Gore: Democracy in America has been 'functionally corrupted'
February 6th, 2013
11:12 AM ET

Gore: Democracy in America has been 'functionally corrupted'

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore about democracy in the United States and why he thinks the campaign finance system needs an overhaul.

You feel as though a combination of special interests and money have essentially completely corrupted democracy in America.

Functionally corrupted it, yes. You know, we’re told that corporations are people, that money is speech and that might makes right. And we know all of [these] things are contrary to what the United States of America is all about. But because our elected representatives now have to spend most of their time begging rich people to give them money, begging corporations and special interests to give them money, they spend more time worry about the effect of their actions, votes and speeches on these big donors, some of them anonymous, than the time they should be spending thinking about how to serve the interests of the publics they represent.

And you were in the Senate. So when you are raising all that money, when – it's gotten much worse since you were there – those people are expecting certain lines and regulatory codes, lines in the tax code, correct? They’re not paying $50,000 to have breakfast with a congressman because of his personality.

No, not at all. Some of them still do that, I’m sure. But the request for a quid pro quo has become routinely far more brazen than was the case in the past. Fundraisers are often scheduled by special interests according to the legislative calendar when particular bills come up. The same conversations involve legislation and fundraising. Now there are exceptions. There are many honorable men and women. Don’t get me wrong. But there are good people trapped in a very bad system now.

You’d be for comprehensive campaign financial reform?

Absolutely. It's difficult to accomplish, but when I ran for president – both times I ran for president – my platform included 100 percent public financing for all federal elections. That's a tough thing to accomplish. But we have got to get big money and anonymous donors and special interest out of the catbird seat. They are now driving the political system. The Congress now finds it virtually impossible to pass any kind of reform unless they first get permission from the special interests who are most involved with the issue involved and who finance their campaign. And that’s pitiful.

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Topics: Politics • United States

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Rodney Jack

    after selling current to terrorists, doesn't he realize he is part of the problem??

    February 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      Part of what problem? Is there some problem with Free Market Capitalism? The man sold something he owned to someone who offered to pay him for it. Please explain the problem with this.

      February 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
      • SCBAMA

        Its ok since he is a liberal. If Dick Cheney had done this deal he would have been broght up on treason charges.

        February 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Matt

        SCBAMA is spot-on.

        February 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Grumpster

        How ironic is it that the FOX News where Sean Hannity has been howling about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf wanting “Sharia law” to replace our existing laws is the very same FOX News whose parent company, the Rupert Murdoch controlled News Corporation, has as its second largest shareholder Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal?

        Hey Kettle..you're black.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Know Your History

        No Cheney was just part of a crew that sold arms to Iran. Hmmm... TV station... Arms... TV station... Arms...

        But I guess its ok that Rupert Murdoch is deeply aligned with repulsive rhetoric from a Saudi-based network (Rotana) of which he has a 20% stake.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
      • Miles

        Grumpster: that isn't ironic. One Imam advocating for sharia law in the US has nothing to do with a Saudi Prince stakeholder in News Corp. In other words, being a wealthy businessman in Saudi Arabia is quite different from a religious leader pushing to change a western country's laws to sharia. And, I think you just implied that all Muslims are the same.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        A president is president for all Americans, not just for those donors, who have deep pockets!

        February 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • wisconsin101

      Most of these problems arose from allowing mega companies and mega unions to form, both of which now have so much money that they are calling the shots. I would rather pay the $3+ at tax time and that money gets equally divided to the candidates. Obsoletely no other money involved. The elections have become more about sound bites and attacks instead of informing voters on what and how one would accomplish those desires or ideology.

      February 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
      • Matt

        SCBAMA: Dick Cheney brought up on treason charges? Dont' make me laugh. Dick Cheney got away with so very many blatant violations...I having a really difficult time understanding the point that you are trying to make.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • jeb

      In a hundred years when we are all one, Gore will be hailed a hero for helping the typical knbucklehead to understand that REAL Islam is a based on peace and good will.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Reply
      • LOL

        Wrong. A hundered years from now, Al Gore will be laughed at and riduculed for fooling the minions into believing the man-made global warming hoax, especillay if it leads to the financial ruin of this country. What stupid people.

        February 8, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • YouAreDumb

      Ahhhhaha, typical racist conservatard in the flesh- "Al Jazeera sounds just like Al Qaeda SO IT MUST MEAN THEY ARE TERRORISTS because they are from the Middle East and we all know everyone from the Middle East are terrorists. The War on Terror told me so!"

      February 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Reply
    • Ryan

      Al Jazeera is a news network, not a terrorist organization (i see comment threads still exist so the lowest common denominator can vent hateful garage. Good stuff, America! Keep up the healthy discourse!)

      February 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • Brendan

      Al Jazeera are not terrorists you fool they are an award winning journalistic organization whom the powers that be in the Middle East are not fans of.

