Al Gore is a former vice president of the United States, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and a leading environmental activist. He is best known for his role in the 2000 presidential election, which was one of the most controversial and disputed in American history.
Gore was born on March 31, 1948, in Washington, D.C., to a prominent political family. His father, Albert Gore Sr., was a Democratic congressman and senator from Tennessee, and his mother, Pauline LaFon, was one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. Gore attended Harvard University, where he majored in government and wrote a senior thesis on the impact of television on the presidency. He also met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” Aitcheson, at Harvard.
After graduating from Harvard in 1969, Gore enlisted in the army and served as a military reporter in Vietnam for two years. He then returned to Tennessee and worked as a journalist for The Tennessean newspaper, while also studying philosophy and law at Vanderbilt University. He entered politics in 1976, when he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 28. He was reelected three times before running for the U.S. Senate in 1984. He won the Senate race and became one of the youngest senators in history.
In 1988, Gore ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he lost to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. He remained in the Senate and became a prominent voice on issues such as arms control, environmental protection, and technology. In 1992, he was chosen by Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton as his running mate for the presidential election. The Clinton-Gore ticket defeated the incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle, and Gore became the 45th vice president of the United States.
As vice president, Gore was an influential and active partner to Clinton, overseeing initiatives such as the National Performance Review, which aimed to reform and streamline the federal government; the Reinventing Government program, which sought to make government more efficient and responsive; and the Information Superhighway project, which promoted the development of the internet and telecommunications. Gore also played a key role in foreign policy, especially in relation to Russia, China, and the Middle East. He was instrumental in negotiating and signing the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
In 2000, Gore ran for president again, this time as the Democratic nominee. He faced Texas Governor George W. Bush, the son of his former opponent George H.W. Bush, as well as third-party candidates Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan. The election was extremely close and came down to a few hundred votes in Florida, where irregularities and disputes over ballot counting triggered a series of legal challenges and recounts. The election was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 in favor of Bush in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000.
Gore conceded the election to Bush on December 13, 2000, after winning the nationwide popular vote by more than 500,000 votes but losing the electoral college vote by five votes (271-266). He became one of only five presidential candidates in American history to lose an election despite winning the popular vote.
After leaving office in 2001, Gore remained active in public life as an author, speaker, businessman, and environmentalist. He wrote several books on topics such as global warming, democracy, and technology, including An Inconvenient Truth (2006), The Assault on Reason (2007), Our Choice (2009), The Future (2013), and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017). He also founded or co-founded several organizations and companies related to climate change and sustainable development, such as The Climate Reality Project (formerly The Alliance for Climate Protection), Generation Investment Management (a firm that invests in green businesses), Current TV (a cable news network that was later sold to Al Jazeera), Apple Inc. (where he serves as a board member), Google (where he serves as a senior adviser), and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (a venture capital firm that funds clean technology startups).