A few die-hard Democratic pundits think that Al Gore could be the party's nominee for president next year. After all, they say, his film, "An Inconvenient Truth," is up for an Academy Award (Best Documentary) [the documentary won the covetted golden idol], and he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He "has put climate change on the agenda" and "made a difference," according to the Norwegian parliamentarian who proposed him.
In spite of such accomplishments, there's something about Gore that invites – no, demands – ridicule and parody. Who can forget the hilarious send-ups of Mr. Gore on "Saturday Night Live," for example, during the 2000 presidential campaign – the pompous, preachy, prissy prattling about the need for a "lockbox" to protect the Social Security trust fund.
Maybe I can offer an explanation. On the basis of his actions and writings over many years, my guess is that Gore suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. The criteria for this diagnosis, as described in the psychiatrist's bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, include a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," as indicated by the following:•"A grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)."Mr. Gore regularly demonstrates his grandiosity. Who can forget his notorious claim that he had been instrumental in creating the Internet? But far more serious and complex are Mr. Gore's delusions about issues of technology and environmentalism, such as his repeated endorsement of anti-technology tracts and criticism of technological advances while a congressman, senator and vice president. His writings generally place science and technology at odds with "the natural world" and by inference, with the well-being and progress of mankind. More on this below.•"Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; believes that he or she is 'special' and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)."These sorts of fantasies run riot in Gore's book "Earth in the Balance," in which he assumes that he, alone, has divined the solutions to the world's problems and the bold and dramatic measures that await the education and enlightenment of the public. When he was vice president, Gore and his staff of true believers attempted to purge the federal government of any dissension or challenge to his view of policy, in a way reminiscent of the worst paranoid excesses of the Nixon administration. Vexed by people who weren't sufficiently "special," Gore simply got rid of them.•"Requires excessive admiration."With the exception of the past six years, a politician for virtually his entire adult life who surrounded himself with sycophants – need one say more?•"Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others ... shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes."While a senator, Gore was notorious for his rudeness and insolence during hearings. A favorite trick – which I experienced first-hand – was to pose a question, and as the witness began to answer, Gore would begin a whispered conversation with another committee member or a staffer. If the witness paused in order that the senator not miss the response, Gore would instruct him to continue, then resume his private conversation, leaving no ambiguity: Not only is your testimony unimportant, I won't even pay you the courtesy of pretending to listen to it. Gore once accused his political enemies of possessing "an extra chromosome," a remark that infuriated the families of persons with Down syndrome, which is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome.
Gore's patronizing, apocalyptic, and overwrought "Earth in the Balance" provides numerous illustrations of many of these diagnostic criteria, and thereby offers disturbing insights into its disturbed author. In it, Gore trashes the empirical nature of science for disconnecting man from nature. "But for the separation of science and religion," he laments, "we might not be pumping so much gaseous chemical waste into the atmosphere and threatening the destruction of the Earth's climate balance."
Well, but for the separation of science and religion, we would still be burdened with the notion that the sun and the planets revolve around the Earth. It is with good reason that historians call the previous epoch when religion dominated science the Dark Ages.
It gets worse. Throughout the book, Gore employs the metaphor that those who believe in technological advances are as sinister, and polluters are as evil, as the perpetrators of the World War II Holocaust. He accuses Americans of being dysfunctional because we've developed "an apparent obsession with inauthentic substitutes for direct experience with real life," such as "Astroturf, air conditioning and fluorescent lights ... Walkman and Watchman, entertainment cocoons, frozen food for the microwave oven," and so on. Makes you wonder why he bothered to create the Internet.
People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder are tough to be around. They make terrible bosses, unbearable in-laws and insufferable neighbors. That's why I don't want Al Gore to be president – or to live next door to me.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.