Well, that's an interesting counter argument. I'll concede that speculating where the country would be had Gore been elected in 2000 is exactly that, pure speculation. Though I think you should also concede that saying that Gore is who he is now because he lost the election is exactly the same thing, pure speculation.
There's another point I think you're missing here though. The Gore that you saw in 2000 was the Gore that was being presented by Bush and equally as erroneously, the DNC. Just in the same manner that the Bush we saw in 2000 was a very different Bush that we elected into office. Remember that he was touted as a man of good integrity and morals, (thus winning over the people that were frustrated by the immorality of the Clinton-Lewinski scandal), I don't think that's the same man we saw for the last 7.5 years by any stretch.
Ironically the same thing is happening to McCain. McCain has fallen in step right in line with the Republican platform, despite the fact that he was anything but for as long as he served in the Senate. Now, I have no intention of voting for McCain, but my feeling is that if he won he'd be a lot less monstrous than the Democrats have made him out to be.
So where does that leave us? The candidates that are running are never who they appear to be in the election season. Period, end of sentence. BUT, they are someone. In the sense that underneath the mass of BS presented by both Parties, they do have beliefs and "character structures", as you say, that will inevitably affect the way they make decisions about our government. Just because we can't see the real people, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to peel away the onion and make a decision about them. My opinion is that it's our responsibility to do so. Otherwise, they win and we lose...again...
So, although you did not personally blow the election for Gore in 2000, your reasoning (which is shared by millions of us in this country) that you shouldn't vote because you don't like either candidate is, by definition, weakening our democracy and our voice in our own government.
And you still haven't answered the question I asked in the beginning. Will you vote in November?
Actually, I've said several times in various posts of mine that I voted for Obama this year in the primaries and will definitely be voting for him in November. Regarding most of the rest of what you say here, Loff56, I say: "I hear ya!" Except for this one thing - abstaining from voting in a Democracy IS participating, especially if it's done thoughtfully and not out of laziness or apathy. Choosing to vote for someone you don't believe in just because the other guy is an even bigger asshole is foolish, and denigrates democracy.
Okay, I'm done.