Is Politics an Addiction?

Al Gore thinks so, and he’s been in rehab for over a decade.

Former US Vice President Al Gore speaks about climate change during the Fourth Annual Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 11, 2013. 
National Journal
Lucia Graves
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Lucia Graves
April 25, 2014, 8:51 a.m.

If polit­ics is an ad­dic­tion, Al Gore is still suf­fer­ing.

It’s been well over a dec­ade since he ran for pres­id­ent, but the former vice pres­id­ent still hasn’t man­aged to kick his polit­ic­al habit.

“I am a re­cov­er­ing politi­cian,” he said in an in­ter­view with Politico Magazine, “And the longer I avoid a re­lapse, the more con­fid­ence I have that I will not suc­cumb to the tempta­tion to run yet again. But I’m a re­cov­er­ing politi­cian. I’ll just leave it at that.”

If the an­swer sounds fa­mil­i­ar, that might be be­cause he’s been say­ing it since at least 2002, when he used that lan­guage with a crowd in Mex­ico City.

“I am Al Gore. I use to be the next pres­id­ent of United States of Amer­ica,” he told listen­ers dur­ing a speech fo­cused on free trade at Ibero-Amer­ic­an Uni­versity. “I’m a re­cov­er­ing politi­cian.”

In 2006, the rhet­or­ic sur­faced again when, after a spe­cial screen­ing of An In­con­veni­ent Truth, someone asked him im­plor­ingly if he’d run for pres­id­ent again.

“I’m a re­cov­er­ing politi­cian, on Step 9,” he said. “Thank you for your sen­ti­ment.”

That was eight years ago. Fast-for­ward to 2011, and there’s this: “I con­sider my­self a re­cov­er­ing politi­cian.” Fast-for­ward some more, and there’s this: “I’m a re­cov­er­ing politi­cian, on about Step 9.” (That last quote was from a 2013 event hos­ted on Cap­it­ol Hill by Sen. Shel­don White­house, and I re­mem­ber it, per­haps, be­cause I was there.)

If polit­ics is an ad­dic­tion, Al Gore is still in re­hab. And with­draw­al, like his talk­ing points, lasts a life­time.

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