On the May 21 Chris Matthews Show, Matthews, Time columnist Joe Klein, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, and BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay discussed former Vice President Al Gore's possible presidential aspirations, with Matthews commending Parker for her description of Gore in a February column, in which she said that Gore is "one slice short of a loaf," and Klein saying that Gore "looked like a madman" delivering a speech in 2002.
On the May 21 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, host Chris Matthews, Time columnist Joe Klein, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, and BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay discussed the possibility that former Vice President Al Gore will run for president in 2008. During the discussion, Matthews cited a recent column by Parker in which she criticized Gore's questions about U.S. policy toward Arabs, stating: "I like this phraseology. You said that Al Gore is one slice short of a loaf. ... Is he a little nutty, you're saying?" Parker responded that "there are those who say he has lost it," but added that "I'm not going to go quite that far." Klein declared that, although Gore gave a "brilliant" speech prior to the Iraq war, "[i]f you saw Al Gore delivering it, he looked like a madman." Later in the discussion, Kay said that one of the obstacles Gore would need to overcome in a White House bid is "he has to come across as somebody who doesn't fly off the handle."
In fact, while Parker told Matthews that she wouldn't "go quite that far" in saying Gore "has lost it," in her February 15 column, Parker did characterize Gore as a "bitter politician, who, sadly, seems to be one slice short of a loaf these days" and who engages in "insulting/silly/opportunistic/sycophantic speech."
As Media Matters for America noted, on the May 4 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Matthews said that Gore developed "a psychological problem" after his defeat in the 2000 presidential election and "went off and grew that beard and got weird." Media Matters has also documented other media figures' questioning of Gore's mental state.
From the May 21 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
MATTHEWS: Kathleen, you wrote a column recently. I like this phraseology. You said that Al Gore is one slice short of a loaf. I mean, that's like they say up in Massachusetts, they say things like, "He's got a few shingles missing from the roof." What's your point? Is he a little nutty, you're saying?
PARKER: Well, I think he's got -- there are those who say he has lost it. I'm not going to go quite that far. I think he's actually feeling very liberated from himself. I think he's having a great time. He's now the alpha wonk. And suddenly he has all of these admirers, and Hollywood loves him with his movie. He's got the lefty blogs.
MATTHEWS: Money, he's rich.
PARKER: He can probably raise more money than [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)], that's the latest, because he's got all this access to the Internet and the blogosphere.
KAY: He can come in late because he has the money and because he has the name recognition. He can get into this game pretty late in the whole process.
KLEIN: A lot of people can come in late at this point.
KAY: And that allows him to run himself as somebody who's an outsider.
MATTHEWS: But everybody knows who he is.
KLEIN: He's still living down the 2000 campaign, when he was run by his consultants. He didn't talk about global warming. Now he's being the Al Gore who he always wanted to be, and don't forget --
MATTHEWS: You know, I got this idea from your book. You don't have to sell it again, Joe, except for the people watching.
KLEIN: Yes, of course.
MATTHEWS: But I really do buy the argument. There was a lot of people who felt that he was overmanaged, overcontrolled. We never even saw the real Al Gore, which was this passionate guy.
PARKER: You know he's not going to hire someone to tell him what to wear this time.
KAY: But the question is, can he carry on being this passionate guy in a presidential campaign? I mean, the demands of a presidential campaign --
KLEIN: There's a big question here. If you read Al Gore's speech just before the war in Iraq where he came out against it, it's a brilliant speech. If you saw Al Gore delivering it, he looked like a madman.
KAY: If he's going to run, he has to lose some of that bitterness. He has to be able to come across both as somebody who's authentic, and maybe he's found that passion coalescing around the global-warming issue. And he has to come across as somebody who doesn't fly off the handle and isn't running just because he opposes Hillary Clinton. That's not enough.