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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore Presentation: Interview with Al Gore

Aired May 26, 2007 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Al Gore. Some say he's helping save the planet. Now they want him to save the nation and run for president. What would it take for him to say yes? Al Gore's here for the hour to answer your calls and e-mails. It's next. On LARRY KING LIVE.
His new book is getting an enormous amount of attention. It's "The Assault on Reason." The former vice president wrote it, Al Gore. He is our special guest for the hour. Also the subject, the front cover piece in TIME magazine called "The Last Temptation" of Al Gore.

What prompted writing this?

AL GORE, AUTHOR, "THE ASSAULT ON REASON": This book bubbled up because of my growing concern that in order to solve the climate crisis, we are going to have to address the problems in the foundations of our democracy that have kept us from acting on the basis of clear evidence that this crisis is real.

And when I was out talking so much about the climate crisis, and trying to get what I thought was the appropriate response, the country had a discussion, not really a debate, about the invasion of Iraq, a country that did not attack us.

And what the climate crisis and the invasion of Iraq have in common, Larry, is in both cases the policies are badly mistaken, and in both cases the evidence is available, overwhelming evidence to convince any reasonable person ahead of time that we should have done the opposite of what we did.

And so this book addresses the question, what is it that so many millions of Americans feel has gone wrong with our country? How can we fix it? How can we bring the people back into our democracy and start making better decisions on the basis of the evidence at hand?

KING: And it casts a wide swath. It takes on the White House. It takes on us. It takes on the media. It takes on some of your fellow Democrats.

GORE: Yes.

KING: Here is an item in the news today, and what is your thought on it? Democratic congressional leaders now plan to send President Bush a war-spending bill without a timetable for withdrawal. Has your party caved in?

GORE: I have not seen the proposal that you're asking me about. So it is kind of a...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But there's no...

(CROSSTALK)

GORE: You know, the tools that are available to the legislative branch of government are not always very precise. They are often blunt instruments. And they passed a measure that would have required a timetable. The president vetoed it. They were not able to override the veto. So their options have been sharply limited.

Again, I have not seen the details of what they have done but I have a lot of confidence in Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and rest of the leadership in the House and Senate now. And I'm sure that they have made some good decisions here.

KING: In that regard, are you disappointed in Joe Lieberman, your former running mate, who has run independent, and is staunchly pro the actions of President Bush in Iraq?

GORE: Well, I disagreed with Joe Lieberman on his policies toward the invasion of Iraq. But he's entitled to his own opinions. And let me tell you, he has been one of the leaders in trying to get an adequate response to the climate crisis for many years. And there are more issues that I agree with Joe on than those where we find ourselves in disagreement.

But, yes, I have disagreed with him on that.

KING: You would not call him a disappointment then?

GORE: Well, why would you use a word like that where a friend is concerned? We have had our disagreements and I have stated them. But I would not apply that to a friend.

KING: All right. As a strong critic to the administration, would you join with former President Carter in saying this -- he later retracted it somewhat, that this is the worst administration foreign policy-wise ever?

GORE: Well, as I was telling somebody the other day, I have recently begun to fear that I'm losing my objectivity where Bush and Cheney are concerned. So I'm not sure that I'm the best witness for whether or not his presidency is the worst or the -- nearly the worst. I didn't vote for him. I didn't think he should be president.

But that won't come as a surprise.

KING: Are you surprised that President Carter went that far?

GORE: Hmm, you know, he has earned the right to just say what he thinks and let it -- let the chips fall where they will. He always expresses his own candid opinions. And as to whether or not he later decided that was a breach of some kind of unwritten protocol between former presidents and presidents, unfortunately, I'm not intimately familiar with those rules of protocol.

KING: Former presidents have often criticized presidents. So it goes back in history, goes back a long way, as presidents do. I mean, there is no...

(CROSSTALK)

GORE: You know, I think in recent decades, there has probably been less of that. But you know, I'm for him saying whatever he wants to.

KING: Now what about those who say, Al -- I can call you Al because we know each other a long time.

GORE: Absolutely.

KING: If you're this critical and so on top of the scene and you know what's going on, why not throw the hat in? Why not put the money where the mouth is?

