Leveraging his aura as a technology seer and his political and climate work connections, Al Gore has remade himself into a wealthy businessman, amassing a fortune that may exceed $200 million, reports the Seattle Times.
That’s close to the $250 million net worth of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whom President Obama and Democrats targeted in ads and speeches as being out of touch with most Americans.
…The former senator, who spent most of his working life in Congress, had a net worth of about $1.7 million (in 1999) and assets that included pasture rents from a family farm and royalties from a zinc mine, remnants of his rural roots in Carthage, Tennessee. .
…Fourteen years later, he made an estimated $100 million in a single month. In January, the Current TV network, which he helped to start in 2004, was sold to Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Satellite Network for about $500 million. After debt, he grossed an estimated $70 million for his 20 percent stake, according to people familiar with the transaction.
Two weeks later, Gore exercised options, at $7.48 a share, on 59,000 shares of Apple Inc. stock that he’d been granted for serving on the Cupertino, California-based company’s board since 2003. On paper, it was about a $30 million payday based on the company’s share price on the day he claimed the options.
That’s a pretty good January for a guy who couldn’t yet call himself a multimillionaire when he briefly slipped from public life after his bitterly contested presidential election loss to George W. Bush in late 2000, based on 1999 and 2000 disclosure forms.
Gore isn’t finished exercising his Apple stock grants. Those 59,000 are part of 101,358 Apple options and shares of restricted stock Gore has amassed, according to company filings, giving his total holdings a gross value of more than $45.6 million today.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Al Gore, who takes aim in his new book at the corporate media for “suffocating the free flow of ideas,” on Tuesday defended the sale of his television channel to Al-Jazeera.
The Qatar government-owned news network earlier this month struck a deal to buy Current TV, the cable news network co-founded by the former vice president. The price tag was $500 million.
Gore told The Associated Press that he had no reservations about selling the channel to Al-Jazeera, which has won U.S. journalism prizes but has been criticized by some for an anti-American bias. The new owner plans to gradually transform Current into a network called Al-Jazeera America.
“They’re commercial-free, they’re hard-hitting,” he said in a phone interview. “They’re very respected and capable, and their climate coverage has been outstanding, in-depth, extensive, far more so than any network currently on the air in the U.S.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With its purchase of left-leaning Current TV, the Pan-Arab news channel Al-Jazeera has fulfilled a long-held quest to reach tens of millions of U.S. homes. But its new audience immediately got a little smaller.
The nation’s second-largest TV operator, Time Warner Cable Inc., dropped Current after the deal was confirmed Wednesday, a sign that the channel will have an uphill climb to expand its reach.
“Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service. We are removing the service as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement.
Still, the acquisition of Current, the news network that cofounded by former Vice President Al Gore, boosts Al-Jazeera’s reach in the U.S. beyond a few large U.S. metropolitan areas including New York and Washington nearly ninefold to about 40 million homes.
Gore confirmed the sale Wednesday, saying in a statement that Al-Jazeera shares Current TV’s mission “to give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling.”
Al-Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, plans to gradually transform Current into a network called Al-Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York, spokesman Stan Collender said.
Tennessee isn’t the only Southern state where Democrats have had difficulties in coming up with a credible candidate for statewide office, observes the Tennessean. While Tennessee Democrats have disowned and vowed not to support nominee Mark Clayton of Whites Creek in the U.S. Senate race — due to his views on gays and his association with an anti-gay group — their Alabama counterparts took an even more drastic step with one of their candidates.
The Democratic Party there disqualified its nominee for chief justice of the state Supreme Court because of comments he made online about the Republican nominee, accusing him of having “dementia” and being “a devil worshipper.” Party officials felt the comments were improper for a judicial nominee. It just so happened the Democratic nominee in question, Harry Lyon, also had a long history of entering and losing Alabama political races.
And in Mississippi, Democrats are relying on an 82-year-old to fill a ballot spot opposite incumbent Republican Sen. Roger Wicker. His name is Albert N. Gore Jr., who the Mississippi League of Women voters says is a distant cousin to Al Gore, the former Democratic vice president and U.S. senator from Tennessee.