      February 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  2. bocknobby

    "But we have got to get big money and anonymous donors and special interest out of the catbird seat."

    No kidding.

    The only it is not corruption is because it is allowed by those who have been corrupted.

    Deal with it. Do something about it or accept that the system is what it is . . . corrupt.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      Does that include union money and money from liberal groups such as the Sierra Club?

      February 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
      • long

        It does. Plus who are these stupid politicians pandering the rich? Don't they know 1 vote from a rich counts the SAME as one vote from anyone else?
        The politicians should pander the poor (and keep them poor forever), illegals' friends and relatives, feminists, etc...and bash the rich and successful!

        February 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  3. steph

    Gore speaks yet another "inconvenient truth".

    February 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • Harry Reid

      Al Gore is full of hot air. ManBearPig is real, I am super cereal guys, super cereal.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
    • Paul

      The same man who violated the law by raising $50,000 from a Buddhist monastery is now complaining that special interest money has corrupted our democratic process?

      February 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
      • Tony

        The argument stands on its own. Either you agree with the argument or not. Which one is it?

        February 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Morgan

    Sure wish Mr. Gore would have been so open about his positions when he ran for president. Would likely have been a much different outcome.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  5. JIm

    This, coming from Al Gore who "earned" $100 million since he left office.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      What does that have to do with America's corrupt political system? Are you saying Gore is using the money he earned to buy politicians, or are you just flapping your lips because you like the sound it makes? Join the discussion, why don't you...

      February 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  6. Interesting

    I find it amusing that the replies seem to be against Gore when Gore is actually saying something that makes sense.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Reply
    • Caser

      And they're all ad hominem, mostly bogus attacks. Nothing about what he's actually saying.

      February 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  7. cnaxw0

    Al Gore is such a Hypocrite! He sold his “Current TV” channel to the Islam government of Qatar which owns Al Jazeera network for $500 million. The new “Terrorist TV” network will reach 40 million American homes.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • JAG

      Do you know Al Jazeer has won awards in journalism excellence and has done a more throrough job of reporting the MiddlewEast than muc h of the Western media. Maybe we would learn something by reading their articles

      February 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
      • cnaxw0

        This may or may not be true. I cannot verify, nor do I care to verify. It is irrelevant to this particular point. He is calling Rich people the cause of corruption and yet, he is rich himself. It is very Hypocritical.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
      • cnaxw0

        By the way, whatever happened to the rule of not allowing foreign governments or corporations from owning American airways enforced through the FCC? Oh, that is right. Al Gore is above the government and ignored that rule.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
      • CTed

        cnaxw0 – No he is calling rich people who date to politicans the problem. The rules need to change. Him being rich is not relevant. He is calling for a limiation on donations including his own. That does not make him a hypocrite at all.

        Next you need to educate yourself on the FCC they don't enforece anyrules about cable. Current TV is not BROADCAST over our airwaves. Just like the FCC can't fine HBO for foul language, they can't enforce their rules on Current TV. You choose what comes into your house on cable. They regulate the airwaves becuase it is a shared resource.

        February 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Harry Reid

      Al Gore is the biggest hypocrite there is. Not only did he sell his American hating TV station to an even bigger American hating TV Network. He also tries to scare the sheeple with his Global Warming nonsense, all the while living in a huge mansion, and flying around the world on a private jet.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Reply
      • cnaxw0

        You are dead-on accurate. Well stated.

        February 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • YouAreDumb

        Yeah, we should get all of our news from America-hating FOX news whose parent company's second biggest shareholder is the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who also has huges stakes in several actual anti-America propaganda news outlets in the Middle East.

        But lets keep denouncing a hugely-reputable news organization such as Al Jazeera.

        February 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • jeb

      In a hundred years when we are all one, Gore will be hailed a hero for helping the typical knbucklehead to understand that REAL Islam is a based on peace and good will...

      February 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
      • cnaxw0

        Oh, you mean, when you force us all of us Christians to become Islamic.

        February 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • lowIQsHere

      What's your point? The Saudis own Fox News. It's called business.

      February 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  8. 94M

    Offer tax breaks to the newspaper, TV and radio networks in exchange for free equal airtime for the top candidates. Take big corporate fundraising out of the picture. Don't allow our elected officials to get jobs with a corporation doing business with the GOV much in the same way that the Department of Defense regulates their people. If the people do not stand up and say enough, nothing will change. Write your elected officials.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  9. johnnyhartman

    Gore said "the Presidency" was TAKEN from him. He's making Republican's pay by becoming richer than they are

    February 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  10. silencedogood20

    The man has no shame. Not only was he involved in scandal over selling influence to the Chinese he just sold out to the enemies of global warming TM because they bought his crappy left-wing news channel for $100 million more than it was worth. I suppose he is speaking from personal experience, but really? Anyone listening to this guy needs their head examined.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • YouAreDumb

      You make absolute zero sense. Where are even getting this nonsense from? The voices in your head? Seek professional help.

