Three quick points:

1) The sizzle and pomp that build around a presidential candidate, which Gore was plunged back into for this one night, remind us yet again of what Gore lost, or had taken from him, eight years ago. It must be about the billionth reminder for Gore. That he has gone on at all in these circumstances, let alone achieved what he has, surpasses my understanding. Of course he let out a little sign of it with his not-fully-joking "take it from me" line about the importance of elections.

2) A very powerful and heartfelt speech on behalf of Obama. But the contrast between his "hot" approach and Obama's cool was a dramatic demonstration of how much political time has passed in eight years.

3) Gore's well-crafted rhetorical sequence of reasons why "elections matter," after the jump, had one off-key element. Supreme Court appointments -- fine. War and peace? Of course. Wounded veterans, yes -- and Katrina, and impending recession, and the mortgage crisis. The environment? We were waiting for Gore to say it. But lead-tainted toys from China, and pet food?? Those items built toward the nice line about even dogs and cats knowing that elections matter. But they're out of scale with the rest of the list. And willing as I am to blame George Bush for just about anything, it's much more of a stretch to connect a mis-managed Mattel factory in Guangdong Province with White House policies than is the case with the other, graver problems Gore mentioned. So, the dog-and-cat line is nice, but the logic behind it can use some work. Peace, prosperity, accountable government, saving the planet -- those should be enough.

The "you know that elections matter" set piece from the speech.

Take it from me, elections matter.

If you think the next appointments to our Supreme Court are important, you know that elections matter.

If you live in the city of New Orleans, you know that elections matter.

If you or a member of your family are serving in the active military, the National Guard or reserve, you know that elections matter.

If you're a wounded veteran, you know that elections matter.

If you lost your job, if you're struggling with your mortgage, you know that elections matter.

If you care about a clean environment, if you want a government that protects you instead of special interests, you know that elections matter.

If you care about food safety, if you like a “T” on your B.L.T., you know that elections matter.

If you bought poisoned, lead-filled toys from China or adulterated medicine made in China, if you bought tainted pet food made in China, you know that elections matter. After the last eight years, even our dogs and cats have learned that elections matter.

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