The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.
Today's the day Al Gore makes his long-awaited return to Capitol Hill. He last appeared publicly on the Hill to certify the Electoral College victory of George W. Bush, his rival in the bitterly contested 2000 presidential race. Today, he's back to testify before Congress on global warming, the issue that's helped the former vice president recast his image from wooden policy wonk to international media darling. Or, as The New York Times describes him in a front-page story, "a heartbreak loser turned Oscar boasting Nobel hopeful globe trotting multimillionaire pop culture eminence."
The Times compares Gore's appearance – he refers to himself as a "recovering politician" - to a "recovering alcoholic returning to a neighborhood bar." And while saving the planet is the issue of the day, Gore's political ambitions, or lack thereof, are sure to be widely discussed. Though he's said he has no plans to run for president "a million times or so, if never quite definitively," the question's certain to be asked again.
The Times adds that while Gore often expresses irritation at the constant talk about his political plans, "friends also say part of him clearly enjoys it, if for no other reason than it draws attention to his crusade on climate change."
2008 Money Train: Full Steam Ahead
Meanwhile, those candidates who have made up their minds about running for president are wasting little time raising money for what's expected to be the most expensive campaign ever.
According to the Washington Post, the candidates are collecting contributions at a record pace and loading heir schedules with fundraising events ahead of the March 31 cutoff for financial reports to be filed next month. The Post says the campaigns have established "virtually round-the-clock fundraising schedules, with candidates and surrogates participating in sometimes a dozen events or more in a day."
What's behind this manic drive to fill the campaign coffers so early? The Post cites several factors, including keeping the Hillary Clinton money train from leaving the rest of the field behind; voter unhappiness with the current administration; a wide-open race in both parties; higher contribution limits; and the decision by big states like California and Texas to move their primaries to the front of the calendar.
The result could be the candidates far outstripping the totals from previous campaign cycles, perhaps by hundreds of millions of dollars.
And in a big change from past campaigns, strategists from both parties say Democratic candidates could rake in more cash than Republicans this time around. However, the pressure to keep up with the financial prowess of the Democratic frontrunners, Clinton and Barack Obama, could force an early shakeout in the field.
"It's a contest of elimination," said Fred Baron, national finance chair for the John Edwards campaign. "If a candidate can't raise the money, it bodes poorly for that candidate and might cause them to rethink their candidacy."
The Return of the Emperor
"It was like Elvis getting out of the Army." That's how the Los Angeles Times describes the return of South Korea's most famous professional gamer after five months in the air force.
The Times says 27-year-old Lim Yo-hwan "is a god" in South Korea. Known as "the Emperor," his skill at playing the futuristic battle game StarCraft has turned him into "the first superstar of the e-sports era, South Korea's Babe Ruth of gaming."
His return to the electronic battlefield, representing a team of air force gamers, was greeted by a screaming crowd of more than 1,000 people in a Seoul arena, and another 1.78 million watching over the Internet and on TV
As for the match itself, Lim emerged victorious in five minutes, leaving his "overwhelmed opponent" slumped over his keyboard, "his thumbs pressed into his eyes."
Clearly, the Emperor was back.
A NOTE TO READERS: The Skinny is now available via e-mail for those of you umbilically attached to your blackberries and whatnot. Click here and follow the directions to register to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.