WASHINGTON – Talk about an inconvenient truth.
Al Gore finally won his place in the Oval Office on Monday – right next to George W. Bush.
Forever linked by the closest presidential race in history, the two men were reunited by, of all things, White House tradition.
Gore was among the 2007 Nobel Prize winners who were invited in for a photo and some chatter with the president; Gore received the recognition for his work on global warming.
The two men stood next to other, sharing uncomfortable grins for photographers and reporters, who were quickly ushered in and out.
“Familiar faces,” the former vice president said of the media. Bush, still smiling, added nothing.
The two also had a 40-minute meeting in the Oval Office, part of Bush’s effort to show some outreach to his longtime rival.
Bush aides said it was private and would not comment.
Gore, trailed by the press as he left the White House very publicly on foot, allowed that he and Bush spent the whole time talking about global warming.
“He was very gracious in setting up the meeting, and it was a very good and substantive conversation,” Gore said. “And that’s all I want to say about it.”
The two have not met privately since then-President-elect Bush paid a visit – short, and not that sweet – to Gore’s residence in December 2000.
That was back when the acrimony was fresh, in a country still in disbelief over an election that seemed never-ending. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court certified Bush’s 537-vote victory margin over Gore in Florida to settle the outcome.
Since then, Gore has not shied away from criticizing Bush; his latest book, “The Assault on Reason,” is a relentless attack on the administration. And the White House’s response when Gore won the Nobel Prize was less than giddy.
Never mind all that.
“I know that this president does not harbor any resentments,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “Never has.”