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Here Today; Tomorrow...?

November 25, 2001

Welcome to L.A., Mr. Vice, uh, Chairman. Former Vice President, former presidential candidate, former Sen., former Rep. Al Gore is one of the newest successful job-seekers in Southern California. He just became vice chairman of Metropolitan West Financial Inc., a 10-year-old, privately held investment firm here.

Actually, Gore won't live in Los Angeles. He's keeping his Washington, D.C., house. And he's keeping his other 2.5 jobs as a teacher at Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State University and as UCLA research professor on family issues. And there's the book he's writing with Tipper. And his continued speaking and political fund-raising for Democratic candidates including, who knows, maybe himself again someday.

Metropolitan West did not reveal the salary it'll pay for the Tennessean's temp work. Surely not chump change. He brings a vast array of affluent U.S. and foreign political contacts to the firm, where he, in turn, will make affluent contacts and find himself getting paid to visit the state with the most electoral votes.

Gore didn't invent the strategy of vice presidents parking a political career temporarily in lucrative private business; Richard Nixon, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale in modern times accepted substantial private paychecks while schmoozing clients, writing books, speaking, fund-raising and biding their political time. Nixon was the only loser to win later.

Gore's pals, off the record not for attribution but please use it, quickly explained that this new line of work shouldn't preclude future political efforts. While it adds a private-sector check to his government resume, the new work also keeps Gore's options open, providing ample time for stops in such noted finance meccas as Iowa and New Hampshire where the early care and feeding of political investors is time-consuming.

Overt presidential campaigning has been postponed by the terrorist attacks and ensuing war. But a year ago today they were fighting over chads and dimples in Florida. And that means less than 24 months until the job interviews start for the 2004 election.

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