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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Al Gore

Aired June 13, 2006 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FMR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at the 10 hottest years ever measured, they've all occurred in the last 14 years. And the hottest of all was 2005.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, can you imagine New York City, Washington and San Francisco submerged beneath floods, deadly heat waves lasting weeks? Al Gore says we have 10 years to act, or we face dire consequences. And the former vice president is here to tell us how he thinks we can head off a global warming disaster.

Plus, how he would have handled things differently than President Bush, had he been president; whether he'll run for the White House in 2008 and more. Now here with me in this studio, one-on-one for the hour, former Vice President Al Gore, and he'll take your calls.

It's next on "Larry King Live."

It's always good to welcome him to "Larry King Live." He is the star and the producer. He is it on the motion picture, "An Inconvenient Truth," a wonderful movie that I happened to see and talk about frequently with friends. Whether you agree or disagree with its premise, it's beautifully made.

Before we talk about the film, Mr. Vice President, and a lot of other things, your immediate reaction to the president's trip to Iraq today.

GORE: Well, I think for security reasons it's wise for him to have done it in the way he did, and I think it's valuable for him to have a chance to meet personally with this new head of the government there.

Of course, the whole situation is so tragic, and how we got there is not the point now. We are there, and there are no real good options. But whatever options there are will be enhanced by a good working relationship between President Bush and this new leader, and so I think it's a good thing.

KING: It was a good thing to do?

GORE: Yes, I think it was, yes. Yes.

KING: Leave it at that. GORE: Yes.

KING: All right, now to the film, you're a film star now. What is it?

GORE: Well, I take that word, that phrase with a real grain of salt.

KING: You've got the highest per capita average of any movie in America?

GORE: Well, Davis Guggenheim, the producers, they've made a -- they've done a terrific job. I'm biased, but the audiences, regardless of their background, politics, ideology, are really reacting in just an amazingly positive way, and I'm very grateful for that.

And most of all, because the movie has a message that is urgent, and I hope it will be seen by as many people as possible, and I hope that the book will be as well. Thank you for having that here on the show.

KING: By the way, we do have the book. The book will be number three on The New York Times list this Sunday, same title as the film, "The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About it: An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore. It's on 125 screens now, and Friday it will be on 400 screens. In fact, let's see one of the more dramatic clips from the film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: The Arctic is experiencing faster melt. If this were to go, sea level worldwide would go up 20 feet.

This is what would happen in Florida. Around Shanghai, home to 40 million people, the area around Calcutta 60 million. Here's Manhattan, the World Trade Center Memorial would be under water. Think of the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees, and then imagine 100 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How scared are you?

GORE: Well, you know, there's an old cliche about the way the Chinese write the word "crisis." They have two symbols back to back. The first means danger, and the second means opportunity.

And we sometimes emphasize the danger in a crisis without focusing on the opportunities that are there. We should feel a great sense of urgency because it is the most dangerous crisis we have ever faced, by far.

But it also provides us with opportunities to do a lot of things we ought to be doing for other reasons anyway. And to solve this crisis we can develop a shared sense of moral purpose. KING: What if we don't do the things you want done?

GORE: Well, I'm an optimist, and I'm convinced that we will, but the leading scientists in the world on this issue, people like Jim Hanson at NASA, are now some of them beginning to say for the first time that we may have no more than 10 years before we cross a point of no return.

KING: And what will happen?

GORE: Well, the world wouldn't end the next day, but if they're right, and I believe they are, that would mean that the process of destruction and disintegration of the integrity of the earth's ecological system that supports human civilization would deteriorate and would be irretrievable. The good news again though, Larry, is that we can solve this and we have everything we need to get started.

KING: But you've got to be committed, right?

GORE: Save perhaps political will, but in America that's a renewable resource.

KING: The famous Stephen Hawking said today "It's important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species. Life on earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out." Go that far?

GORE: Stephen Hawking, I have the utmost respect for him, and I want to react to that statement in a couple of ways. If we did not take action to solve this crisis, it could indeed threaten the future of human civilization. That sounds shrill. It sounds hard to accept. I believe it's deadly accurate. But again, we can solve it.

Now, the second point I'd like to make is there actually is a kind of an illusion that some people have, that somehow we'll find a way to go somewhere else. There is nowhere else to go.

