The formerly popular Al Gore

by Dave Weigel

Ben Smith points to Gallup's new polling on the current vice president and his two predecessors, which finds that Al Gore -- while still more popular than Dick Cheney -- is the only one Americans are growing more sour on.

The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore's image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him.

Two things here. First: Wow, what a victory for the "undernews."* When the news first broke that the Gores were divorcing, the Responsible Media published thoughtful pieces about how the marriage was never going to work anyway. It took the National Enquirer to jumpstart discussion of Gore's alleged assault of masseuse, which jogged the Oregonian into publishing what its reporters knew. (By the way, JournoList fans -- one of the final threads there was about the ridiculousness of the press not covering l'affaire Gore, so there goes the "liberal narrative factory" theory.) No National Enquirer story, no attention for this scandal.

Second: Forty-four percent isn't the worst approval rating for a pol in the year 2010, but if you're an environmentalist, and you've spent two decades waiting for comprehensive energy legislation to pass, how much does it hurt to have your most powerful advocate knocked on the mat (by his own punch) with a few short months left to pass that legislation?

*I'll give the credit for this phrase to Mickey Kaus unless someone else wants to take credit.