Al Gore Almost Ruined Twitter

Amid the self-aggrandizing and back-stabbery revealed in yesterday's Nick Bilton excerpt, one subtler piece of strange Twitter history: Al Gore wanted to buy it for the worst reason.

Since leaving the Vice President's Residence in 2001, Gore has been one of the most sloppily conflicted backers in technology: he simultaneously sat on the board of Apple and served as formal adviser to mega-rival Google—all while working as a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, one of the most storied VC firms around.

So when we learned this yesterday:

Al Gore pitched [Ev] Williams and [Biz] Stone one night over copious amounts of wine and Patron tequila at his St. Regis suite in San Francisco.

Jeff Bercovici of Forbes made a very good point:

On whose behalf was Gore pouring all that wine and tequila that night? It could have been one of several parties, given the dense web of tech-industry allegiances Gore has woven for himself since entering the private sector in 2001.

Bercovici reports that despite the many hands feeding Gore as a private sector dilettante, he was sipping Patron in his hotel slippers on behalf of his own company. Gore hoped to merge Twitter entirely with Current TV, his disastrous cable news experiment:

“It was an idea for Current to merge with Twitter,” [former Current TV partner Joel Hyatt] says. “Al helped me to pitch the idea to Ev and Biz. I just thought it was a great idea.”

Given that a "merger" between Twitter and a TV network makes zero sense conceptually, but that Current was doomed, it's hard to imagine a scenario with that deal going through and it not completely destroying Twitter in the process. Current TV could have had just as much luck merging with Nokia or Arby's.

When you consider, too, that "just a few months before all this, Gore and Joel Hyatt, his partner in Current TV, had attempted to sell the network to Google," you see Twitter really dodged a bullet. Not even Al Gore wanted Al Gore's TV network—just think how far from profitable Twitter would be if it were shouldering that media dud atop everything else.