If anyone can understand Hillary Clinton’s pain and frustration of winning the popular vote in a U.S. presidential election, only to lose the presidency, it’s Al Gore. Back in 2000, as Clinton’s husband Bill was wrapping up eight years in the White House and she celebrated her successful campaign for a New York senate seat, Gore was locked in a weeks-long battle with George W. Bush over Florida’s electoral votes. Eventually, Gore conceded that Bush had won the electoral college and the presidency.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gore said he spoke with Clinton after her recent experience. He also admitted he longed for the change-making power he could have had as president of the United States.
“She’s experienced enough to not need advice from me, but I offered whatever words I thought might be both consoling and helpful. It was a good conversation.”
“I’ve never suffered the illusion that there’s any role in life with more potential impact for good than that of president of the United States. I’d like to think that I would’ve been able to do a lot more. I had big plans, and I’d like to think they would have made a big difference. But that was not to be. So I feel grateful that I’ve found other ways to play a constructive role.”
In a separate interview with Variety, Gore said he was not as shocked by Trump’s win as other election-watchers, although he’d believed the polls that showed Clinton was about to be elected the country’s first female president.
Following his battle in 2000, Gore had continued to support the electoral college, but in the Variety interview said he has recently come to change his mind.
“I think a direct election of the president would be in the best interest of the country, not because of the particular outcome of this election. Really, as a matter of principle, I think it would drive greater voter participation. I think the balance has tipped in favor of going to a direct vote. We’ll see. A lot of people like the system as it is.”
In response to people who fear a Trump presidency, Gore told Variety that the U.S. is a nation of laws with checks and balances.
Gore was speaking to media on the occasion of the Sundance Film Festival premiere of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, the sequel to his successful 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He told The Los Angeles Times that he’s not happy with the choice of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, although he stopped short of criticizing Trump’s stance on environmental issues. Gore met with then-president-elect Trump in December and told The Hollywood Reporter he was “receptive” on some things and the two men have remained in touch since then.
The change in the administration offers a dramatic bookend to An Inconvenient Sequel, since the film follows Gore as he promotes carbon reduction. The movie ends at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, out of which came the Paris Agreement to obtain net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century. Nearly 200 countries signed the agreement, including the U.S., although President Trump has indicated he may withdraw from the commitment.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is set for release on July 28, 2017.
[Featured Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]