Gore: Bush Leads "Assault On Reason"

Former Vice President Al Gore asserts it's time to act, to save American democracy as we know it.

In his new book, "The Assault on Reason," he argues that the foundations of the republic are threatened by today's politics of fear, as practiced by the Bush administration.

The former — and some contend future — presidential candidate laid out some of his arguments Wednesday to The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

The book's subtitle sheds more light on its contents: "How the Politics of Fear, Secrecy, and Blind Faith Subvert Wise Decision Making, Degrade Our Democracy, and Put Our Country and Our World in Peril."

The interview touched on whether Gore, who's also an environmentalist and Oscar-winner might, indeed, seek the Oval Office again.

Gore laughed and pulled away, saying, "No, no!" when Smith asked him to put on a "Gore '08" campaign-style button that Smith had picked up at a Gore lecture Tuesday night at George Washington University.

Photos: The Greening Of Hollywood
"I don't want to invite that kind of speculation, but thank you," Gore said.

Finally, Smith held the button up to Gore's lapel, saying he wanted to see what it looked like and a seemingly reluctant Gore held still, saying with a chuckle, "Yeah, OK. OK."

But Gore was very serious when taking the administration to task for its refusal to go along with proposed European Union targets to reduce greenhouse gases.

"That's an abdication of U.S. leadership in the world," Gore said. "We are the largest source of global warming pollution. We are the natural leader of the world. All of the other countries in the G-8 are unified and support taking action to save the planet's environment for us as human beings. And President Bush is opposed to it and is blocking any progress.

"We are putting 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere today and every day. This is a moral issue, and the fact that our country is not providing leadership and, worse, is blocking progress, should be an issue that brings protesters out, that brings people to speak their minds, loudly and clearly and forcefully on this."

Gore added he would certainly sign on to the EU goals if he were president.

In a portion of the book quoted by Smith, Gore writes: "We are less safe because of (President Bush's) policy. He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us than any leader of our country in all the years of our existence as a nation. He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack because of his arrogance and willfulness."

Those words, Gore told Smith, are "accurate. And I think that the deeper problem is how we have, as Americans, allowed the implementation of policies that have led to 150,000 troops being trapped in a civil war (in Iraq), just to pick one example. There are many."

In that regard, Gore points fingers at Democrats as well as Republicans.

"I criticize both parties and the system as a whole," he told Smith. "I say in the book, very clearly, that it's too simple and too partisan to simply place the blame on President Bush, because we have a Congress and free speech and independent courts and checks and balances, a free press. We are all responsible for the decisions we make.

"And if this administration persuades the Congress to vote in favor of invading a country that didn't attack us, it is important for us to look at the reasons why that was acceptable to the Congress.

"At the time of that vote, more than two-thirds of the American people had been given the impression — and believed it — that Saddam Hussein was the man who attacked us on 9/11. That wasn't true. And the fact that that case was made is bad, but what's much worse is that the immune system of democracy, our natural defenses against such gross errors, failed to work, and we have to address these underlying problems. Because whether it's the invasion of Iraq or the climate crisis or other crisis, there's lots of evidence available ahead of time that should be used to show that we should make a different decision."

Gore speaks in the book of an electorate he sees as disengaged.

"I think," he told Smith, "that's related to the fact that the American people don't feel as if they have a way to make their voices heard, to make their votes count. And for all the work on campaign finance reform — and I've always supported it — I do think it sometimes misses the elephant in the middle of the room, which is, as long as politicians in both parties have to rely on huge sums of money to buy 30-second television commercials, which is the principle means of communication in our democracy between candidates and voters now, then they're going to go to the people who reliably have that money year in and year out, and the special interests (and the lobbyists who represent them) dominate that group."

In the book, he advocates federal funding for elections.

To read an excerpt of "The Assault on Reason," click here.

To watch the Smith interview,


To see Bob Schieffer speculating on whether Gore will run for president again,


To see Gore interviewed by Smith on Mr. Bush's environmental stands,