Presidency, 1947-1969.”
Gore opposed the Vietnam War, but said that his sense of civic duty compelled him to enlist in the U.S. Army in August 1969. After basic training, Gore was assigned as a military journalist writing for The Army Flier, the base newspaper at Fort Rucker.
Gore’s father was defeated for re-election to the U.S. Senate in November 1970, largely due to his liberal positions on many issues such as the Vietnam War and Civil Rights.
With seven months left in his enlistment, Gore was shipped to Vietnam, arriving in January 1971. He served with the 20th engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa and at the Army Engineer Command in Long Binh.
Entry into Politics
When he returned to the States in 1971, he worked as a reporter at the Tennessean. When he was later moved to the city politics beat, Gore uncovered political and bribery cases that led to convictions. While at the Tennessean, Gore, a Baptist, also studied philosophy and phenomenology at Vanderbilt University. In 1974, he enrolled in Vanderbilt’s law school.
Gore quit law school in March 1976 to run for the U.S. House from Tennessee. He was elected four times. He also became the first person to appear on C-SPAN. In 1984, Gore successfully ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate, which had been vacated by Republican Majority Leader Howard Baker. Gore pushed the High Performance Computer and Communication Act of 1991, which greatly expanded the Internet.
In 1988, Gore made a bid for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. He won five southern states on Super Tuesday, but eventually lost to Michael Dukakis. Gore remained in the Senate until presidential candidate Bill Clinton chose him as his running mate in 1992. They were elected into office that year and re-elected in 1996. During his tenure, he worked to cut back on government bureaucracy. But his image suffered when he was investigated by the Justice Department for his fund-raising activities.
Bush v. Gore
In his 2000 presidential campaign, Gore won the Democratic presidential nomination after facing down an early challenge from former Senator Bill Bradley. Gore chose Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut as his running mate, the first Orthodox Jew ever to be named on the ticket for a major national party. Gore won the popular vote, but conceded defeat to Republican George W. Bush after five weeks of complex legal argument over the voting procedure in the presidential election.
On December 10, 2007, Gore accepted a Nobel Prize for work on global warming. In accepting the prize, he urged the world’s biggest carbon emitters, China and the U.S., to “make the boldest moves on climate change or “stand accountable before history for their failure to act.” Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for sounding the alarm over global warming and spreading awareness on how to counteract it. “We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency—a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here,” Gore said at the gala ceremony in Oslo.
Despite speculation that he may run for the presidency in the future, Gore frequently stated that “I’m not planning to be a candidate again.”