Al who?

Gore: Any makeover of the vice president should bear some resemblance to the man.

June 18, 1999

IF THE vice presidency were ever worth more than a bucket of warm spit, it should be right now when the nation is surging along on a robust and resilient economy. Add to that the appearance of victory in Kosovo and Al Gore should be a happy man.

Alas, for him, it isn't entirely so. Mr. Gore went home to Carthage, Tenn., Wednesday to say he's running for president amid vexing doubts about his chances.

He starts out trailing both Republican front-runners -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole.

As Candidate Gore, he is said to need more making over than an aging Hollywood star. So many conflicting changes have been asked of him that he might well be running for head contortionist.

Can he be an animated -- or even unstiff -- human being?

Will he be able to run as an independent entity -- adequately separated from his friend and partner, President Clinton?

Can a scholarly, tree-hugging policy wonk ever succeed at the highest level of politics?

Similar questions bedevil every candidate as handlers try to make him or her electable. The question is: When it's all over, will we -- or he -- know the real Al Gore?

There's probably a very good man in there somewhere, so we're hoping the new one bears some resemblance to the old.

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