In 1999, Al Gore, then U.S. vice president and a Democratic candidate for president, sold $6,000 worth of cows.
The former senator, who spent most of his working life in Congress, had a net worth of about $1.7 million and assets that included pasture rents from a family farm and royalties from a zinc mine, remnants of his rural roots in Carthage, Tennessee. Funds from the cattle sale went to three of his kids, according to federal disclosure forms filed as part of his presidential run.
Fourteen years later, he made an estimated $100 million in a single month. In January, the Current TV network, which he helped to start in 2004, was sold to Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Satellite Network for about $500 million. After debt, he grossed an estimated $70 million for his 20 percent stake, according to people familiar with the transaction.
Two weeks later, Gore exercised options, at $7.48 a share, on 59,000 shares of Apple Inc. stock that he’d been granted for serving on the Cupertino, California-based company’s board since 2003. On paper, it was about a $30 million payday based on the company’s share price on the day he claimed the options.
That’s a pretty good January for a guy who couldn’t yet call himself a multimillionaire when he briefly slipped from public life after his bitterly contested presidential election loss to George W. Bush in late 2000, based on 1999 and 2000 disclosure forms.
Gore isn’t finished exercising his Apple stock grants. Those 59,000 are part of 101,358 Apple options and shares of restricted stock Gore has amassed, according to company filings, giving his total holdings a gross value of more than $45.6 million today.
Albert Arnold Gore Jr., 65, is a lot of things to a lot of people. Among friends and fans, he’s the progressive Democrat who should have been president, visionary author and Internet prophet, the man who more than anyone drove climate change to the center of public consciousness.
Detractors see Gore as a limousine liberal, tiresome pedant and climate alarmist who lives a jet-setting, carbon-profligate lifestyle while preaching asceticism for everyone else.
His work and writing on global warming have earned him a share of a Nobel Prize as well as a South Park cartoon parody in which he tries to scare school kids to his beliefs with a fictitious global-warming surrogate monster known as ManBearPig.