Two weeks after their 40th wedding anniversary, Tipper and Al Gore have announced that they're separating. As a couple, the former Veep and Mrs. Veep were best known for macking on each other whenever cameras were around—especially their infamous mouth-butt at the 2000 Democratic convention —which was meant to convey the candidate's warmth and humanity to boomer voters, but always felt a little thou-protesteth-too-much for our taste. Ever since Al didn't exactly lose the presidency in '00, Tipper's faded into a non-entity, while her husband became an environmental guru, preaching inconvenient truths around the globe, collecting a Nobel Prize, and, perhaps more crucially, winning an Oscar. As a carbon-credit millionaire, he just bought a $8.8 million mansion in Montecito, California, where Oprah, Ellen, and other hyper-rich folk live. In a word: He's gone L.A.
So the questions are inevitable. Tipper tolerated Al's post-election bearded woodsman moment, but could his Californication be the last straw for his Tennessee-native wife? Or is there another, more VF after party-ready woman involved? Did Tipper's cheery, First Amendment-hating conventionalism finally leave Al cold? Were all of those hard, closed-mouth kisses just what they looked like: theater?
And, most importantly (because in the end it's always all about us): If a stinking rich septuagenarian couple with four kids, three grandkids, solid IQ scores, the world's finest couples' counselors at their disposal, and a new pad in the most beautiful place in America can't keep it together, what chance have the rest of us got?