History surely will note how Al Gore, the vanquished presidential candidate, devoted his life most usefully in public service, but not George W. Bush, the victor in 2000 with ready-made presidential power and prestige.
Instead of dedicating his years to big-bucks speeches, Gore ignored his loss of the presidency to become an extraordinary influence triggering world alarm about environmental destruction.
Gore's triumph in winning the Nobel Peace Prize (and a movie Oscar) is dismissed in predictably vindictive political circles as a cheap slap at President Bush by a claque of liberal, effete internationalists.
The riposte to that, naturally, is: What has President Bush done at all for the environment and what can he show for his nearly eight years as president and the power vested in that supreme office?
Famously, he took the United States into war on the back of lies. The costs of nearly $750 billion are but a down payment on the ultimate bill for rebuilding a shattered Iraq, supporting tens of thousands of maimed soldiers and their families for life, sickening new historic debt, and a momentous loss of U.S. integrity worldwide.
Beyond war, the Bush legacy is just as bleak and barren.
Throughout the Bush bureaucracy of wildlife, environmental and health agencies, the order came down to favor industry and business, not the public or environment.
The Bush presidency's "faith-based" philosophy, wherein he claimed moral guidance from a higher spiritual power, was a sham. Systematic, irreligious lying and deception were the orders of the day.
"Compassion" was reserved for photo-ops. The Bush White House has yet to fully fulfill promises to families ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Torture of Iraq war detainees was an unspeakable violation of humane and Geneva Convention standards, surely not compassion. Vetoing a children's health care bill is "compassion"?
And the Bush administration's highly touted managerial business acumen wiped out billions of dollars of Treasury surplus while driving up catastrophic debt.
Like his wasted party-boy years leading to the presidency, George W. Bush wasted away his White House years on folly and abuse of the public trust that invited shame and disgrace.
He could've declared war on disease. He could've declared war on environmental abuses. He could've spent billions modernizing crumbling American infrastructure. He could've elevated diplomacy to influential new heights to resolve disputes rather than resorting to arms.
And in the process perhaps have won a Nobel.
But he didn't. Bush the presidential winner is known the world over as a human loser.
Al Gore, the political loser, ultimately was the world-class winner.