It was a baby boom ticket that basked in its own youth and exuberance throughout the campaign. Jogging together or tossing a football on airport tarmacs, Bill Clinton and Al Gore seldom missed an opportunity to show that they represented the arrival of a new generation of political leaders with fresh ideas. Gore, 44, has been among the most active U.S. politicians on environmental issues, and when the Tennessee senator shared the victory podium with Clinton in Little Rock, Ark., last week, his presence was a sign that green issues were about to receive unprecedented prominence in Washington policy-making. “We are hopeful,” said Peter Bahouth, a spokesman for Greenpeace. “On a very broad range of environmental issues, Gore has been the most solid senator in the country.”
Gore’s ascendancy to the vice-presidency was also welcomed by Canadian environmentalists, who have watched Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s sometimes frustrating struggle to wring concessions on such crossborder issues as acid rain from past Republican administrations. Environmentalists from many nations have expressed admiration for Gore’s voting record in Congress. He supported the 1990 U.S. Clean Air Act, which led to the landmark acid rain accord signed by Canada and the United States last year. And he secured passage of a bill to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. “Gore was way ahead of his time,” said Charles McMillan, a former adviser to Mulroney who heard the senator speak to a Halifax conference on science and technology in 1989. “He linked technology to the environment and to health issues.”
The son of Albert Gore Sr., who spent 31 years in the House and Senate, the younger Gore is a Harvard-educated Vietnam veteran and journalist who first ran for the House of Representatives in 1976—the start of a 16year career in Congress. Aided by his wife, Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” Gore, who later led a controversial crusade against sex and violence in rock music and videos, he won election to the Senate in 1984. From there, Gore launched an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1988. The senator says that a 1989 car accident in which his young son, Albert, was nearly killed, made him reassess his life and values: he began writing a book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, which became a best-seller after its publication earlier this year.
But the Republicans took dead aim at Gore’s convictions during the campaign. President
George Bush derided him as “Ozone Man” during the final days before Nov. 3, and portrayed him as a politician whose environmental extremism would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs. Gore dismissed the attack as an insult to Americans, adding: “If I was forced to run on George Bush’s environmental record, I might be tempted to stoop to name-calling, too.”
But environmental causes also have the potential to strain the relationship between Gore and Clinton, who emerged from the campaign as close friends. Clinton will be under tremendous pressure á to create jobs quickly, which may z lead him to put major environmen1 tal initiatives on hold. In the past, “ the Arkansas governor has shown a willingness to put job creation ahead of conservation. Critics allege that Clinton ignored the threat of contamination to his state’s streams and groundwater caused, they say, by waste from Arkansas’s burgeoning poultry industry.
Clinton has vowed that, as president, he would strike a balance between economic growth and environmental concerns—a pledge underscored by his selection of Gore as running mate. And last week, the president-elect’s advisers said that he will appoint a high-powered “green team” to cabinet positions, allowing them to steer U.S. policies away from rampant energy consumption and exploitation of natural resources. That signals a change in direction that promised a breath of fresh air—on both sides of the border.
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