Gore told National Public Radio that someone younger should be making the race but “they didn’t want to fight.”
“The lack of even qualified Democrats is really becoming a problem (in the South). More and more Republicans are running unopposed,” said Steve Borrelli, political analyst at the University of Alabama.
Tennessee is being ignored, as usual, in the presidential campaign this year – except, of course, for fundraising – and that is prompting a new round of talk about abolishing the electoral college system. Andy Sher rounds up some commentary on the topic. You can count former Democratic Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican, among the critics.
Both say the situation should end in which campaigns are forced to follow Electoral College strategies where the outcome trumps the national popular vote.
…But defenders of the Electoral College say no changes are needed. They argue mega-states like California and New York would dominate the popular vote and leave states like Tennessee an afterthought.
“The presidential election would basically be concentrated in the coastal cities, Los Angeles and New York,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. “And everyone else would be left behind. It would open it up more to fraud and electoral abuse.”
…Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican state Senate speaker, likewise voiced support for the current system.
“We have a long-standing, time-tested mechanism for choosing our president,” Ramsey said. “This process in rooted in a tradition that protects the interests of both small as well as large states. A National Popular Vote process that would either abolish or neuter the electoral college would eviscerate that delicate balance our founders strove to achieve.”
Former Vice President Al Gore apparently won’t be attending the Democratic National Convention, though is previously listed as a “super delegate” from Tennessee, reports The Tennessean as part of an overview story on Gore’s present status with the party. Gore also co-founded Current TV. Instead of speaking this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., as his party makes the case for another four years in the White House, he’s expected to anchor Current’s coverage from a New York studio, as he did when Republicans met last week in Florida.
….In late July, the Tennessee Democratic Party listed Gore as a superdelegate to this week’s national convention. (Note: A list of delegates distributed by the state party on Saturday still lists him as a super delegate.) But Current TV announced a week later that Gore would anchor the network’s coverage of both conventions.
Brandon Puttbrese, a spokesman for the state party, said Gore’s staff has said he’ll stay in New York rather than fly to Charlotte to cast a vote for Obama. Because alternates can’t vote for superdelegates, Gore’s absence would leave the Tennessee delegation down a vote.
It’s unclear if Obama’s campaign and Gore ever discussed a speaking role at the convention, which might have reminded liberal Democrats of Obama’s inaction on climate change.
Another excerpt from the Tennessean story: U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper chalked the 2000 vote up to the fickleness of the American electorate. Like the British people voting Prime Minister Winston Churchill out of office after he led them through World War II, voters didn’t realize what Clinton and Gore had achieved, Cooper said.
“We dream today of having a budget surplus, and Clinton gave us three in a row,” he said. “People in 2000 took that sort of prosperity for granted.”
….Friends say Gore has never discussed his deepest feelings about the (2000 presidential race) loss, which he publicly addressed with a gracious speech the day after the Supreme Court ruling.
Cooper called Gore “one of the greatest Tennesseans ever” but said he has “a lot of arrows in his back” as a result of his outspoken advocacy.
“There’s even a section in the Bible that says no prophet is honored in his hometown,” Cooper said.
— Note: The Tennessean says Gore declined to be interviewed. He’s turned down my last umpteen requests over the past decade or so, too.
Former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the 2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in the electoral college while easily winning the popular vote, has now called for abandoning the system, reports The Tennessean. “Even after the 2000 election, I still supported the idea of the electoral college,” Gore said Thursday during coverage of the Republican National Convention on Current TV, which he co-founded.
“The logic is, it knits the country together, it prevents regional conflicts and it goes back through our history to some legitimate concerns. But since then I’ve given a lot of thought to it, and I’ve seen how these states are just written off and ignored, and people are effectively disenfranchised in the presidential race, and I really do now think that it’s time to change that
“It’s always tough to amend the constitution and risky to do so, but there is a very interesting movement under way that takes it state by state, that may really have a chance of succeeding. And I hope it does. I think that it’s time. I think our country would be stronger and better if it went according to the popular vote.”
