Al Gore received the Nobel Prize yesterday in Oslo. He also won the popular vote in the United States in 2000. And if there were an election today in the rest of the world, who doubts that he would defeat George Bush? The trajectories of these two men, both born in 1946, is fascinating. Bush avoided Vietnam, using family connections to be placed in the National Guard. Even in that safe, domestic role, the evidence suggests he was not quite a full-time soldier. As President, Bush has enjoyed parading himself before the troops as the commander in chief, but future historians will surely see the hypocrisy in his posing. Gore, in contrast, went to Vietnam, out of a sense of duty, but without enthusiasm for the war itself. Like John Kerry, he has direct experience of what it means to serve in a foreign war.
This is not the place for a full rehearsal of Bush's subsequent career, or to compare it with Gore's. Suffice it to say that after lying to the United Nations and charging into a war with Iraq, there is little chance of George W. Bush ever winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and absolutely no chance that he will be remembered as a man of vision with regards to the environment. Recall that Bush long denied even the existence of global warming. He has represented an old-fashioned view of the relationship between the economy and ecology, one that made him popular with oil companies and the boardrooms of Detroit car companies. By comparison, Gore has proved himself to be a man of vision, articulating the environmental crisis with clarity and compassion. In his speech, he emphasized that "without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. It is time to make peace with the planet." Try to imagine Bush making that statement. Try to imagine anyone believing him if he did.
It is an inconvenient truth for the American people, but Al Gore would have made a far better president than George Bush.