GORE: You're talking about becoming a candidate for president?

KING: Yes. Or saying, well, what if the candidates -- what if Obama wins California and Clinton wins New York and someone else wins Illinois and there's a whole split, I would go in to the breach. Why not?

GORE: Well, if you do, I would be for you.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But the question is, why not?

GORE: Yes. Well, look, I'm not inviting such questions.

KING: I know.

GORE: I appreciate such questions. I saw the framing of your program here, will Gore run? That's not the reason I'm here. I appreciate you mentioning "The Assault on Reason" and...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: And I'm going to talk a lot about it. It's a fair question though.

GORE: Of course it is. And I'm -- but here is my -- and you know my answer, that's the problem. Because I don't want to sound repetitive. I am not thinking about being a candidate. I have no plans to be a candidate. But, yes, it's true, I have not made a so- called Sherman statement and ruled it out for all time. I see no reason or necessity to do that.

But that's not an effort to be coy or to prop the door open or to invite such speculation. Look, I don't know why it's ordained that one -- that as soon as one presidential campaign is over with, the next one begins right away. I'm one of those who doesn't like to see the Christmas goods put into storage right after Halloween.

And I think the American people are not well-served by having an endless campaign. We are 500 days away from the next election. So why just sort of close up the field and say, OK, this is it. Place your bets. I don't have to play that game.

KING: No, you don't. But -- and I don't mean to be coy, but why not take the Sherman approach? Why not say, I don't want to run, and if nominated, I won't serve?

GORE: Or whatever. Well, I see no reason to do that. Why would I do that?

KING: Because when you don't, you leave things open.

GORE: Well, look, I'm 59 years old, 59 is the new 58.

KING: And you're 40.

GORE: Well, I have not closed the door at some point in the future to consider being a candidate. But even saying that makes me want to immediately follow up with another disclaimer. Because I don't expect it to happen. And I'm not jockeying to create an opportunity for it.

Look, I'm enjoying my life. And I'm enjoying serving in other ways. I have been focused on a different kind of campaign to persuade people in this country and around the world that we have to respond to the climate crisis. It is by far the most dangerous crisis our civilization has ever faced.

And in order to solve, it, we have to address these fundamental problems in the way our democracy is operating today.

KING: I want to ask you why the media is failing. We will be right back with more of Al Gore. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": People are talking about you maybe running for president again.

GORE: I have no plans to be a candidate for president again.

I'm not planning to be a candidate again.

I have no intention for running for president again. I have been there, done that.

I'm not planning to be a candidate for office again.

I really don't expect to be a candidate again.

I don't have any plans to be a candidate again. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we talk about the media with Al Gore, the book is "The Assault on Reason." The publisher, by the way, is the Penguin Press. An e-mail question from David in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"Do you feel any degree of loyalty to Bill Clinton with respect to his wife's bid for the presidency that may be precluding you from seeking the office yourself?"

GORE: I feel loyalty to Bill Clinton, but not in that sense at all. No, that has absolutely nothing to do with my thinking about not considering a candidacy.

KING: Are you going to endorse any candidate?

GORE: I don't know. Probably. But I...

KING: In the primary, I mean?

GORE: Yes. Probably, but I don't know. I don't know. I have not made that decision yet.

KING: What's your rap on the media in this "Assault on Reason"?

GORE: Well, I think that all of us are part of the problem and part of the solution. I think that democracy is a conversation and a lot of that conversation is carried by the media. And when television replaced newspapers as the dominant medium -- and television is still completely dominant, notwithstanding the rise and growing strength of the Internet, there were some fundamental changes.

And one of them, Larry, your show is a prominent exception because when you have entertainment-oriented programs, they are sort of clearly indicated as such. But in a lot of the news media, the line between entertainment and news is now very blurred, and a lot of news organizations feel the need to run polls and conduct focus groups the same as politicians now.

And so we get a lot more of Anna Nicole Smith's funeral arrangements and Paris Hilton's legal battles on her jail term than we get about how we can solve the climate crisis and how we can get our troops out of this civil war they are trapped in, in Iraq.

