CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Britain's Daily Mail is reporting that Al Gore seemed insufferably boring and big headed during a recent charity appearance in London. It was the kind of review that dogged him during his days as a public official. In London, Gore was described as delivering a lousy speech that left supporters cold; he picked up a fat fee and wouldn't mingle with the crowd that paid to see him talk about global warming. If so, it might be a reversion or resumption of the kind of moody moments that Nobel winner Gore was known for during his U.S. political career as vice president and senator.
Over the years, as a newspaper reporter who covered Gore every now and then, I witnessed such episodes. Once, on the military airfield tarmac at Fort Campbell -- as troops returned from Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s -- Gore turned aloof and wouldn't speak. It was a joyous welcoming ceremony and heart-lifting moment to see soldiers come home from war and reunite with loved ones. Gore, however, was absolutely stony. He was Tennessee's U.S. Senator at the time, and he seemed like a grouch. It was a puzzling performance. Another time he came to inspect flooding along the Ohio River in 1997. He was vice president, did a quick photo op and mostly stayed away from people in their damaged homes. The Secret Service reportedly was concerned about his safety -- that debris in the Ohio River was hazardous. Cops, fire crews, relief personnel, even clowns from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey, were comforting those in shelters or battling the flood waters. But Gore beat it out of town, and it was a moment that raised eyebrows.
Then, a few years later as he campaigned for the presidency, he stopped at a Montessori school near downtown Cincinnati. It was a stultifying appearance, only adding to his reputation at the time as a wooden man or robot. Now the report from London, which sounded too familiar:
"Paul Hetherington, media manager for Water Aid, said: "Pictures couldn't be taken and people were being moved out of the main hall so they wouldn't experience the event. It was very disruptive. We had to apologise to people who were invited. We wanted to say thank you for all the support that many people had given us, but some of them were asked to leave. Many guests were invited by the hosts, so why should the speaker have any control over these guests and removing the media? It defeated the object of trying to raise awareness of the cause."
A Gore spokesman apologized for the limited availability at the London event.