And perhaps in the distant future, thousands of years from now, there would be some ability to go as far as we would have to travel to one of these planets in other solar systems the astronomers are now discovering.

But it's important to realize that in the real world that we have to deal with, it's up to us to solve this crisis by reigning in all of the global warming pollution that's destroying the earth's ecological balance.

KING: Do you link Katrina to global warming?

GORE: It's a tricky question because there are people who will always say you can't blame a particular storm or hurricane or drought or flood on global warming, but here's the truth of it.

For a long time, the scientists have been telling us global warming increases the temperature of the top layer in the ocean, and that causes the average hurricane to become a lot stronger. So, the fact that the ocean temperatures did go up because of global warming, because of man-made global warming, starting around in the '70s, and then we had a string of unusually strong hurricanes outside the boundaries of this multi-decadal cycle that is a real factor; there are scientists who point that out, and they're right, but we're exceeding those boundaries now.

Separating the natural variability from the man-made global warming-induced change, that's one of the keys, and we're completely outside the range of natural variability.

KING: More in a minute. The guest is Al Gore. The subject, "An Inconvenient Truth," the film and the book, lots of other things to talk about, too. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: This is Patagonia 75 years ago and the same glacier today. This is Mt. Kilimanjaro, 30 years ago and last year. Within the decade, there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro.

This is really not a political issue so much as a moral issue. Temperature increases are taking place all over the world. And that's causing stronger storms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with former Vice President Al Gore. Frankly, should you have talked about this more in the campaign?

GORE: I did. It was not heard in the same way, and I think there are a lot of reasons for that. I think that anybody who is in a national campaign for office is perceived through skeptical winds, and that's not all bad.

Secondly, my opponent, then Governor Bush, had publicly pledged to regulate CO2 and had said he thought this was a huge problem and didn't change that position until the week after the inauguration. But during the campaign, that made it seem as if there was not that much of a contrast.

KING: So, he diffused it?

GORE: To some extent, and also this was at a time six years ago when more than half of all the news articles on this crisis were saying "Well, it may not even be real." And the debate in the scientific community is completely over now. There is no more debate about the fact that it's real. We're causing it. The consequences are bad, headed toward catastrophic. We need to fix it. And it's not too late.

KING: Could you have done more with President Clinton on this?

GORE: Well, I have to say that I don't know of a time when he did not take my advice on this. With the Kyoto Treaty, I wanted to push for ratification, but I have to say that it was perfectly reasonable for him to say "Look, our Congressional relations people tell us there is no support for it there" and I personally tried. I could only convince one Senator out of all 100 to say that he or she would definitely vote to ratify it.

So, no, you know, in every single weekly luncheon that I had with the president, this was right at the top of my list. And we did a lot of great things, and we did get the Kyoto Treaty, even if we couldn't convince the Senate to ratify it. And we had a Republican Congress to deal with after 1994 that made it rough going.

And actually, Larry, the reason I've helped to make this movie and the reason I've written this book is because one of the things I've learned in trying to solve this crisis is that whoever is in office is going to have to have a sea change in public opinion. I'm focused on changing the minds of the American people about this climate crisis.

KING: Then, frankly, why not run again?

GORE: Well...

KING: Why not? (INAUDIBLE).

GORE: I have been there and done that and...

KING: But you see the danger. You're well ahead of the population in it, obviously.

GORE: Well, I don't expect to be a candidate again and I...

KING: Have you thought about it?

GORE: I don't have plans to be a candidate again. I haven't made the so-called Sherman statement, but that's not to leave the door open. It's more sort of an internal shifting of the gears. I really don't expect to be a candidate again.

I think that the best use of my skills and experiences and energy is to try to change the minds of the American people and to the extent that I can, people elsewhere in the world. I really think that this crisis has to be seen as the number one challenge that we face.

KING: Let me try one more thing and I'll come back to the crisis.

GORE: OK.

KING: If there were a convention and they were deadlocked...

GORE: That doesn't happen anymore.

KING: ...and they came to you, it could happen.

GORE: No. KING: And they came to you?

GORE: No, no, no.

KING: But you're not saying there's no circumstances?