And we have this huge onslaught of trivialities and four-and-a- half hours a day is the average amount of time Americans watch television. And so much of it is just sort of mind-deadening. And you know what I'm talking about. And that line between entertainment and news is really gone now in many cases.

KING: Are you a critic of the FOX News Channel, which some people think is more towards the right?

GORE: Well, yes, but this is not so much about that particular phenomenon. You know, it used to be that newspapers in America had a point of view that was identifiable. KING: On the editorial page.

GORE: No.

KING: Sometimes on the front page.

GORE: Well, in earlier times, it was all oriented towards a point of view. And then it shifted. And television was that way, too. It tried to be objective. But with the advent of cable news, it opened up the opportunity for the kind of approach that you're talking about here.

And I think that there is a difference between serving the public interest standard of facilitating the conversation of democracy. And that's one of the obligations I think that broadcasters ought to recognize.

KING: What is the danger of the Paris Hilton/Anna Nicole Smith coverage kind of thing?

GORE: Well, the danger is that the volume of it excludes serious discussion of the choice that we have to make as a free people. Now a second aspect of this, though, is that television has mainly been in one direction.

And so where the people used to have a greater opportunity to take part in the conversation and talk back in ways where what they said would be heard and listened to, now the act of just sitting motionless in front of the TV set and absorbing all of this stuff, particularly when the majority of it is the Britney and the K-Fed and whether or not Russell Crowe threw a telephone at the hotel concierge, that the ability and the opportunity to participate actively in the processes of self-government are disappearing.

Now the Internet is bringing back new opportunities, and I think that offers new sources of hope.

KING: What about our politicians in all of this? Are they better than your father's day or worse?

GORE: I think that both politicians and journalists are now the best-educated, the best-prepared of any prior generation with the exception of the generation of our founders, which was just an extraordinary collection of individuals that were true geniuses.

But I think that there are among the politicians today a lot of good people trapped in a bad system. And what they find is the necessity to rely on these 30-second television commercials and the manipulative emotion-based messages instead of a reasoned argument.

And when you combine that with the media's emphasis on things like the horserace and how somebody combs his hair or whether some word was used in an awkward way, the net result is that the American people don't have a chance to join the conversation and what they get thrown at them is trivialities and banalities. KING: Coming up in our next segment with Al Gore, we will talk about the current crop of presidential hopefuls. The book is "The Assault on Reason." don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time for a new leader in Washington, D.C.

GORE: I want to fight for the future of the United States of America! Thank you! And God bless you!

BERNARD SHAW, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: George Bush, governor of Texas, will become the 43rd president of the United States.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The vice president has recalled the governor and retracted his concession.

GORE: For the strength of our union as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with Al Gore. The book is "The Assault on Reason." Your thoughts on some of the candidates. And not a 30-second pop, but...

GORE: Well, I'm not comfortable handicapping.

KING: No, I don't want to say who's going to win.

GORE: OK.

KING: No. Clinton, Hillary Clinton.

GORE: She is running a very forceful campaign. She has earned the strong support of her constituents in New York. And it's way early to assess how these candidates are shaping up.

KING: Is she a good candidate?

GORE: Yes, sure. I mean, in many ways, yes.

KING: What do you make of young Senator Obama?

GORE: He is also running a very strong campaign. I think that he is appealing to a lot of people who like the sense that he's talking about issues in a fresh way. And, you know, he has a lot of support.

KING: Isn't he doing what you are saying in the book you want done? Isn't he talking about things that are relevant?

GORE: Well, I think that all of them are addressing the issues, but I think that all of them are good people trapped in a bad system. I used that phrase before because I do think it describes the dilemma that we have. It's not ...

KING: The system forces them?

GORE: Yes. The system forces them to concentrate on these impressionistic approaches that come out of the daily news cycle and the tit-for-tat of what is a hot buzzword issue of the day. And they also have to deal with the media's obsession with the so-called horserace. And they are all trapped in the spin cycle. The idea that all of the coverage is about, what is their motivation for doing this or doing that? What are they thinking about this or that? I think we ought to have a much greater focus on what the actual problems of the country are and how we can solve them.

KING: Senator Edwards?

