Gore talks tech, re-invention

Innovative Government Forum

Myth has it that Al Gore once claimed he invented the Internet. But regardless of whether he was its architect, the former vice president was back, talking about technology's evolution and critical role in government at a conference in Sacramento, Calif., Aug. 26.

Gore gave a keynote speech — which was closed to the press — at the Innovative Government Forum for federal, state and local technology and government officials.

"Al Gore started out with some jokes, obviously about the 2000 election and some of his time as vice president," said Bob Mulholland, campaign adviser to the California Democratic Party, who attended the speech. "But it really was about technology and how it rapidly is changing. And he made references to America, 100, 150 years ago about the Pony Express and that stuff and how it would take months to get information. Now of course that stuff happens instantaneously."

Chuck Hansen, president and chief executive officer of the company that sponsored the event — Hansen Information Technologies — said Gore, who had been vacationing with his family in Puget Sound before coming to Sacramento, appeared "warm" and "relaxed" and was "self-deprecating."

Gore didn't give any hint whether he was running for president in 2004, Hansen said, adding that Gore was in his element.

"This was an area he was born into," Hansen said. "He knows this landscape very well. He's been associated with the Internet for a long time. In fact some of his humor was about the Internet and re-inventing government, trying to make government more efficient and even some of the issues with homeland security too."

Gore's speaking contract prohibited attendance by news media — "very routine" arrangement, Hansen said, adding that his company was also asked not to disclose the speaking fee. Gore himself is a former journalist.

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