AFTER 40 YEARS of marriage, ex-Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, are separating.

Was it Al's uncensored, sexually explicit rapping?

Did Tipper finally come across an inconvenient truth?

Is this really more significant than the separation of Heidi and Spencer?

According to an e-mail circulated among the couple's friends, relatives and colleagues yesterday, the Gores said it was "a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration."

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider confirmed that the statement had come from the Gores, but declined to comment further.

So now the question is, can the man who's trying to save the planet, save his marriage?

The Gores told friends that they "grew apart" after 40 years of marriage and that there was no affair involved, according to two longtime close associates and family friends who spoke on the condition of anonymity as if it was none of their bleeping business.

The sources said the Gores, over time, had carved out separate lives, with the former veep on the road frequently. One of the associates said: "Their lives had gotten more and more separated."

The Gores were married on May 19, 1970, at the National Cathedral in Washington.

Tipper was a co-founder in 1985 of the Parents Music Resource Center, which pushed for parental warning labels on music with violent or sexually explicit lyrics. The group drew the ire of musicians who included Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Frank Zappa, who said warning labels were unnecessary and a danger to freedom.

Tipper later became friends with the late Zappa's wife, Gail, and played drums and sang backup on daughter Diva Zappa's album in 1999.

The Gores have four adult children, Karenna, Kristin, Sarah and Albert III.

About that oil spill . . . It's not unusual for the federal government to look to Hollywood for support, but normally the politicians want campaign contributions.

It's a sign of how messed up things are in the Gulf of Mexico and how little faith the feds have in BP, that federal officials have gone to James Cameron, hoping he can help them come up with ideas on how to stop the ocean from turning into a giant oil drum.

The "Avatar" and "Titanic" director, who's considered an expert on underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies, was among a group of scientists and other experts who met yesterday with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies to brainstorm on how to stop the oil leak.

Sigourney Weaver better be ready to kick some butt.

Tattbits* "Spider-Man" star Kirsten Dunst

reprised her role yesterday as a star witness against a mechanic being tried - for the second time - on charges of helping steal her designer purse from a Manhattan hotel suite during a 2007 movie shoot.

Wearing a demure, loose black dress and a sometimes weary expression, the actress gave jurors a clipped, subdued account of returning from filming to find her $2,000 Balenciaga handbag gone from a SoHo Grand Hotel penthouse suite.

Her assistant's bag and co-star

Simon Pegg's cell phone and other possessions also were taken from the room, which was being used as an actors' lounge while the 2008 comedy "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" was shot downstairs.

"All our belongings were gone. I thought that my assistant had taken them and put them somewhere else, but everything was gone," Dunst testified. Inside the bag were her wallet, credit and other cards, vintage Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses and $2,000 in cash, she said.

Besides calling hotel security staffers and police, "We even went outside to look for our bags, like maybe it was dumped in a Dumpster," she added.

The mechanic, James Jimenez, was convicted last fall of trespassing, but jurors deadlocked on the more serious burglary charge. He's being retried on that charge.

* Billboard.com says

Aerosmith is bringing its Cocked, Locked, Ready to Rock Tour to North America for 18 summer dates.

The closest the band will get to Philadelphia is the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., on Aug. 24 and Boardwalk Hall in A.C. on Aug. 28.

* TMZ.com reported

yesterday that Dr. Drew's "Celebrity Rehab" has been put on hiatus because the producers couldn't get a big enough star to commit.

Or be committed.

The show was supposed to start shooting yesterday, but they're still a few stoned celebs short.

As TMZ first reported, Tila Tequila and Jason Wahler signed on, but they didn't make for a strong enough lineup.

TMZ sources say producers offered Lindsay Lohan $1 million and her own show, but Lindsay nixed the idea.

In follow-up craziness, RadarOnline.com reported yesterday that the producers were trying to lure Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson to the show.

Clearly they understand there's not a chance of that happening.

* According to TMZ.com, Charlie will plead no contest to misdemeanor assault and serve 30 days in jail. If he behaves himself in the hoosegow, the 30 days could be reduced to 17 days.

Sheen

Uh, Sheen's problem is behaving himself outside of jail.

* BANGShowbiz.com reports Katy and Russell Brand ("Get Him to the Greek") don't want any wedding presents.

Perry

And after all the time Tattle spent shopping . . .

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

E-mail gensleh@phillynews.com.