GORE: Likewise, running a strong campaign. Put out a lot of very thoughtful policy, statements and positions. I think you can see the strength that he's gained from having been around the track last time.

KING: Bad rap that he's rich?

GORE: Well, I think all of these -- well, I don't know that all of them are, and I don't see that's particularly relevant in his case.

KING: On the other side, Senator McCain, whom you have known a long time.

GORE: Yes. He -- look, I'm not really very objective about the Republican candidates because they all sort of pledged allegiance to the general approach that the Bush/Cheney White House has taken. I think that John had this image of being independent and taking a different view. I don't know. I don't think I'm very good at this political analysis. I really don't. But my impression is that he made a decision to really embrace the White House to get over that image of independence and in the process, he lost the image of independence. And that was part of his strength and I'm not saying he can't get it back.

KING: Just two more. Rudy Giuliani.

GORE: Yes, well ...

KING: Mayors don't get elected president or haven't.

GORE: Haven't, yes. I think that there are several candidates this time around on the Republican side that are going to have an interesting dialogue with the base of their party about what their real views are on the issues that are most important as core issues to the base. And he certainly is in that category.

KING: And, finally, Governor Romney.

GORE: I think he's also in that category. And it's not for me to speculate on how the Republican base is going to react to his explanations for how he's changed this and that and the other. And there's a lot of them.

KING: Is Mormonism a fair issue or not a fair issue?

GORE: I do not -- I don't think it's a fair issue. I really don't. I would like to think we are past that. People say, well, this is a special case. I don't think it's a special case. I think that he's entitled to his own beliefs. And incidentally, Larry, in "The Assault on Reason" there is a very long hard-hitting section on this that goes back to our founding fathers, goes back to the debates that we had more than 200 years ago about why religion should be kept out of the way in which our decisions are made.

Except to the extent that individuals, of course, who are motivated by their religious faith, as I am, as so many people are, are going to make that a part of their decisions. But here's the critical distinction. When America was founded, they -- our founders said, OK look, we are not going to pretend that whoever is elected to office has been ordained by the almighty to be the decision maker. The person who is elected is elected by us, the people of this country. And the divine right of kings was rejected by the founders of the United States.

And what replaced that, the divine right of individuals in this sense, we believe that we are all created equal. And that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. So the relationship that our founders believed was appropriate for -- between America and God was their belief that every individual has certain rights and has dignity because that person is a child of God.

Now, for those who don't believe in God, I'm not proselytizing. I'm just telling you what I believe and what our founders believed. But what -- but this has been twisted around in recent times by some people who want to convey the impression that God belongs, if not to a particular political party, that God has a particular political ideology and that those who disagree with a right-wing approach to this or that are against God.

That is an anti-American view. That is completely contrary to the spirit of America. It is an American heresy and people in both parties ought to reject that and fight against it.

KING: Up next, Iraq and the former VP's opinion on how it could be fixed. Stick around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: I'm running to win!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote for Gore. Vote for Gore. He's wise and able and just 44. Prevent war.

GORE: Let me finish now.

However imperfect it was, we all have an obligation to try to make better.

I have never given up. I have never backed down, and I never will.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing? I was just wondering, are you going to run for president or what? Don't leave us in suspense here. Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Question for Al Gore would be, are you officially running in the 2008 election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you running for president this year, Mr. Al Gore?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm wondering if you are going to run for president? We need a good candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al, are you running or what? That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Those are our King cam cameras. They just went out on the streets today, just unsolicited, went up to people, just -- must be flattering.

GORE: That was a random sample? .

KING: Yeah, yeah, it was. No, what? We asked them, should you -- what do you want to say to Al Gore? That's what we asked them. So it should be flattering.

GORE: That is flattering. I appreciate that. And as I said earlier, I'm not inviting that...

KING: It would make me feel good.

GORE: Pardon me?

KING: It would make me feel good.

GORE: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

KING: Email question from Jose in Simi Valley, California. "If you were to become president, how would you tackle the inherited problem of Iraq, which somebody is going to inherit?"

And in that line, a follow-up question from Washington, D.C. What's your question?

CALLER: Hi. I wanted to ask Mr. Gore where he sees Iraq in five years from today.

