He's getting quite creative, this coy former vice president of ours. When asked if he's running for president in 2008, Al Gore devises every possible answer to throw his questioners off the trail: "I have no intention of running." "I have no plans to be a candidate for president again." "I don't expect to run." "I can't imagine any circumstances in which I would become a candidate again." "Politics is behind me." Every answer, that is, except the one that has any meaning: "If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve." That was the unequivocal answer famously given by Civil War-era general William Tecumseh Sherman when asked about his presidential aspirations upon retiring from the Army in 1884. Sherman, unlike Gore, left no doubt of his "intention."

"I haven't made a so-called Sherman statement, because it just seems unnecessary, kind of odd to do that....but that's not an effort to hold the door open. It's more the internal shifting of gears," said Gore in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"I've found other ways to serve. I'm enjoying them," he said, referring to his work educating Americans on the harmful effects and dangers of global warming. His film, "An Inconvenient Truth," opened to strong reviews last week.

So what is it about Al Gore exactly that's causing him to do this utterly non-convincing little dance with the media? I'm a huge Gore supporter, as readers of this blog know, and I hope for the sake of the country, which needs him badly, that he does make a run for it. He was born to run for president, and he knows damn well that '08 presents him with the chance of a lifetime (after, of course, that other chance of a lifetime he had back in 2000). He's got the experience, the popular positions, the network and the bucks to make a successful run. And he's a changed man who, according to friends and colleagues, and even many Republicans, has shed his stiff wonkish skin and found his true inner voice.

But if Gore truly has no plans to run, he should be a mensch and issue his Sherman statement. Period. No ifs, ands or buts. In the absence of that unequivocal denial however, every time he states he has no intention of running, take that to assume he does.