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The Vice President has studied the record of previous Vice Presidents to figure out a few keys to success. The first is not leaking disagreements with the boss. Gore has also shouldered thankless but meaty tasks that give him something to attend to besides foreign funerals: reinventing government, overhauling telecommunications law, smoothing relations with Moscow. But part of his sway in the White House flows from being not just an inside guy. His book Earth in the Balance, linking family and ecological dysfunction, sold more than 500,000 copies. He has independent stature because of his decades of patient work on arms control, TV violence, putting computers in classrooms.
He also has electricity that comes from his own presidential prospects. Gore, 48, brushes aside questions about 2000 by pointing to the Scripture hanging on his wall: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Says he: "The future will take care of itself." But after one or two terms as best supporting actor, the ultimate promotion beckons. When Bob Dole announced he would quit the Senate, Gore was standing outside the Oval Office with chief of staff Leon Panetta, who said he thought Dole's move didn't make sense. "That's like President Clinton resigning to run for President," Panetta said. And the deadpan Gore just pulled on his chin and said, "Hmmmm."
E.O. WILSON Biologist
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." The biblical proverb augured the work of E.O. Wilson, the pre-eminent biological theorist of the late 20th century who has explored the workings of the cosmos from the altitude of anthills. Wilson, 67, has used the study of minute creatures as a springboard for two crucial ideas. The first, expounded in 1967 in The Theory of Island Biogeography, which he wrote with the late ecologist Robert MacArthur, provides the scientific bedrock for understanding the decline of ecosystems. The second concept, laid out in his 1975 book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, argues that social behaviors ranging from warfare to altruism have a genetic component. Cornell biologist Thomas Eisner describes Wilson as one of the "prime synthesizing minds in the world today."
The product of a lonely, itinerant childhood, Wilson began studying insects at age nine. Later, his scrutiny of ants in faraway places ranging from Suriname to Vanuatu enabled the self-effacing Harvard myrmecologist to discover connections between the size and remoteness of ecosystems and their diversity, an idea that has proved crucial to understanding the crisis of extinction. His examination of ant social structure started Wilson on investigations that led him to conclude that the social behavior of all animals, including humans, is influenced by genes.
Alarmed by the loss of species around the world, the celebrated naturalist--winner of biology's highest honors and two Pulitzer Prizes--has become an ecological Paul Revere. "The loss of biodiversity," he is fond of saying, "is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us."
TONI MORRISON Novelist