KING: OK, let's loop them together. Somebody is going to inherit this problem. It ain't going away.

GORE: Well, it -- it's like taking the wheel of a car in the middle of the skid. You have really got to feel where the give is, how to steer out of the skid, how to avoid the crash. And we are headed for a really -- well, we are already in serious trouble -- headed for worse.

There are no easy options. They've created this situation where there really are no good choices. We have to choose the less -- the least worst choice and...

KING: So?

GORE: ... here are the two objectives that we have to pursue simultaneously. Number one, get our troops out of there and home as quickly as possible.

Secondly, do it in a way that honors our nation's moral obligation, which all of us have, regardless of whether we opposed or supported the invasion. We have a moral obligation not to make an already terrible situation even worse in the manner of our leaving.

But there is evidence that in some areas, indeed, the violence could get worse if we precipitously pulled out in the wrong way. But there's evidence in much of the country that the continued presence of the troops is a magnet for violence aimed at them. And the overall continued deterioration of Iraq and the -- what appears to be the real failures of the government in place there create a set of options that are really awful. So...

KING: So what's the less -- what's the -- all right. You're president. How do you get...

GORE: We need to get our troops home as quickly as possible.

KING: In other words, if you were president January 31st, 2009, your first act would be starting withdrawal? You'd start bringing home...

GORE: No, no. As I said before, I would grab hold of the situation and make an immediate assessment of what the best options were to manage this catastrophe.

KING: You don't know what they are. You don't know...

GORE: No, I mean, I know what -- I know generally the families -- we need to get them out of there, as I've said. But we need to make a very clear analysis of how we can get out of there without making it much worse than it is now.

KING: Has the Iraq government disappointed you?

GORE: Oh, sure. KING: You expected more?

GORE: Well, I mean, I don't know that I would say that, because it was put together in the aftermath of a horrible mistake and a botched policy of -- that implemented it.

I use this as an example in the book. Let me make -- use this as an illustration. The general in charge of the United States Army, Eric Shinseki, native to Hawaii, brilliant general, highly respected, said before the invasion, "Mr. President, we need several hundred thousand troops in order for any kind of occupation to have a chance of succeeding."

That view conflicted with what the White House and the secretary of defense wanted to believe. And so, they not only rejected the view, they took actions that, in effect, punished General Shinseki, and had the further effect of chilling or silencing the ability of other military leaders to speak up if their views were contrary to what the political group in the White House and secretary of defense's office wanted.

Now, here's why this illustrates the premise of this book. Our strength as a nation, over more than 200 years, has been that we have tried -- not always successfully -- but we have tried to base decisions on the best evidence available after a full and open debate among people that might have different points of view but shared a common commitment to try to make good decisions on the basis of the facts.

Instead, we have got this "Alice in Wonderland" approach. First, the verdict and then the trial.

When people make up their minds on the basis of ideology and then go forward with the decision ignoring the best facts, ignoring what the advisers and experts, and in this case the generals, are saying is the better approach, then that gets us into trouble.

Same thing they did on the climate crisis. When the scientists say, we've got to cut down on CO2, they actually censored the scientific reports. You know this. And Congressman Henry Waxman had these hearings that showed that it was not only one or two times that have come out, but hundreds of times, they censored.

Now, if the facts are inconvenient, if the truth is unwelcome, and if only ideology and politics drives the outcome, then our country makes the kinds of mistakes that has led to our troops being trapped in a civil war.

KING: You were opposed to Iraq from the get-go?

GORE: Absolutely. Now, I supported the first Persian Gulf War.

KING: In '91?

GORE: Correct. Because it was a completely different situation. But this -- and the facts were available. And every blue ribbon commission and study group that has gone back to look at it, has said, yes, it's obvious. And there's hardly anyone left in the country who doesn't now believe that it was a terrible mistake.

But, Larry, here's the point -- all that evidence that they are looking back on with these study panels was available at the time. And at the time the Senate voted to go into Iraq, 70 percent of the American people actually believed that Saddam Hussein was primarily responsible for flying those planes into the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

And, of course, he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

He was a bad guy, and there may be -- may have been other arguments to take him out -- I felt that the risks far outweighed the expected benefits -- but the fact we based a decision that has resulted in the worst strategic mistake in American history on totally mistaken impressions and information that was known at the time to be wrong. That is not the way the United States of America got to be the greatest country in the world.