GORE: Well, as I said, I haven't made a Sherman statement, but I'm not trying to be coy about it. That really doesn't happen anymore, and believe me, I understand that it doesn't. And you will -- if you were a political reporter and you went to Iowa and New Hampshire, anywhere else in the country, you would look in vain for anyone who had been contacted by me or anyone on my behalf. I'm really not taking any steps. I have no intention, no plans to do that again.

KING: What can the next president specifically do about this?

GORE: We can solve the crisis, but the next president, whoever runs in both parties and whoever is elected, must have a different climate of opinion in the United States because when the people at the grassroots level feel an appropriate sense of urgency about this, then the politicians in both parties will start competing to offer the really meaningful solutions that are out there.

KING: So, he or she must lead the way?

GORE: Yes. Well, the dance of democracy is always between whoever is leading the country and what James Madison described as a well-informed citizenry. And renewing that political will and informing the people of this country about the reality of our circumstances, that's what I'm focused on.

KING: Would you say President Bush -- I don't want to put words in your mouth -- is a disappointment in this area?

GORE: Yes, sure, to say the least, to say the least. President Bush and Vice President Cheney have appointed to every key position that has anything to do with the climate crisis special interest spokesmen for the oil companies, the coal companies, and this is no secret. It's been documented over and over again.

The person he put in charge of the White House environment office, a fellow named Philip Cooney -- he was kind of a bit player -- but he ran the disinformation campaign on global warming for the American Petroleum Institute, and then he was -- even though he had no scientific training -- he was empowered to censor all of the reports on global warming that came from the EPA and from elsewhere in the government intended to alert the American people.

If he thought that ExxonMobil or one of the other handful of irresponsible companies on this issue wouldn't like it, he struck it out and I think that ought to be seen as an extremely serious breach of trust.

And the reason I'm concerned about it is our democracy must deal with this crisis, and we can only deal with it, and we will deal with it on the basis of truth. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. I learned that growing up. You did, too.

KING: The book and the movie "An Inconvenient Truth," when we come back lots of other things to get into with the former Vice President of the United States Al Gore. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: I've seen scientists who were persecuted, ridiculed, deprived of jobs, income, simply because the facts they discovered led them to an inconvenient truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before touching other subjects, we have an e-mail in from Mark in Jackson, Missouri to our Web site.

"I've heard reports that Mr. Gore believes that global warming is the biggest threat that our nation that it currently faces. Yet, to my knowledge, no one has died due to global warming and no one is expected to die because of it. So how can this threat be compared to things like terrorists, AIDS or bird flu?"

GORE: Well, actually the scientific community says hundreds of thousands of people each year...

KING: Die from it?

GORE: Absolutely, from the consequences of the enhanced heat waves, prolonged droughts, stronger storms, flooding, et cetera. These consequences happen all over the world, and the reason it's so serious is that it affects the entire planet and, yes, there are lots of people whose deaths have been attributed by the scientific community to the consequences of global warming already.

KING: Were you opposed to Iraq?

GORE: Yes, I was.

KING: From the get-go.

GORE: Yes.

KING: Because?

GORE: Well, the evidence available showed very clearly that we had been attacked on September 11, 2001 by Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaida terrorist organization. And I applauded President Bush's decision to go into Afghanistan to go after Bin Laden. I thought that was correct.

I think it was a mistake, though, to pull so many of our troops off of that hunt and divert to an invasion of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with attacking us, and even though we didn't like the dictator that was there, there are a lot of dictators out there right now that we don't like.

And I felt that, unlike the first Persian Gulf War, which I supported because Saddam Hussein had invaded his neighbor and was threatening the security interests of the U.S. and our allies and we had support from all our allies, the United Nations resolution, the whole world was behind us.

This was different, and here's the most troubling aspect of it, Larry. The evidence that was coming out of the CIA and the expert community was saying one thing, and it was the stuff they didn't want to hear, they were deep-sixing it and stuff that didn't make sense, they were ballyhooing. And it's the same thing that's happening with global warming. That's the point. They are doing exactly the same thing on this issue.

KING: Why deliberately? Are they deliberating saying ha, we want to go to war so we'll diffuse this? What's the point?

GORE: I think that they went to -- I think it was like a perfect storm. I think there were a lot of things going on in the administration. I think that Vice President Cheney was genuinely focused on trying to get a foothold in the region where the biggest oil reserves are, and he had written about and spoken about that for years before taking office.

