It wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t mean the crowd were any less frenzied when Al Gore finally stepped on the stage of the Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit Michigan to endorse Barack Obama.

As AP put it, the former vice president’s speech was “part endorsement and part blistering attack on the man who denied him the White House eight years ago.”

“After eight years of incompetence, neglect and failure, we need change,” Gore said. “After eight years when our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need changes.”

The crowd screamed “we need change” (in between booing at mentions of Clinton and McCain) as an energised Gore, displaying more personality in one performance than he did in eight years as Vice President, threw his support behind Obama. Years spent standing on a crane in front of a powerpoint presentation have done wonders for the Nobel Laureat’s public speaking skills. As It’s Getting Hot in Here liveblogged, “Gore looks like he’s got some of his Southern-preacher fire back.” 

“I feel your determination after two terms of the Bush-Cheney administration to change the direction of our country,” Gore said. He accused Bush of countless missteps, including a botched response to Hurricane Katrina, economic problems, foreign policy mistakes and allowing lead-tainted toys and poisoned pet food in from China, which led to this kind of strange line: “Even our dogs and cats have learned that elections matter”.

The rally was a rare political appearance for the popular Gore, who implored Democrats to unify behind Obama and stressed that the next president would almost certainly help shape the make-up of the Supreme Court, reports The New York Times.

Meanwhile Obama stoked Democratic anger over the 2000 outcome when he recognized Gore as “the winner of the popular vote for president.”

“You remember that,” Obama said as the crowd of 20,000 erupted.

Most analysts expect Obama’s share of the Democratic vote to increase as the campaign progresses, and Gore’s moves today should slightly accelerate that process, says LA Times Top of the Ticket blog. “If committed Democrats agree on anything, it’s that the 2000 election was stolen from Gore, and in the years since that has made him a rallying point.”

Gore sent out an email to his supporters and the Obama list on (their time) Monday afternoon to announce his upcoming appearance, and posted this on his blog

Since Obama opened his presidential bid in January 2007, the two have talked frequently, including in a private meeting last fall at Mr Gore’s Nashville home, according to The NY Times ,  Mr Obama said Monday that the former Vice President had been helpful throughout the primaries, lending his ear and his thoughts, but always taking care to stay impartial in the wide Democratic field.

“It means a lot, obviously,” Mr Obama said. “We’ve had ongoing conversations about a whole host of issues, a lot of them have revolved around issues of climate change and energy and the environment. He’s provided good political advice.”

You could feel the crowd leaning in waiting for Obama to announce Gore as his running mate, but if Wonkette is to be believed, it ain’t gonna happen. “Why wouldn’t Al Gore want to be vice president, now? Look at his accomplishments: He invented technology, made Power Points about lowering Earth’s temperatures (for which he won a Peace cash prize), won Oscars, Emmys and other Heroic Awards…

“If someone with that resume was offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be vice president, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t take it. It would be an exciting, new position for Gore — the number two job in America! Surely he’s been dreaming of this opportunity — to be vice president, for eight years possibly! — his entire life.”

  • Blogwatch has the latest on Gore’s endorsement from blogland.
  • And r ead more at the US Media Wrap here.