KING: Got to get a break. We will be right back with Al Gore. The book is "The Assault on Reason." Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are with Al Gore. We have another King cam question. Our men on the street with cameras. This one is about gas prices. Go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it's a good thing that gas prices are high so that people don't use as much gas?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Uh-huh. Al?

GORE: Don't think it's a good thing that the increases are going to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and the other suppliers of oil. Here is -- I have made what many regard as a radical and politically impractical proposal but I believe in it very deeply, Larry. Here it is what I think we ought to do.

I think we ought to eliminate the taxes on employment, the payroll taxes that discourage jobs and make it up dollar for dollar -- no tax increase, revenue neutral. Eliminate the payroll tax and make it up dollar for dollar with pollution taxes, principally C02 taxes and, yes, that would raise the price of gasoline but it would come back to the American people in the form of sharply reduced taxes on payrolls. And for those places where there was a difficult adjustment, make special provisions there because you would have the money to do it.

KING: Let's grab another call. Green Bay, Wisconsin...

GORE: See, that's considered so impractical, there's no followup.

KING: No, it's pretty practical. Green Bay, hello?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to ask Mr. Vice President what he would do differently. Three things he would do differently than Bush has done.

KING: What was Bush's three things he did you would not absolutely not have done. One, obviously, Iraq.

GORE: I think that he did the right thing in quickly going into Afghanistan to chase down Osama bin Laden after until 9/11. But I would not have withdrawn most of our troops and sent them somewhere else before we caught bin Laden. There are a lot of generals and intelligence officers who have been telling us that he was surrounded at a place called Tora Bora and that he escaped because we lost focus on that mission and withdrew most of the troops to send them to invade a country that never attacked us.

Instead we should have continued pursuing the person who did attack us.

KING: So I think Afghanistan, mistake? Going into Iraq a mistake? What's the third?

GORE: We should not censor the best scientific evidence available on the climate crisis. He should not have violated his pledge during the campaign to regulate and reduce C02 and instead should have an aggressive program to reduce all of this politician. Larry, we are today, putting 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the earth's atmosphere. And that's been building up over time. And the planet now has a fever. The ice is melting. The sea level is rising. The hurricanes are getting stronger. Tropical diseases are moving northward. We are seeing all kinds of catastrophic changes just beginning now, and the scientific community around the world has said to us, you have to act. And has said the political leaders have been ducking this, and many of them evading responsibility for it. We have to change this. That's by far the most important problem that has to be addressed.

KING: Our guest Al Gore. Anderson Cooper standing by. He will host AC 360 at the top of the hour. What's up Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, AC 360 HOST: Hey, Larry a related topic. Hurricane season is coming today. The forecast we got is not good. We'll have the latest numbers of storms expected and whether or not New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast is ready for this season. One billion dollars, that's what's been spent so far just to get New Orleans ready for the next big storm. The question now, is will the levees hold? You will not like the honest. Neither did we. But we are keeping them honest. That's at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper 360, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Speaking of that, the former vice president will talk about New Orleans right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Time goes so fast. Our guest, former Vice President Al Gore. The book, "The Assault on Reason."

We will take a call, we will get another email, a King cam. But we did want to talk -- your thoughts on New Orleans.

GORE: I was back in New Orleans recently, as I have been several times since the Katrina disaster. And the city -- many parts of the city still look the way they did a month after the disaster. And whether -- how you apportion the blame among the city government, the state government, the federal government and all of us -- Larry, it is unacceptable in the United States of America for a major city to be left stranded after a disaster for 21 months. It looks like -- parts of it look like a war zone 21 months later. It is completely unacceptable.

KING: Should Alberto Gonzales resign?

GORE: Not for me to -- look, Senator Specter said over the weekend that he thinks he will resign in order to avoid the unprecedented or unusual, at least, no-confidence vote, when Republican senators as well as Democratic senators are saying that he needs to get out of there.

