1 I dont think the idea that Nader cost Gore the election holds water. I admit a case could be made but I feel it would be weak,
2 It isnt the same thing. The Tea Party is still a part of the Republican Party. It just stands for a core set of values, over the idea of the big tent. Third Party candidates always exist. Show me a wide spread case of Democrats fighting for people people who are more progressive idealogicaly even though there are stronger moderates.
The Tea Party is a whole new ballgame. It represents a fundemental split in the party. They agree on a lot, but refuse to back down on taxes.