Karl Rove said on the eve of the war that it was going to be a great political issue, and I think that actually played into it. And then I think that there were some in the administration ideologically driven who had this idea that they were going to plant democracy in countries with a majority of the population under 19 years old with no tradition of democracy.

And it's a, you know, great thing if you could do it, but there was a lack of realism about whether it was actually feasible, particularly with trying to do it on the cheap with far fewer forces than the heads of the military were telling them at the time was necessary.

KING: Are you therefore saying that every man and woman who died, died in vain?

GORE: Of course not, of course not. Any time a soldier serves our country we honor that service, and thank God for those men and women who have always responded to the call. And no one dies in vain who is serving the United States of America. But they deserve, as we all deserve, wise decisions where the policies are concerned.

Now, let me come back to this question of what the evidence shows and what the warnings were. The people who had the best grip on what was actually happening there issued warnings. "This is a mistake. You shouldn't do it. You're going about it the wrong way." And the warnings were brushed aside. Same thing happened, there were warnings with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The warnings were not heeded.

Now, the leading scientists in the world are warning us that we are facing imminently the worst catastrophe in the entire history of civilization with the capacity to threaten the future of civilization and these warnings are being brushed aside and ignored. And propagandists for oil and coal companies are put in a position of power to censor the warnings that the scientists are trying to get out to the people. I think that's outrageous. I really do.

KING: How do you end Iraq? Do you leave?

GORE: Well, yes, we need to get our troops back...

KING: Now?

GORE: ...as quickly as we can but we have to recognize that however bad I believe the mistake was in invading Iraq under these pretenses that turned out to be based on completely false impressions however big the mistake was in getting there, we now all of us, whether we thought it was wise or not, have a moral obligation to look at the situation as it is and try not to make the mess that's been created worse than it would otherwise be.

And we need to follow twin objectives, get our troops back home as quickly as we can. But secondly, we need to avoid the moral mistake of just getting out in a way that enhances the already high risk of anarchy and/or civil war.

KING: That's a thin line.

GORE: It is a thin line, and I said earlier in the program the unfortunate reality is we do not have good options now. We have to choose among the least bad options.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Al Gore. We'll also be including some of your phone calls on this edition of "Larry King Live." Lots more to talk about, the book and the movie "An Inconvenient Truth," don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with former vice president Al Gore. The book and the movie "An Inconvenient Truth." A couple of other things in the international area before we move domestically. If the Marines did that massacre at Haditha, what do you do? What does it do to us?

GORE: Well, the system of military justice has to be allowed to work its will. Unfortunately, it does appear likely that the highest- ranking officers in that particular chain of command reacted too slowly. And it's also the case, Larry, that these soldiers have been put into a really difficult, no-win situation. It doesn't excuse anything that they are ultimately found to have done. They are innocent until proven guilty. But just as years ago when unfortunate tragedies and atrocities occurred in Vietnam, we have to be willing to uphold the law and the morality on which our country is based.

KING: You were in Vietnam.

GORE: I was. I was an Army journalist.

KING: Ever see anything like it?

GORE: No, I did not. But of course, in all wars there have been excesses. But when you put these young soldiers in a situation where, you know, they were told -- or the impression was given that they were going to be welcomed with flowers and this was going to be a cakewalk and no big deal, and that was wrong.

KING: Should Rumsfeld resign?

GORE: Oh, sure. Well, I say it as a throwaway line. Yes, he should. I publicly called for his resignation after the Abu Ghraib tragedy. And I think that when we were talking earlier about the difficult options we have to get our troops home quickly and to deal with whatever slim chances -- and I hope they're not slim -- but whatever chances there are for them to actually make it in this transition, any policy we choose ought to be handled by a new team that is not vested in the mistakes that have already been made and a team that has better judgment than the group that has been part and parcel of the single worst strategic mistake in the history of this country.

KING: Your administration had the chance to get Bin Laden, didn't they?

GORE: Yes, and we tried.

KING: You don't look back and say should have, would have, could have, we had a chance, we missed?

