Gore involved, but not officially
Former Vice President Al Gore has made a name for himself advocating to slow the progression of climate change, and President Barack Obama promised to tap those skills once in the White House.
To find out whether Obama has fulfilled that promise, we turned the clock back to spring 2008, when Obama was asked at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania whether he would give Gore a Cabinet spot. Here's what he said.
"I would," Obama said. "Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now."
Clearly, Obama was giving the proposition serious thought at the time, though he made no specific promises. But news reports from last fall indicate that Gore was not so keen on an official post, according to his spokeswoman.
For whatever reason, an official role for Gore never worked out.
However, Kate Bedingfield, White House spokeswoman, says Gore is involved in a more informal manner.
"President Obama and senior White House advisers have had ongoing discussions to seek advice and counsel from former Vice President Al Gore as comprehensive energy and climate legislation works its way through Congress and as we engage with the international community."
If Obama has been consulting Gore on climate change issues, it has been done largely out of the public eye; we were hard pressed to find any instance in which Gore and Obama paired up publicly on the issue. The last time the two spoke together on the issue was in December 2008, shortly after Obama won the election. According to CNN, Gore sought a meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the issue. After the rendezvous, the three gave a news conference to officially pledge their support for a climate change plan.
Instead, Gore has been working behind the scenes to help pass climate change legislation in the House and the Senate. In June 2009, ABC reported that Gore was working the phones to rally support for the plan and "serving as an informal counsel to allies on Capitol Hill and inside the Obama administration." In a recent Newsweek article, Gore was described as getting regular calls from House and Senate leaders on the topic.
So, for whatever reason, Gore did not get a Cabinet-level position as Obama had originally indicated. But the White House says the two men are talking about the issue. And Gore has clearly kept up his role in the debate by advising key lawmakers on the issue. As a result, we'll call this promise a Compromise.
The New York Times,
The Climate for Change
, by Al Gore, Nov. 9, 2009
USA Today, Obama Would Find Cabinet Post for Gore , April 8, 2008
CNN, Obama and Gore: Time to Deal with Climate Change , by Alexander Mooney, Dec. 9, 2008
ABC News, Former Vice President Al Gore Pushes Climate Change Bill in Congress , by Rick Klein, June 8, 2009
Newsweek, The Evolution Of An Eco-Prophet , by Sharon Begley, Oct. 31, 2009
The Independent, Gore Rules Out Environment Job with Obama , by Leonard Doyle, Dec. 10, 2008