But, you know, he's been doing what the president has wanted him to do. And, again, some of the examples in "The Assault on Reason" have to do with the fact that a major wiretapping campaign, eavesdropping campaign against American citizens, without warrants as required in the Constitution, was secretly instituted and continued, and there was hardly any outcry. The media did not...

KING: Does the attorney general have to do the bidding of the president? I thought that he's supposed to be...

GORE: Shouldn't, because in the Nixon administration, as you well recall, a principled attorney general resigned rather than make -- take illegal decisions.

But this, you know, the illegal eavesdropping on Americans is not something that should be taken lightly. The fact that it has happened and continues to occur, and the Congress felt intimidated to affirm it and endorse it -- not the current Congress, but the last time they took it up -- I think that's -- I think it's another example of how the rights of individuals have been trampled on.

KING: Let me get another call in from Lexington, Kentucky. Hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Mr. King.

Mr. Gore, given the foreign policy expertise that you have exhibited on Mr. King's show tonight and the expertise that you gave to the administration of President Bill Clinton, would you consider the secretary of state position in a Democratic presidential administration?

GORE: Thank you for your kind words, but, no.

KING: No cabinet position?

GORE: No.

KING: No federal position?

GORE: No. Not because I don't have the greatest respect for what an honor it would be to serve in such a position, but I have -- I have zero interest in doing something like that.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments following this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The winner, former Vice President Al Gore!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al Gore, well-known movie star and producer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice President Al Gore, what issues caused by climate change globally are likely to affect the United States security in the next 10 years?

KING: Al?

GORE: You know, even a one-meter increase, even a three-foot increase in sea level would cause tens of millions of climate refugees.

If Greenland were to break up and slip into the sea or West Antarctica, or half of either and half of both, it would be a 20-feet increase, and that would lead to more than 450 million climate refugees.

The direct impacts on the U.S. have already begun. Today, 49 percent of America is in conditions of drought or near drought. And we have had droughts in the past, but the odds of serious droughts increase when the average temperatures go up, as they have been going up.

We have fires in California, in Florida, in other states, unprecedented fire season last year, directly correlated with higher temperatures, which dry out the soils, dry out the vegetation.

We have a very serious threat of losing enough soil moisture in a hotter world that agriculture here in the United States would be greatly affected. Now, the list is too long to give you here, but look, these issues are more important that Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton, and they are not being talked about.

KING: We have less than a minute. July 7th, your big event.

GORE: Yes, the Live Earth concerts. My friend Kevin Wall and I have been putting these together. It is going to be the biggest concert in the history of the world, the beginning of a multi-year campaign to get us past the tipping point and solve the climate crisis.

July 7th, 24 hours. The concert for a planet -- for a climate in crisis.

KING: Unbelievable, the way you put it together.

Where will you be?

GORE: Haven't decided yet. Don't know yet. They are going to be on all seven continents. The performers, by the way, if you don't have a ticket for this yet, it is going to be the most amazing concert ever.

KING: I'll tell you what we'll do -- the night before, we will have you on wherever you are in the world...

GORE: Great.

KING: ... and we'll get the whole detail of who's coming the next day.

GORE: Deal. Deal.

KING: Our text vote question last night, "should Al Gore run for president?" Get this -- 82 percent of you said yes.

So now based on what you have seen tonight, we're asking you, do you think Al Gore will end up running? Hey, you could have that thought. Don't laugh, Al!

Text vote to the cell phone to CNN TV, which is 26688, text KingA for yes; KingB for no. We will reveal the results on tomorrow night's show. You can also email the questions for our guests by going to cnn.com/larryking.

Are you interested in the results?

GORE: Sure.

KING: OK, because we'll let you know.

Thanks, Al.

GORE: Thank you, Larry.

KING: The book...

GORE: Happy birthday to your daughter.

KING: Son. Cannon.

GORE: Yes, happy birthday to your son, Cannon, today.

KING: Oh, to call him a daughter, that would be -- thank you.

GORE: I knew it was one of them.

KING: Yes, Cannon is 7.

And now we turn things over to someone considerably older than 7, Anderson Cooper -- AC.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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