New York Al Gore is waging a fierce campaign for recognition and an Oscar statuette for his global warming documentary, while reviving talk that he's pursuing a bigger prize: the presidency.
His recent itinerary has been the ultimate in high profile. The former vice president made self-deprecating jokes on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," offered ideas on preserving the environment to Oprah Winfrey and her daytime audience and parried questions on Iraq from Matt Lauer on "The Today Show."
On Saturday, Gore is hosting a network of 1,600 house parties across the country to watch and discuss his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," with the Democrat planning to address the gatherings by satellite hookup. The movie is on the short list of feature-length documentaries being considered for Oscar nominations.
Crisscrossing the country to promote the DVD version of the movie - just in time for holiday gift-giving - Gore insists that he's not planning a return to politics.
"I am not planning to run for president again," Gore said last week, arguing that his focus is raising public awareness about global warming and its dire effects. Then, he added: "I haven't completely ruled it out."
Those words make Gore the 800-pound noncandidate of the Democratic field. The possibility of another presidential bid delights many Democrats still steamed about the disputed 2000 election, in which they argue a few more votes, a state other than Florida and a different Supreme Court could have put Gore, not George W. Bush, in the White House.
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the front-runner, but a polarizing one for some Democrats. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is the electrifying newcomer, but limited in his experience. Gore remains, for many party activists, the Democrat and popular vote-getter done wrong.
"He won the election in 2000 - he just lost the (electoral) count," former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler said. "If I were he, I wouldn't rule out a run. It's an uncertain field, and he's a person who is widely respected."
In many respects, Gore is better positioned for a political comeback than in his previous bids.
He has won fame for "An Inconvenient Truth," the highest-grossing documentary of the year. His outspoken environmentalism and opposition to the Iraq war have drawn raves from many Democrats, who have been frustrated by the caution among some party lawmakers on those issues.
Derided in 2000 for being a wooden know-it-all, the new Gore is funny. He's done humorous turns on "Saturday Night Live" and voiced a disembodied head on the cartoon "Futurama," which is being made into a movie.
Perhaps most important for his future political endeavors, Gore has gotten rich. Thanks to a range of business ventures, including a longtime advisory relationship with Google and a seat on Apple Computer's board of directors, aides say he could spend as much as $50 million of his own money to launch a credible presidential run.