Al Gore's son busted for drugs in hybrid car

By David Usborne

NEW YORK - The Gores do love their hybrids.

And now we have new evidence of their versatility.

Al Gore III, the 24-year-old son of the former Vice President managed to crank up his Toyota Prius to a paint-stripping 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway yesterday.

Trouble was the police saw him do it.

Even worse, when they pulled the young man over, they smelled marijuana and, on further investigation, found less than a small quantity of the illegal substance inside the car alongside a collection of other medications including Xanax, Vicodin and Adderall.

"He does not have a prescription for any of those drugs," Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Santa Ana Country Sheriff's department confirmed, adding that the younger Gore was being held in jail on bail of US$20,000 ($26,000).

He said Mr Gore's blue Prius had been stopped by a police patrol at 2.15 am on Wednesday.

The incident was a most unwelcome Independence Day surprise to his greener-than-thou father, who may have done more to promote the Prius than even its Japanese makers.

It comes when Gore Sr also finds himself under continuing pressure from supporters to join the 2008 presidential race.

No candidate, however, would welcome family scandals of this ilk, particularly where illegal drugs are concerned.

Another presidential run for Mr Gore - pipped by George Bush in 2000 after the Florida vote-counting fiasco - is considered unlikely at this point by most analysts, however.

More immediately, however, his son's pedal-to-the-metal debacle will be an unwelcome distraction as he attempts to focus on final preparations for this Saturday's series of Live Earth concerts.

Trouble with Al the Third is not an especially new experience for Mr Gore and his wife Tipper, who was the victim of a near-fatal traffic accident in Baltimore in April 1989 when he was only six - a wrenching incident for the family that Mr Gore has often evoked in his past electoral campaigns.

As an adult, however, the younger Gore has had repeated run-ins with the law, both where cars and where drug abuse are concerned.

In 2003, he was charged with marijuana possession in Maryland after police stopped a car he was driving without headlights.

In February the following year, he agreed to go into a substance abuse programme as part of a plea agreement with the courts.

In September 2002, meanwhile, he was arrested by military police under suspicion of driving while drunk close to a military base in Virginia.

His prospects appeared to have brightened in 2005, however, when he graduated successfully from Harvard University and landed a job as an associate publisher of Good Magazine, a start-up in Los Angeles.

While the rest of the country celebrated the 4th of July, the younger Gore languished inside a cell at the Inmate Reception Center in Santa Ana, to the south of Los Angeles.

Officials confirmed he had been officially charged before the bail amount was set.

This weekend's Live Earth concerts were to be a crowning moment for Al Gore Sr, whose campaign to raise awareness of global warming took off with the publication of his book 'An Inconvenient Truth' and the release of the film of the same name in 2005.

Rock stars ranging from Madonna to the Police and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be performing at concerts around the world, including in London, Paris and Paris.

It has been billed at the largest charity concert event ever held.

- INDEPENDENT

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