It’s kind of funny — no matter how many times Gore and his people issue the exact same bland non-denial denial, journalists keep try to gin up some new hook around which to write about his possible entry into the presidential race. The latest is New York Observer‘s Steve Kornacki, who breathlessly reports "Why Al Gore Won’t Let the Rumors Die.” As though any action is required by Gore or his people to keep the rumors alive.

Kornacki does make some good points about why it’s in Gore’s interest to wait. Gore be testifying before Congress in March, and in July he’ll be overseeing a huge, worldwide series of concerts to raise support for action on global warming. He’s going to receive tons of press coverage, almost all of it flattering. (Nobody knows more about the benefits of bypassing the Beltway political press than Gore.) He doesn’t need to declare he’s running to get attention.

The later he jumps in, the more of a splash he’ll make and the shorter the campaign will be, which is fine, ’cause campaigning’s not really his forte.

I’m on record predicting he won’t run, but I suspect he genuinely hasn’t made up his mind yet. The downsides for him are enormous — he’s riding a wave of new popularity, making huge progress on the issue he cares most about, and spends his days talking to the most interesting people on the planet. To enter the campaign would mean drudgery, fundraising, hostile press, relentless character attacks, and a possible loss, putting him on the record books as a two-time loser and squandering his new-found stature.

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In the end, circumstances will make the difference. If grassroots support builds, Hillary appears weaker and more beatable than people think, Obama’s halo wears off, the Iraq situation continues to go down the toilet, and the political profile of climate change rises even further, well … it’s gotta be tempting.

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