Usually considered a historical footnote or contemporary also-ran, the vice president was fully put on the pedestal at the TV Critics’ winter press tour this week.

Never has there been a day when the office has been so vaunted, in the presentation of new shows, TV movies and network directions.

But on Friday, there were panels on “Veep,” HBO’s funny new sitcom with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a fictional vice president; Julianna Moore’s transfixing portrayal of disastrous vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the HBO TV movie version of “Game Change.” And there was a vice president himself in Al Gore.

It was the second time Clinton’s vice president and the winner of the 2000 Presidential popular vote had been before the critics. The first came in unveiling his new network Current TV; the second one came this week, as he explained its shift to more of a prime time progressive outlet than the youth-centric, viewer-derived content network it had been.

“What we bring that’s different is a consistent, progressive point of view, politically direct and hard hitting,” Gore said.

That involves putting on shows like “Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm,” starting Jan. 30, and in between them, the show that gave them the new direction, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

It was Olbermann’s absence during the early GOP battles that caused some commotion at the panel.

“Keith is on vacation,” executive David Bohrman said. “Keith has told us he will do our special election coverage moving forward. That is what we want him to do.”

As for the current state of politics in the Republican primary, he said it “reminds me of a reality show where nobody gets voted off the island.”

Mostly, he was campaigning on behalf of the retooled Current, the key to which is its independence.

“It’s not just a word,” Gore said. “It’s not just a slogan. It’s not just an identity. It is a reality that empowers us to ignore what corporate conglomerates might want. We don’t answer to any powers that be. We do our very best to present the truth without fear or favor and connect the dots in a politically direct way from a progressive point of view, and I hope you all will enjoy watching.”

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