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Watch Spike Jonze's Little-Seen Al Gore Doc

Sexual assault, infidelity allegations spark renewed interest in film made during his 2000 pesidential campaign.

Following the shocking breakup of Al and Tipper Gore, rumor of his affair with Laurie David and the allegations unearthed last week by the National Enquirer in which an Oregon masseuse claimed she was sexually assaulted by Al Gore in his hotel room in 2006, the media interest in the Al Gore and family is suddenly (inconveniently?) at a post-“Truth” high.

It reminded me of a short, virtually unseen documentary Spike Jonze made during Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. Jonze was asked by the Gore camp to shoot a campaign commercial, and wound up spending two days with the Gore family at their home in Carthage, Tennessee, and on vacation in North Carolina.

Just Jonze, a handheld camera and the Gores.

The result is a stunningly intimate, warm portrait of a candidate who many people think ultimately lost the election because of his robotic image.

Jonze’s film was shown at the Democratic National Convention but never broadcast.

Here’s part transcript of an old Q&A with Jonze about the film by Wholpin, a limited-edition DVD that’s sometimes published with the Believer, McSweeney’s literary magazine.

Wholpin: I think that no matter what party you belong to, whether you are Republican, Democrat, anything, you look at the film and you think that this is somebody who is an honorable guy, a good guy, a guy who's obviously a family man and whose family loves him. You get this really complete picture of the guy.

Spike Jonze: Yeah. As I said, I didn't know anything about him and I went in just wanting to know who he is, and by the end of the day I felt that they were a really solid family and I really liked them. I think that Al and Tipper have to be good people and good parents to have created a family that's so solid. They look out for each other, and you can feel it. I mean, it's really obvious when you're around a dysfunctional family and it's also obvious when you're around a really functional family.

Through “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore’s warm side has since been exposed, though given the last few weeks, he’d probably trade to get the robot back.

More from the Jonze Q+A:

Can you tell the story of being asked to make this movie?

Spike Jonze: This campaign manager named Carter Eskew called me up and asked me if I would be interested in coming up with some campaign commercials. I'd never really been involved in politics at all, but I was starting to think about politics more and was wanting to participate. But I had a hard time deciding what kind of commercial to make because I realized, like the rest of the country, I didn't really know who Al Gore was. So I suggested that what I could offer would be to simply go down and get my impressions of Al Gore. And I just went with my video camera by myself, and just tried to gather, in a small unobtrusive way, a sort of video portrait- a day in the life, just to get to know who he is.

I think that no matter what party you belong to, whether you are Republican, Democrat, anything, you look at the film and you think that this is somebody who is an honorable guy, a good guy, a guy who's obviously a family man and whose family loves him. You get this really complete picture of the guy.

Yeah. As I said, I didn't know anything about him and I went in just wanting to know who he is, and by the end of the day I felt that they were a really solid family and I really liked them. I think that Al and Tipper have to be good people and good parents to have created a family that's so solid. They look out for each other, and you can feel it. I mean, it's really obvious when you're around a dysfunctional family and it's also obvious when you're around a really functional family.

So you just spent one day with them? You started in Carthage, Tennessee?

Yeah, I went down there to Tennessee and it was supposed to be just an afternoon. I guess he had liked my movie Being John Malkovich and so from that had… I don't know why he gave me this sort of access. It was very intimate and personal in terms of letting a cameraman into your home, but I guess that after the afternoon, they felt comfortable with me, so they invited me to go on their vacation. They were leaving that day to go to North Carolina, so in the middle of the afternoon the helicopters came and landed in the Tennessee farmhouse and we went to the army base and got on Air Force Two and flew to North Carolina.

Is there any special clearance you need for Air Force Two?

No.

No search, no cavity…

No, I guess the security guys were just like, "Oh, he's with the Vice President." And then we got into North Carolina in time to go swimming in the ocean and it was incredible. It was just supposed to be a few hours but it was this whole day.

Click here to read the full interview.