Despite being the son of a former U.S. Vice President, Al Gore III isn't one to put on airs. "He is incredibly friendly," says Nick Carrington, 24, a friend from Harvard who graduated with Gore in 2005, "and down-to-earth."

And also, undoubtedly, troubled. On July 4, Gore had his latest run-in with the law (see box) when Orange County sheriff's deputies pulled him over at 2:15 a.m. for driving 100 mph in a Toyota Prius and smelled marijuana in his car. He has been charged with illegal possession of the drug as well as Vicodin, Xanax and Valium; he faces a year in prison if convicted. (Through a spokeswoman, Gore had no comment.) "He struggles with drugs, [but] he's not John Belushi," says another friend. "He's always struggled with being in the limelight."

Gore was just 6 when he barely survived being hit by a car. After Harvard, he moved to Los Angeles, where he is an associate publisher of Good magazine, which promotes topics close to his dad's heart: philanthropy and good works. Asked in December about their relationship, the younger Gore said he sees his dad now more than ever. "He's my best friend," he told the New York Observer. "He's taught me more than anyone."