…Gore, the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2000, defeated Republican George W. Bush by some 543,000 votes nationally but lost the electoral college by five votes, 271 to 266. Bush’s win in Florida, where he prevailed by 537 votes statewide after a historic recount, put him over the top.
A snippet from Anne Paine’s report on a movie produced by Nashville radio talker Phil Valentine, an Inconsistent Truth, that attacks Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Gore’s movie is “lopsided to one side,” he (Valentine) said. “Ours is lopsided to the other as balance.”
Gore’s office declined to comment on Valentine and his movie.
Valentine’s statements came after the first showing — a private one — of the 90-minute film. It ended with hearty applause from the audience, which included the film’s volunteer crew, family members and supporters.
The movie overall equates environmentalism and efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases with a kind of religious zeal that is part of a political power grab. Note: Website on Valentine’s movie is HERE.
See also, Southern Beale, where the movie is deemed funny and summed up thusly: So, Valentine has basically made a documentary with an all-volunteer crew to debunk climate change by saying it’s phony because Al Gore is fat.
The tendency of Tennesseans to elect kinfolk of politicians previously elected is reviewed in an Action Andy Sunday story with Weston Wamp (son of Zach) in mind, The youthful son of a well-known Tennessee politician declares for public office and runs headlong into criticism about his inexperience and effort to ride the coattails of his famous father.
You may be thinking of Chattanooga Republican Weston Wamp. The 24-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., recently announced he will try to take the 3rd Congressional District seat his father held for 16 years from incumbent Republican Chuck Fleischmann, 50.
But then again, you could just as easily be talking about Harold Ford Jr.
The Memphis Democrat faced similar questions in 1996 when he announced, at age 26, that he was running to succeed his father, U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr., D-Tenn., in the 9th District. Ford won.
Or try Al Gore Jr., the son of former U.S. Sen. Al Gore Sr., D-Tenn. At age 30, a journalist with no political experience other than what he learned from his father, the younger Gore squeaked through a hotly contested 4th Congressional District Democratic primary in 1978 with just 32 percent of the vote.
He easily won the general election, went on to serve in the U.S. Senate and then was vice president of the United States for two terms before losing the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000.
There’s a good reason why any number of successful Tennessee politicians got their start, at least in part, by being the scions of veteran officeholders.
“No. 1, first and foremost, it gives you name recognition, and name recognition is expensive to buy. So it gives you a leg up,” said Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer.
And people who supported the parent may get behind the next generation.
Former Vice President Al Gore has settled into new office space in (Nashville suburb) Green Hills with a refurbished strategy on how to spread the word on climate change, according to Anne Paine. Gore has shifted from rallying support to pass legislation to try to stem climate change — an effort that resulted in a near miss in Congress — to an emphasis again on reaching everyday people.
The move has come as critics who insist warming of the planet is not a problem have barraged the public with their view through talk radio shows, op-ed pieces and other outlets.
Over the past year, he merged the nonprofit, Nashville-based The Climate Project — known for training individuals to give presentations to civic and other groups — and his Alliance for Climate Protection into The Climate Reality Project, in Washington, D.C.
Its first action is Sept. 14-15, when the Nobel laureate and author will host “24 Hours of Reality” to give a live, round-the-clock, global look at what is happening with climate.
The Nashville flood and unprecedented rainfall in May 2010 are featured in a slideshow along with floods in Pakistan that displaced 20 million people, Russian drought and fires that killed 50,000 and resulted in grain shortages, and drought in the Southwest this year that at one point resulted in fires in 252 of Texas’ 254 counties.
The event, streamed online in one-hour segments at climaterealityproject.org, will begin at 7 p.m. Central time in Mexico, moving around the globe to such locations as Tonga, Cape Verde, Jakarta and London and ending in New York City. The presentations will be given in 13 languages, depending on the location, with Gore leading the final one.