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Rising Star

For KCRW, this is Nick Madigan of the Baltimore Sun with Minding the Media.

Al Gore has been everywhere recently, splashed onto magazine covers, interviewed on television and profiled in newspaper articles. It's the kind of exposure politicians usually only dream about. He even was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival.

Gore's re-emergence is being propelled by the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, in which Gore lays out the dire implications of global warming.

Gore denies any further political aspirations, but the reams of articles about the film lead almost invariably to the 2008 presidential race. They're full of speculation that Gore might be the only person able to stop Hillary Rodham Clinton's seemingly inexorable ride to the Democratic Party nomination.

Gore is suddenly the Democrats' rising star. For the cover of Vanity Fair, he was photographed alongside fellow environmentalists George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who, incidentally, just wrote an eye-popping article for Rolling Stone about election fraud in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election).

But back to Gore. New York magazine called him "The Comeback Kid," a moniker first given to Bill Clinton in the "bimbo eruption" days of his 1992 campaign. The magazine said the "Gore boomlet" is being "driven by a sense of foreboding about Hillary" and his emergence since September 11 as "one of the Bush's administration's most full-throated critics."

After years of being viewed by the Washington establishment "with a mix of scorn and pity," the magazine said, Gore "no longer seems an entirely tragic figure but a faintly heroic one."

Wistfully, a story in the New Yorker said Gore is "the living reminder of all that might not have happened in the last six years." In a four-part series of stories titled "Making Sense of Global Warming," USA Today wrote that the former vice president's blending of Hollywood tactics with Washington savvy could pave the way for another Gore campaign for the White House.

In journalistic terms, Al Gore's public resurrection is a classic "bandwagon" story, the kind that numerous media outletsrun almost simultaneously, whether because of competitive zeal or simply a pack mentality.

Deborah Potter, a former correspondent for CBS News and CNN, said some stories "take on a life of their own and ricochet through the media."

In Gore's case, the widespread coverage has been helped by President Bush's abysmal approval ratings, various scandals in the Republican Party and the unrelenting chaos in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the right is gearing up to pop Gore's bubble. The College Republican National Committee's Web site is urging followers to "raise awareness on the falsities of the global warming phenomenon."

Dan Gainor, a spokesman for the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, calls the media's "lovefest" with Gore "ridiculous."

"The day that almost any conservative got this kind of treatment, I'd be stunned," Gainor said, perhaps unaware of the almost relentless coverage of a certain blonde author who shamelessly went after some of the 9/11 widows.

Gainor said he had seen An Inconvenient Truth and found it "incredibly self-promotional."

"The inconvenient truth here is that it's not just a movie about global warming," Gainor said. "It's a movie worshiping Al Gore. And he's no Orson Welles." Terry Michael, executive director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, said that Gore "doesn't have to do much beyond acting coy."

The press, he said, "loves idle, navel-gazing speculation about the next leader of the free world."

Oh, about that blonde conservative commentator everyone's talking about. That's the problem. Everyone's talking about her. Whenever she issues one of her obscene tirades, she riles up the masses, prompts frothing condemnations, and makes more money than she knows what to do with. Why are we contributing to this nonsense?

Ignore her, people. She's not worth the trouble.

This is Nick Madigan of The Baltimore Sun, Minding the Media on KCRW.

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