Is Politics an Addiction?

Al Gore thinks so, and he's been in rehab for over a decade.

Former US Vice President Al Gore speaks about climate change during the Fourth Annual Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 11, 2013.  (National Journal)

If politics is an addiction, Al Gore is still suffering.

It's been well over a decade since he ran for president, but the former vice president still hasn't managed to kick his political habit.

"I am a recovering politician," he said in an interview with Politico Magazine, "And the longer I avoid a relapse, the more confidence I have that I will not succumb to the temptation to run yet again. But I'm a recovering politician. I'll just leave it at that."

If the answer sounds familiar, that might be because he's been saying it since at least 2002, when he used that language with a crowd in Mexico City.

"I am Al Gore. I use to be the next president of United States of America," he told listeners during a speech focused on free trade at Ibero-American University. "I'm a recovering politician."

In 2006, the rhetoric surfaced again when, after a special screening of An Inconvenient Truth, someone asked him imploringly if he'd run for president again.

"I'm a recovering politician, on Step 9," he said. "Thank you for your sentiment."

That was eight years ago. Fast-forward to 2011, and there's this: "I consider myself a recovering politician." Fast-forward some more, and there's this: "I'm a recovering politician, on about Step 9." (That last quote was from a 2013 event hosted on Capitol Hill by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, and I remember it, perhaps, because I was there.)

If politics is an addiction, Al Gore is still in rehab. And withdrawal, like his talking points, lasts a lifetime.