GORE: We did miss. But we tried. We tried. And I think it's a legitimate question. As president Clinton has said to go back and examine what we could have done better. We tried. We were focused on it intently. And understand that the scope of that threat was beginning to increase toward the end of our term in office, and when the new administration came in, we all said to them, look, this needs to be your number one priority. And we went -- we actually took several shots at trying to get him and trying to kill him.

KING: Do you ever talk to President Clinton?

GORE: Sure.

KING: A lot?

GORE: Not a lot.

KING: Has he seen the movie?

GORE: I think that he has. And he's said good things about it. I haven't talked to him since the movie came out.

KING: Frankly, just a quick campaign note. Should you have, it's been said, used him more, in your campaign?

GORE: I talk about our successes and his leadership in virtually every speech in that campaign. KING: So you have no regrets?

GORE: Well, you know, no, I don't, but I have to say that whenever you come through an experience like that and look back, there are always things that you think you could have done better and differently.

KING: Aren't there a lot of times you have to say to yourself, "I got more votes. I got the most votes for a long time in American history."

GORE: I don't dwell on it. I made a decision to move on and to try to be of service in other ways and to make a fresh start. I started with my partner Joel Hyatt a new television network, Current TV. With my partner David Blood and my other partners I started Generation Investment Management. I work with some of the high-tech companies. And I'm focused most of all on trying to deliver this message about the climate crisis.

KING: The topic of Al Gore for president keeps coming up, of course. It came up with Tipper Gore on the prospects on ABC's "Good Morning America." Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIPPER GORE, WIFE: If he were going to run at some point in the future, I would of course support him. I think he would be a fantastic president. I mean, he already got the, you know, majority of the votes of people in this country once. And so that says something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So Hillary (sic) sounds -- she wouldn't mind it.

GORE: I hadn't seen that yet because Tipper and I were flying from...

KING: I said Hillary. That was Freudian.

GORE: Tipper and I were flying this morning from New Jersey to here in Los Angeles, and I haven't had a chance to see it yet. We TiVoed it, and I had heard that she did a great job.

KING: Think Hillary's the favorite?

GORE: I guess so. I think it's too early, though, to speculate on who the candidates will be.

KING: Will you support no matter who the Democrat is?

GORE: I'm certain.

KING: Will you support Hillary?

GORE: I'm certain I'd support the nominee. And sure. But look, I'm not even -- she is in a campaign for re-election to the Senate in New York. I don't want to jinx her, but she's going to win overwhelmingly. And I think it's really important for those of us who share my political persuasion to try to get a majority of either the House or the Senate, hopefully both, during these midterm elections this November.

Now, let me pause and say this, Larry. I'm happy to talk to you about politics, and I really believe that our country would be better off if we had a sharing of power with the legislative branch holding the president accountable, and I'm going do try to help Democrats this fall, but I'm focused on this climate crisis, and I believe it should not be seen as a political issue. I think it is a moral issue, and I want Republicans and conservatives as well as Democrats, liberals, to share the sense of urgency and this moral cause. Our future is at stake.

I don't want to imagine a future in which our children say, decades from now, what were our parents thinking? Why didn't they wake up when they had a chance?

In order to answer that question in the present, we have to lift this crisis out of the political framework and redefine it as a moral and ethical issue. It's really a spiritual issue.

KING: I've tried to separate it tonight.

GORE: OK.

KING: We'll be right back with Al Gore. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the next president of the United States, Al Gore!

GORE: I accept your nomination for president of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with former Vice President Gore. I want to include a phone call. Memphis, Tennessee. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

GORE: Hi.

KING: Memphis, are you there? Go ahead.

CALLER: You can hear me?

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: It's such a pleasure to talk to both of you. Al Gore, I voted for you repeatedly.

GORE: Thank you.

CALLER: And my mother and father voted for your father repeatedly.

GORE: Oh, bless you.

CALLER: And you are a native son. And I agree with everything that you have said.

KING: Do you have a question dear?

CALLER: Yes, I have a question.

GORE: She's doing great, Larry.

CALLER: You are box office. I read the stats last week. Your film did better than Jennifer Aniston's "The Break Up" in smaller venues.

GORE: Per screen, yes.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: So the question is, what do you think about being power box office? That's the first question. And the second question is, I agree with you so much about bipartisanship. What do you think your listeners -- what do Americans need to do to impress upon people in Congress no matter which side of the aisle they're on?

