One of the big winners at this year's Academy Awards in Hollywood was former Vice President Al Gore. Gore was featured in a film about global warming called "An Inconvenient Truth," which won the Oscar for best documentary. Now some Democrats are wondering if Gore should seize the public spotlight in the wake of his Oscar win and enter the race for president in 2008. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
In a show more known for Hollywood glitz, Al Gore appeared at the microphone in the middle of the Academy Awards to make what appeared to be an important political announcement.
"Even though I honestly had not planned on doing this, I guess with a billion people watching, it is as good a time as any. So, my fellow Americans, I am going to take this opportunity right here and now to formally announce?" he joked.
Gore did not announce he was running for president, and the audience enjoyed the joke from a man who has been criticized in the past for being too serious and wooden on the campaign trail.
But some Democrats who are urging Gore to run for president wish he would seize the public attention from his Oscar win to join the Democratic field for the White House next year.
Former President Jimmy Carter told ABC television that Al Gore is his favorite Democrat and that he has been urging Gore to run for months.
"I think he should," Carter said. "His burning issue now is global warming and preventing it. He can do infinitely more to accomplish that goal as the incumbent in the White House than he can even making movies that get Oscars. So I would hope he would, but I don't think he will."
Gore indicates he is not running, but analysts note he has not completely closed the door to a presidential bid in 2008.
Gore was asked about his political plans in an interview with ABC shortly after the Oscar broadcast.
"I was happy to go along with their humor on that," he said. "I do not have plans to run for president again, but I am involved in a campaign of a different kind, to try to convince people in this country and around the world to feel the urgency of the climate crisis."
Many political experts find the prospect of a Gore candidacy intriguing but unrealistic.
"I think it is unlikely," said Stuart Rothenberg, who publishes an independent political newsletter in Washington. "It is not that he does not want to be president or be the Democratic nominee. I think he does not want to work for it. He does not want to spend the next year campaigning for the nomination. In a different period, it would be handed to him on silver platter. But there are a bunch of candidates out there who are working very hard for the nomination and I think you have to go for it if you expect to get it."
Part of the problem for Gore if he wanted to jump into the race is that the 2008 presidential election cycle seems to be heating up far earlier than expected.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards, along with several other Democrats, are already campaigning hard for the nomination and raising millions of dollars, 11 months before the first votes will be cast.
Republican presidential contenders have also been active early, in large part because neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney are running next year.
University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato says this lack of an heir apparent for the White House is a prime reason for the extra early start to the campaign.
"It is a free for all," he said." It is the first election since 1928 with no incumbent president or vice president running in either party. And as a result, it is an open race on both sides and we are going to see large fields."
Public opinion polls show Gore would trail Senators Clinton and Obama if he got into the race now. But analysts say Gore might draw support from Democratic activists because of his early opposition to the war in Iraq and because of his narrow election loss to George Bush in 2000 when he won the popular vote but lost the state by state electoral vote count that determines who wins the presidency.