Jimmy Carter Parties With Matt and Meredith Over Gore's Nobel Glory

To celebrate Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize a jovial Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira called up Jimmy Carter on this morning's "Today" show. During the interview with the former President, the "Today" co-hosts even prodded Carter to push for a Gore in '08 candidacy:

Matt Lauer: "Let me just go over what you said a second ago, and you also said in The Denver Post this morning. You said, 'I have confidence in and I know him well. He,' quote, 'is the best qualified person in America to be president.' And you said you would endorse him. Do you plan on giving him a call? And, and if you think he is the best qualified person in America what does that say about the other Democratic candidates who are running?"

Jimmy Carter: "Well they are all well-qualified, certainly more than their, their opponents across the aisle. But I've called Al Gore and urged him to run for president so many times, he finally told me the last time, 'President Carter please do not call me-'"

[Vieira and Lauer break into laughter]

Vieira: "But, but, apparently I, I wonder if you're gonna listen to him, though, Mr. President."

Lauer: "Maybe he it was-"

Carter: "I can, at least, do it indirectly through the news media."

Lauer: "Maybe it was the fact you called him direct, former President. You gotta stop that."

Vieira: "Yeah, but consider it done. We'll pass along his message, the message."

Amusingly the former President, during his praise of Gore, inadvertently noted the former Vice President had won an Oscar for his "acting ability." Given the veracity of the facts in Gore's so-called documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Carter's slip seemed rather fitting.

The following is the full transcript of the segment as it occurred at the top of the 8am half-hour of the October 12, "Today" show:

Matt Lauer: "Let's begin this half-hour, though, with the breaking news out of Oslo this morning, that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Former President Jimmy Carter won it, himself, back in 2002. He's out with a new book called, Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease and Building Hope and he joins us now by phone. President Carter, good morning, nice to talk to you."

Jimmy Carter: "It's nice to talk to you all and I'm delighted at the news."

Lauer: "Yeah, yeah you're a member of this exclusive club, which has now been joined by Al Gore. So what are you thoughts on him winning the Nobel prize?"

Carter: "Well I don't think anyone could possibly deserve it more. I don't, I, he's recognized nationwi-, world, in fact, worldwide, as the preeminent voice for protecting the environment at a time when many leaders are not putting this at the forefront of the world's consciousness and I'm delighted that Al Gore has won it and my own personal hope is that this might lead him to consider another political event."

Meredith Vieira: "Well Mr. President there is, there's a lot of buzz about that. Do you think that having this, this Nobel prize translates into political clout?"

Carter: "Well he already has political clout. There's no doubt that he won the election, by votes in 2000, and he's always been my favorite Democrat to come back. I think he's the best qualified person to be President."

Vieira: "But does it help him?"

Carter: "I'm sorry?"

Vieira: "But does it help him, to also have the prize now?"

Carter: "Well, you know, that, I didn't understand your question."

Vieira: "Does it help him to have the Nobel Peace Prize? Is it, is, does it add to that clout?"

Carter: "Well I think so. You know he's won an Oscar for his acting ability. His forcefulness in presenting this very important issue to the American people and to the world and I think this adds another element of luster to his deserved fame."

Lauer: "Let me just go over what you said a second ago, and you also said in The Denver Post this morning. You said, ‘I have confidence in and I know him well. He,' quote,'is the best qualified person in America to be president.' And you said you would endorse him. Do you plan on giving him a call? And, and if you think he is the best qualified person in America what does that say about the other Democratic candidates who are running."

Carter: "Well they are all well-qualified, certainly more than their, their opponents across the aisle. But I've called Al Gore and urged him to run for president so many times, he finally told me the last time, ‘President Carter please do not call me-‘"

[Vieira and Lauer break into laughter]

Vieira: "But, but, apparently I, I wonder if you're gonna listen to him, though, Mr. President."

Lauer: "Maybe he it was-"

Carter: "I can, at least, do it indirectly through the news media."

Lauer: "Maybe it was the fact you called him direct, former President. You gotta stop that."

Vieira: "Yeah, but consider it done. We'll pass along his message, the message."

Carter: "Well please do. Well I congratulate him and all those associated with him because he's brought a much needed message to the entire world and he's been a glorious champion for the environment, long before he became famous with his recent movie and all."

Lauer: "Alright, former President Jimmy Carter. President Carter, nice to talk to you, thanks very much."

Vieira: "Thank you."

Carter: "It's a pleasure, thank you. Bye-bye."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.