KING: What can they do? By the way, it is, as I said earlier, it is -- it's a terrific movie. In fact, it's a movie, no matter what you think of the subject, you should see.

GORE: Well, I want to say to the questioner, first of all, thank you for your kind words. I'm grateful. And on your first point, I have to tell you, I used to have -- when I was representing Tennessee in the Senate, I used to have a framed magazine cover on my wall in my Senate office, and it was a "New Yorker" magazine cover. It was a cartoon by that cartoonist named, I think George Booth, he does these funny-looking dogs, kind of snaggletoothed.

This dog was riding a tricycle with a funny little hat on on the stage of a grand opera house with all the tiers of seats filled with people clapping wildly. And the little dog is thinking -- he says, "I don't know why they like this, but I'm going to keep on pedaling." And that's sort of my self-image when I heard the phrase box office, or whatever.

KING: What can people do?

GORE: What people can do is to contact your elected representatives, congressman, senator, also your mayor, also the governor, your state representatives, and let them know that you believe this is the number one priority. Now, start by learning about it. Inform yourself. Go to the movie. Read the book. Go to the Web site climatecrisis.net. Learn for yourself in ways that enable you to express yourself, and then confront them with it and tell them you're not going anywhere until they deal with this.

KING: The passion you're showing here tonight, do you think you lacked that passion when you ran?

GORE: You know, I don't think so, but I do hear that a lot. And I think that again, when you're seen through the lens of a campaign, that changes things. Your opponents are painting negatives on you. And you're also, because the American people are -- want to hear from their candidates for president about lots of different challenges, different issues.

Having the luxury to focus on this most important crisis and just put all my passion into it, that is different. Also, Larry, there's a grain of truth to the old cliche that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And over the last six years I've maybe learned a few things.

KING: Al has learned to laugh, too, at the 2000 election. Take a look at a skit that he did recently on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: In 2000, when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much, yet challenges lie ahead. In the last six years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack. As you know, these renegade glaciers have already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine, but I assure you we will not let the glaciers win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Fun doing that?

GORE: It was great fun. It was great fun.

KING: Yours would have been a different presidency, right?

GORE: Sure. Yes.

KING: I'm going to get to Katrina and other things you might have done differently. But first, Anderson Cooper is out west this week. He will host "360" at the top of the hour. And I don't know about taking things to the extreme. He's on the roof. Other than effect, Anderson, why are you on the roof?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, it's a beautiful day here in Los Angeles, Larry. Why else would we be out here? We're on the West Coast all this week, tonight and tomorrow from L.A. From here we're going to bring you details on the president's super-secret and surprise trip to Iraq, and whether it's the beginning of better times for this administration.

Also the latest on Karl Rove. We'll talk to former presidential adviser David Gergen. He joins me to talk about all that. We're also going to give you an exclusive look inside what must be one of the darkest and dirtiest ways literally that illegal immigrants are coming across the border, actually crawling through active sewer pipes. All that and more, Larry, at the stop of the hour.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper, the host of "A.C. 360." It comes up at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. And he's right out here in sunny beautiful weather in sunny southern California. Right back with more of Al Gore. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Al Gore. Before we talk about immigration, a look back at then Vice President Al Gore debating Ross Perot in 1993. The most viewed regularly scheduled cable show ever happened right here. Well, it happened in Washington. The subject is how NAFTA would improve our relationship with Mexico. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: The best way to eliminate our influence down there is to defeat NAFTA. The best way to preserve it is to enter into this bargain, continue the lowering of the barriers. We've got a commitment that they're going to raise their minimum wage with productivity. We've got an agreement for the first time in history to use trade sanctions to compel the enforcement of their environmental standards. As they begin to develop and locate better jobs farther south, we cut down on illegal immigration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Has that happened?

GORE: Well, it's hard to say that illegal immigration got any better. It obviously got a lot worse. But it might have been worse still without the effort to try to boost the economy in Mexico.

You know, during the Clinton-Gore administration, we faced a couple of big challenges on that front. There was a financial crisis in Mexico and we took the bold step of shoring them up. And then when it came to this agreement to try to strengthen their economy and get more good jobs down there to slow down the flow of immigration, I think we did the right thing.

