Tuesday in the Washington Post :

Bush Meets Al Gore: Effect On Permafrost Unknown

"It must be the season. President Bush tried yesterday to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And he tried to make peace with Al Gore.

"For the first time since Bush moved into the house Gore coveted, the two adversaries from the tumultuous 2000 presidential election sat down to talk."

"The official purpose of the historic summit was not the Middle East peace conference Bush is also hosting this week but the normally more prosaic photo op the White House typically schedules each year with the latest American winners of the Nobel Prize."

This particular Post story by Peter Baker (in full here) represents a plethora of semi-serious reporting this week noting the Bush-Gore meeting in the Oval Office.

How would the President respond to Al Gore? Would this be an uncomfortable moment? Would the President look nervous? Or make a scene?

No. In fact, the president went the extra mile.

Baker: "[he] decided to go a step beyond duty by meeting with Gore in the Oval Office for 40 minutes before the formal picture-taking. [T]he two reportedly talked about global warming...."

Does this tell us anything about President Bush?

Let Al Gore tell it:

"He was very gracious in setting up the meeting and it was a very good and substantive conversation."

The former-veep is not that spot-on correct very often--but he is exactly right in this particular characterization of events.

Is this a surprise (Bush's behavior, I mean)?

Hardly. We hear constantly that the President is dense, bull-headed, and Manichean in outlook. Gore himself often calls the Bushies "Mayberry Machiavellians," and the list goes on--but there are never any stories about Bush as petulant. No one ever asserts that he is ever anything less than gracious in his personal affairs--even when he has a right to take some revenge.

Peter Baker puts it mildly: "Gore has evolved into one of the [P]resident's toughest critics, condemning the war in Iraq, warrantless surveillance, harsh interrogations and other policies of an administration his team believes was illegitimately installed by the Supreme Court."

Baker should have thrown in a few choice adjectives to better describe the level and volume of Gore's withering criticism--but you get the point.

How has the President responded to the myriad Gore calumnies? He has not. It would be beneath the office. No one can contest his record for executing the duties of his office with great respect and dignity. This meeting is just another example of that pattern of behavior.