Al Gore returned to Florida this weekend. And you know what that means. (Insert joke about butterfly ballots, hanging chads, Katherine Harris and Jews for Buchanan.)
He still uses the line about being a "recovering politician." It still draws laughter. But those of us who've followed Gore know he's emerged from the political wilderness as one of the most eloquent critics  of the Bush Administration, a favorite among the Democratic base and even a dark horse for the '08 nomination. By all accounts, his foray into Florida, campaigning for state candidates, only boosted his political fortunes. From the Orlando Sun-Sentinel :
"Welcome back, Mr. President!" someone yelled from the crowd as Gore took the stage.
"This was the scene of a crime," said West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, whose son, Marine Capt. Benjamin Lubin, has served in Afghanistan.
"We're very proud of him," Frankel said of her son. "But I can tell you, if Al Gore had been president, my son would not have been at war."
"I want to give you a couple of reasons to redouble your efforts," Gore said.
"Voter fraud!" an audience member quickly offered up, to the delight of the crowd.
"I'll let others talk about that, but I like some of what I heard out here," he said.
Call it the looser, freer, funnier Al. Gore 2.0. Maybe if he returned to politics Gore would instantly tighten up and start babbling about lockboxes. But--risking the scorn of many--I think he could pull a Nixon or Reagan and win back the presidency.
IF he's willing to take on his former boss's wife.