I think other developments in the aftermath of those years, principally the rise of China and the movement of jobs from Mexico to China and to other Asian countries, made the situation worse than it would have otherwise been. But without the agreement that was made and without the shoring up of their economy back then, it could have been much worse still.

KING: Was that night fun for you?

GORE: The debate? Well, it was like a prize fight or something in the debating arena. And thank you for hosting it. And of course, he had -- Ross Perot had been on your show so many times. I called you up out of the blue, and everybody was against it in the White House except for me and Bill Clinton. Everybody else said, oh, it was a terrible mistake.

KING: What do you think of the president's plan of sending National Guard troops to aid at the border?

GORE: Well, I think that a more secure border is in our interests. I think that militarizing the border is something that we need to be careful to avoid. But in a situation where you do not have control of the border at all, taking some steps to firm up the monitoring is acceptable.

But you know, I think that the politics of this have kind of driven the results somewhat, and I think the divisions within the Republican Party have been difficult for the president to straddle, and it's a little of this and a little of that.

KING: Aren't there days you say, "I wish I were there?"

GORE: Sure. What I miss is the ability to have an influence over the course of events that is of course...

KING: Is it frustrating?

GORE: ... Well, no, again, I've moved on. There's a lot about it I don't miss. I mean, there's a lot about politics that I don't miss at all. I think the whole political process has become...

KING: Really?

GORE: ... Kind of toxic, yes. But the ability to shape events and influence the course of events, I'm under no illusions that there's any position that's comparable to that of president of the United States to do that. And so, of course, I miss that.

KING: We'll be back with the remaining moments with Al Gore, touch a couple other bases, as well. The book, "An Inconvenient Truth," as the same name as the film. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORE: A few minutes to go. What did you think of Ann Coulter's remarks about the 9/11 widows?

GORE: I mean, it's hard to imagine why somebody would say that. And to me, I guess it's even more troubling that there seems to be some kind of market for it. It's covered as if it's clever spin. And it's cruelty, really. And I don't want to feed it by talking about it because it's -- it's cruel.

KING: Where were you on 9/11? GORE: I was in Europe. And I was about to make a speech on the future of the Internet in Vienna, Austria. And I walked into my hotel room before going down to the conference hall and had CNN on as I always do when I'm traveling or -- I'm not pandering to you. It's just a fact. A lot of people, Americans, always have it on. And the first plane had hit. And the second one was -- I guess it was only a few minutes after I turned it on that the second one came. I knew right away.

KING: Did you try to get back home right away?

GORE: Yes, I did. And they closed the air space. And it took a couple of days. And I finally said, get me anywhere in North America and I'll do the rest. I got to Canada and rented a car and started driving south to the memorial service, and President Bush had sent an invitation to be there.

And I was going to drive all night long and Bill Clinton called me on my cell phone, returning a call that I had made to him from Europe, and he said, "Hey, why don't you stop by the house in Chappaqua?" And I got there at 3:00 in the morning, and we talked until dawn and then got on the plane that they had sent for him to go down.

KING: Were your wives with you?

GORE: No. They rendezvoused with us at the National Cathedral in Washington for the service.

KING: Gas prices -- we've only got a minute left.

GORE: Yes.

KING: Gas prices going to go down?

GORE: Well, I've seen a number of -- over the last several decades, I've seen this happen several times, where they spike and then they do come back down.

But each time they go to a higher plateau. We almost certainly are at or near what they call peak oil, defined as having recovered a majority of the oil reserves at a certain price, affordability range. And so, with the new pressure on the consumption side from China and India, if they come back down, they won't stay down long.

KING: What do you drive?

GORE: I drive a hybrid. Tipper and I got a Lexus hybrid. And we have a couple of Priuses in the family with our children. And I encourage people to make environmentally conscious choices because we all have to solve this climate crisis.

KING: Thank you, Al.

GORE: Thank you, Larry.

KING: See you soon.

GORE: Thank you for having me on.

KING: Make the return visit sooner than four years.

GORE: That's a deal.

KING: In the interest of full disclosure, I saw this film, loved it and have been quoted in ads for it. The film is "An Inconvenient Truth," it's also a book that will be number three on "The New York Times" list this coming Sunday. Right now he's up there, Anderson Cooper will host "A.C. 360" from the glorious roof here in beautiful Los Angeles. Anderson, it's yours.

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