Former Vice President Al Gore is back on the frequent flyer circuit – not to run for president, he has said (despite speculation to the contrary) - but for another kind of campaign: to show his global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."
Earlier this year, the film – which has Gore as its main onscreen star – was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah; Tuesday, it unspooled at a star-studded premiere in Los Angeles; Wednesday, Washington heavyweights turned out for a screening at the National Geographic Society; Saturday, Gore and "Truth" will play at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
Wednesday's Washington audience included Queen Noor of Jordan and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who joked that he made sure there were no Senate votes scheduled that would have interfered with attending the screening. Reid said the Bush administration has made a number of mistakes but that "nothing is comparable to his ignoring the death of our planet."
Gore's film is a follow-up to a slideshow he previously had been presenting on a tour around the nation.
Queen Noor, Reid and director Davis Guggenheim all became involved with the film after seeing Gore's presentation.
Noor, the American-born widow of King Hussein, says she has cared about environmental causes since she participated in the first Earth Day in 1970 and believes Gore's film is important because "it's objective, it's nonpartisan."
"This movie makes it possible to take a message to many more people in a much shorter period of time," says Gore. "If I can use the experience I gained from the years I spent in public service to better communicate that message, I'm going to do my best to accomplish that and just hope I can reach people to the best of my ability."
Tuesday, actors and activists walked a green carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of the film, which combines information about global warming with bits of Gore's personal story, including the Supreme Court's involvement in the outcome of the 2000 presidential election.
An event sponsor, Hewlett-Packard, brought guests from a nearby hotel in a vehicle powered by bio-fuel instead of gasoline.
Gore was applauded as he entered the Director's Guild of America theater and later engaged in some shop talk, praising director Davis Guggenheim for pushing him to improve his narration of the film.
"There were moments when I wanted to strangle him because he wasn't satisfied," said Gore.
Among those on hand in L.A. were Sharon Stone, David Duchovny from the "X-Files," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" co-star Larry David, comedian Garry Shandling, and snowboarder and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, who said he's interested in global warming because he believes it has reduced snow pack in the lower elevation mountains.
After the film, guests gathered at a reception where music included REM's "End of the World As We Know It."
It's not, Gore insists, a prelude to another run for office.
"I'm a recovering politician, on about Step 9," he says. "But I'm on a different kind of campaign now - to persuade people to take action to solve the climate crisis, and it's always easier when you're focused on one thing."
For most of his adult life, Gore was focused on the presidency. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1988 and served as vice president under President Clinton from 1993-2001. He narrowly lost the 2000 presidential campaign to George W. Bush, despite collecting more popular votes than the Texas Republican.
He's a richer man for his loss - literally. Gore is a senior adviser to Google Inc., a member of the Apple Computer Inc., board and co-founder and chairman of an investment firm.
Some Democrats aren't ready to count him out.
"If he's the guy we see today, I think he'd be formidable," says Joe Trippi, a Democratic consultant who helped run Howard Dean's Internet-fueled presidential campaign in 2004. "I think the real danger is if he were to run as an independent. If he did that, he would wreak havoc on the race in 2008."
Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said Gore looks better each day Bush is president.
"For some people, it took six years of George Bush to wake up and realize that Al Gore was the real deal," Sullivan said.
Privately, senior Democrats put long odds on Gore – who was both a Congressman and a Senator - running and winning the Democratic nomination.
Speculation about his future heightened last weekend when Gore opened NBC's "Saturday Night Live" with a skit in which he pretended to be the president of the United States, looking back on six years of accomplishments.
No global warming. No war in Iraq. No budget deficits. And gasoline at 19 cents a gallon.
Even so, he joked, there would be one big national crisis under a President Gore: "Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack."