Family Man Al Gore

You’ve probably seen the news about (and mugshot of) Al Gore’s 24-year-old-son, Al Gore III, who was arrested overnight after police found marijuana and prescription drugs in his Toyota Prius, which was pulled over after it was clocked at about 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway.

This is not the first time Al III has run afoul of the law: He was arrested under similar circumstances in 2003 and completed a substance abuse program and was also charged with reckless driving in North Carolina in 2000 for driving 97 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Given that Al Gore has very intentionally refused to offer a Shermanesque denial of interest in the 2008 White House race, it’s at least worth noting that his son’s troubles have previously affected his political plans. In 1991, as every big name Democrat begged off from the party’s looming presidential contest, Gore passed on a nomination that was probably his for the taking.

From the August 22, 1991 New York Times:

The 43-year-old Senator from Tennessee said he would prefer spending more time with his wife, Tipper, and their four children to undertaking the grueling stretch of campaigning that would have been necessary to win his party's nomination and mount a serious Presidential bid.

"I would like to be President," Mr. Gore said in a statement released from his home in Carthage, Tenn. "But I am also a father, and I feel deeply about my responsibility to my children."

Mr. Gore's son, Albert 3d, now 8, was seriously injured in a hit-and-run automobile accident in Baltimore two years ago. He has since recovered. But Mr. Gore said the accident had "left a deep impression on our family" and had played a role in his decision not to run.

"I didn't feel right about tearing myself away from my family to the extent that is necessary in a Presidential campaign," he said in a telephone interview.

Of course, at the time he declined to run, the ’92 race looked hopeless for the Democrats, and Gore’s decision was seen as a wise move that would preserve his viability for what most assumed would be an open Democratic nomination in 1996. Less than a year later, though, the political environment had shifted, and Gore was only too happy to pursue and accept the Number Two slot on Bill Clinton’s ticket, and to throw himself and his family into the national campaign.