DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore criticized John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, on Thursday, playing on his reputation as an environmental activist.
Former Vice President Al Gore says Obama will provide the necessary change to stop the climate crisis.
"McCain ... is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies -- those policies -- all over again," Gore said. "Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous."
The former vice president invoked the bitterly disputed 2000 presidential election to argue that Americans should elect Barack Obama in November.
"Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president," he told delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
"But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter," he said.
Gore lost to George W. Bush in the most controversial election in a century, beating him in the popular vote but losing the race in the Electoral College when the Supreme Court stopped a recount in Florida.
He drove home an argument many Democrats have made this week in Denver.
"With John McCain's support, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have led our nation into one calamity after another because of their indifference to fact, their readiness to sacrifice the long-term to the short-term, subordinate the general good to the benefit of the few and short-circuit the rule of law.
"If you like the Bush/Cheney approach, John McCain's your man. If you believe it's time for a change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden" for president and vice president, Gore said.
Gore said the election was close because "the forces of the status quo are desperately afraid of the change Barack Obama represents."
He said the Republican Party had "browbeaten" McCain into "abandoning his support of mandatory caps on global warming pollution." Watch Gore describe why he thinks race is close »
He said "special interests" controlled the Bush administration and that the United States needed "a change from the approach of Bush, Cheney and McCain."
He accused them of "wreck[ing] the economy," "abandon[ing] the search for the terrorists who attacked us" and abandoning the principle "first laid down by General George Washington," barring the torture of captives "because it would bring, in his words, 'shame, disgrace and ruin' to our nation."
Gore compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln, "now regarded by most historians as our greatest president."
"Before he entered the White House, Abraham Lincoln's experience in elective office consisted of eight years in his state legislature in Springfield, Illinois and one term in Congress," Gore said, an effort to rebut those who say Obama does not have enough experience to be president.
Lincoln "was known chiefly as a clear thinker and a great orator with a passion for justice and a determination to heal the deep divisions of our land," Gore said.
"In 2008, once again, we find ourselves at the end of an era with a mandate from history to launch another new beginning. And once again, we have a candidate whose experience perfectly matches an extraordinary moment of transition."