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Inconvenient Split of Al and Tipper Gore

As a couple, Al and Tipper Gore battled the campaign trail, the record industry, the tabloids -- even global warming. Yet it appears they were fighting a private battle that they just can't win: After 40 years of marriage, former vice president and presidential candidate Al Gore and his loyal wife Tipper have announced they are separating.

On Monday, the couple stated via email that their long marriage was over.

"We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought we have decided to separate, " the email said. "This is very much a mutual decision and a mutually supportive process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect of our privacy and that of our family and we do not intend to comment further." Website Politico broke the news of the email and soon after spokespeople for the couple confirmed the sad and shocking news.

The split comes as a big surprise to pundits and celebrity couple watchers alike. After all, the Gore's marriage has never been wrought with scandal like John and Elizabeth Edwards' or subject to tongue wagging speculation like that of Bill and Hillary Clinton's. Furthermore, the Gores appeared to be one of Washington's most stable and loving couples. Their devotion was immortalized by a famous passionate kiss at the podium of the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Since losing the election in 2000, Al Gore has devoted himself to environmental causes surrounding the issue of global warming. This work spawned a best-selling book and an Oscar-winning film, both entitled An Inconvenient Truth. Gore also filled his time with entrepreneurial endeavors and business ventures like Generation Investment Management, a sustainable investment program, and the co-founding of Current TV, a cable network in which he also serves as chairman. Additionally, Gore works as a director for both Apple and Google. Tipper is a photographer and briefly considered running for Senate in her home state of Tennessee when the the couple returned after living in Washington.

Al and Tipper Gore have four adult children and three grandchildren.