Gore stands by environmental tome

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The book that critics say made Al Gore green with environmental extremism is being recycled in the midst of his presidential election campaign, and he's not backing down from the views that gave Republicans almost a decade of ammunition.

Indeed, in a new introduction to "Earth in the Balance," Gore tells opponents "let me save you the trouble of reading the entire book" and points them to the pages where he advocates the elimination of the internal combustion engine, bread and butter of the U.S. auto industry, in 25 years.

"It is possible, it needs to be done; it will create jobs, not destroy jobs," writes the vice president and Democratic presidential candidate. "I'm proud that I wrote those words in 1992, and I reaffirm them today."

He says he never proposed getting rid of cars, but the development of new types of cars that won't hurt the environment. Automakers themselves are racing to perfect alternatives to internal combustion, he says.

The Republican National Committee routinely dredges up Gore's thoughts on auto engines when he ventures near Detroit. Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has also taken a few swipes, saying recently that Gore should explain some of the views in the book. Bush admitted he hadn't read it.

"Earth in the Balance," released as Gore was switching from a Senate career to presidential politics as Bill Clinton's running mate, turned into a hot seller and cemented his reputation as an environmentalist with a world view.

In the new foreword, Gore says that his early warnings about global warming have not only held up to scrutiny but were ahead of their time. The vice president later was crucial in negotiating the Kyoto accord on greenhouse gases, but some environmentalists have faulted him and President Bill Clinton for not trying hard enough to get the treaty ratified by the Senate.

"When I wrote this book, terms like 'global warming' and 'greenhouse gases' seemed exotic, unfamiliar and unimportant to the lives of ordinary Americans," Gore says now. "That has changed dramatically - except for those who still want to pretend that no one cares."

Bush opposes the Kyoto treaty.

Publisher Houghton Mifflin said the introduction was the only change in the edition being released this week for Earth Day's 30th anniversary, meaning the ideas that created the most fuss remain in the book.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles Saturday, Gore touted Internet access as an antidote to inner-city woes before collecting millions of dollars for Democrats at a star-studded Beverly Hills dinner with President Clinton - their first joint appearance in more than four months.

Clinton praised Gore as the man who want to succeed him as "the most qualified person in my lifetime, I believe, to seek this job."

Music mogul and Democratic superdonor David Geffen was hosting the event with DreamWorks SKG co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Singers Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow attended, as did Jay Leno actors Kevin Spacey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Smits, Kim Delaney, Rene Russo, Edward James Olmos and Antonio Banderas.

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