Al Gore was at the 92nd St. Y earlier this week, making jokes about drug addicts. Meanwhile, as of this morning, imprisoned Current.TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee - Gore's employees - are facing further hearings in North Korea.

Via a Page Six item, the joke in question came during a talk on climate change moderated by Charlie Rose: Gore was discussing the discovery of small pockets of oil (probably something about the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, a favorite topic of his), relating such events to "the way junkies find things between their toes."

Funny? Not so much, (A) because drug arrests kinda run in the family and (B) as reported this morning, Laura Ling and Euna Lee - the two journalists under his employ at Current.TV who were detained by the North Korean government for enterting the country illegally - are going to be facing further trials this week, with no definitive end or positive resolution in sight.

'I don't think North Korea is holding back the trial results, but is actually continuing the trial,' said an unnamed source described by South Korea's Yonhap news agency as being 'familiar' with the case.

Gore has been silent on the issue, Current.TV told their people to not say a word about it. It's no less disconcerting that Gore was, according to the Page Six item, at a fundraiser for Andrew Cuomo earlier in the day, instead of working - doing something, anything - to free his employees from what's probably the worst work-related trip of all time. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's now threatening to put North Korea back on our country's list of "Terror States" as of this morning, and President Obama just told them that we're not playin' when it comes to nuclear proliferation as of yesterday. Things are absolutely getting worse, and it's pretty clear that if North Korea views Ling and Lee as diplomatic pawns, our government sure as hell doesn't.

Gore's got several points of entry he can make: among the few political issues Pyongyang takes "public" is climate change. The North Korean government loves to have their asses kissed, and the Department of State hasn't ruled out Gore's involvement, so him coming simply as a diplomat couldn't be a bad thing.

So what's Gore waiting for? Our government's approval? A PR angle? Whatever it is, it better come quick. There's virtually no idea out there of what Ling and Lee are going through, or how they're being treated. Ling and Lee could be fine. They could simply get deported, get off scot-free. But Lee's got family in South Korea. Who, you know, North Korea doesn't really like. Which is besides Americans, which Ling and Lee both are.

And this thing just continues to get worse by the second.

Al Gore Has Foot-In-Mouth [Page Six]
2 US journalists still on trial [The Straits Times]