      February 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      Your head is in the sand.

      February 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  11. cribbooky

    I actually agree with him 100%. That rarely happens with me and Democrats. I hope that he also pitches the important need for tort reform. 70% of doctors surveyed said they plan to leave the profession in the next decade because of Obamacare. Instead of mandating more insurance premiums, politicians should find a way to get the tort gorilla off of the back of the health care system. Six digit malpractice premiums have a trickle down affect on prices that cannot continue.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  12. Harry Reid

    ManBearPig lives.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  13. Peter Q Wolfe

    Please Mr Gore go for the oval office 2016 because current politicians aren't up to the challenge. I'd have voted for you in 2000, however, I was too young at the time unfortunately. Nobody cares about solidarity in this nation anymore cause of Special Interests groups that play both sides of the fence. Nobody is looking after the hens in the chicken coop anymore and we are being slaughtered by Corporate America's plutocracy. Really and truly this country is on its last legs, so I hope for real hope and change that Hillary had in mind not Obama or anybody else.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  14. gotmercury

    It is possible for a hypocrite to speak the truth. In order to actually correct the situation, however, it is integrity that counts. Al Gore has a limited capacity to bring about change because he lacks the conviction to lead by example.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • YouAreDumb

      Oh Bush did a great job at "leading" alright. Leading us into 2 unpaid-for wars and a crippling recession. That's Bush's and the Republican's legacy right there.

      February 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  15. The Mayor of Medinah

    A true pinko at heart

    February 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  16. ug

    He would know the commie bassturd.

    February 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  17. Michael

    Thank God he lost the 2000 election!!!!!!!

    February 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  18. Peter Q Wolfe

    What the Hell did the Great King Bush Jr do? I don'tcare because he did not in fact do anything to omprove living standards here at all. In fact, middle class stagnation increased under his watch not even under Bill Clinton's watch so what is up with that especially with productivity at all time highs? I wish that Bush and other republicans admit to the American people that they aren't Christian and this isn't a Christian nation for once and all. We hold no ethics nor have any creditability on anything nor is our influence listened to with our massive bloated military to anything anymore. Step aside America, you aren't the only cat in town anymore.

    February 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  19. joebob

    As much as I think that AL is just a big GOMER he is right. Politicians for sale have never been so blatant then they are today – to paraphrase ...Never have so many paid so much to so few –

    February 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  20. long

    Who are these idiot politicians pandering the rich? Don't they know 1 vote from a rich counts the SAME as one vote from anyone else?
    The politicians should pander the poor, illegals' friends and relatives, feminists, etc...and bash the rich and successful!

    February 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • Zach M

      These politicians aren't interested in a single vote. They're interested in their campaign contributions.

      In today's political climate, it is UNBELIEVABLY expensive to run a campaign, particularly at the federal level. It costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000,000 to mount a Presidential campaign, not including the money the PACs spend.

      So as a politician, when wealthy donors (Corporations, Unions, and The Rich) say they're interested in upcoming legislation, they tend to take notice. After all, they know the next election is right around the corner. If you annoy your donors too much, they might pull their funding, which hurts your chances of getting re-elected.

      February 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Reply
      • long

        If I were them, my goal will be get a dollar campaign contribution from 100 people than getting a 100 dollar contribution from one. It's simple logic

        February 7, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  21. Heywood

    So when Al "Manbearpig" Gore took their money it was ok?

    February 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  22. Joseph McCarthy

    Anyone with half a brain already knows that this country is functionally corrupt as the M.I.C. already owns both the White House and 90% of Congress!

    February 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  23. cb

    if any of you knuckleheads actually read al-jeezera online you might realize they give better news coverage of worldwide events that any of the american so-called free press does.

    February 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  24. Bruce Rubin

    Nothin new here

    February 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  25. JAL

    We are lucky to have Fareed on CNN.

    February 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      I agree. Someone at that network has to get into the real issues, and it certainly won't be Piers!

      February 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Reply
  26. zedan

    Fun to learn English for free

    February 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  27. rightospeak

    Well , I should have expected that the enemies of free speech at CNN did not go to the bathroom-they took my comments out because they do not want people to find out the truth. Gore is part of the problem Henry Ford warned us about our country'd destruction.

    February 7, 2013 at 10:05 am | Reply
  28. bola

    Looking For a Job?

    February 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  29. hifly3r

    Everyone complains about too much money in politics, and yet 99% have never made a donation of any kind. They don't want to part with their money, so they tell you what you can and can't do with yours. At $1/person, the 99% should have no problem getting their message out. Look at public radio. Every 6 months they have a painful 2 week fundaraiser. How come all the Progressives that listen won't donate? Of yeah, they just want to tax other people and feel good about themselves.

    February 9, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
  30. DDofAL


    February 14, 2013 at 10:56 am | Reply

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