Tallahassee Mayor John Marks stood to introduce himself and Gore said dryly, "I spent a lot of time there."

Marks: "I wasn’t mayor then!"

He asked Gore how to influence Congress to adopt Kyoto. Gore’s answer was, I think, fairly savvy. In essence, he said that the Kyoto "brand" is tarnished, probably beyond rehabilitation, and efforts are better directed at getting a strong successor to Kyoto in 2009 — whatever it’s called.

He drew a comparison to nuclear nonproliferation agreements. Jimmy Carter pushed them hard, in the context of an administration seen as bumbling on foreign policy (that’s my gloss, not Gore’s), and ended up cementing resistance to them.

When conservative Republican Ronald Reagan got in office, he saw that the arms race was breaking the bank and that nonproliferation was in fact a smart play. So he rebranded the treaty — from SALT to START — and built support from the ground up, on both sides of the aisle.

That, says Gore, is what mayors can help do on climate: build support for the next step, so that the next president — "who takes power, I believe, on Jan. 20, 2009, at about noon — can act quickly.