Despite winning a majority of the popular vote in 2000, Al Gore never really had a chance at the presidency. While his policy points were impeccable, he came across to many Americans -- even his staunchest supporters -- as aloof, eggheady and dangerously boring. Contrast Gore's style with his opponent George W. Bush, whose shocking lack of intellectual acuity was more than compensated by his regular-guy Texas swagger and his clear distaste for nerds from Tennessee.
Before the first presidential debate in October 2000, Gore was widely predicted to cruise to an easy victory against Bush the Younger. But Gore's painful performance during that first debate changed the tenor of the presidential race for good. First of all, Gore kept yammering about his "lockbox" policy for Social Security and Medicare, which became instant fodder for "Saturday Night Live."
And then came the sighs -- clearly audible, exasperated, deeply whiny sighs that hissed from Gore's mouth every time Bush made another of his fact-ish statements. With each sigh, Gore sounded more and more like the "overbearing know-it-all" caricature he was doomed to become [source: Berke]. In the end, the sighs had it, and we had eight years of W.