Al Gore has told Bill Clinton the Monica Lewinsky scandal was partly responsible for his election defeat.
Clinton hit back by telling Gore he should have campaigned on the Clinton government's impressive record.
The pair are reported to have had the blunt exchange during a one hour meeting.
The White House meeting showed the two men's once close relationship had deteriorated badly over the course of Gore's 2000 election race.
One Democrat who has worked closely with both men called the meeting "very, very blunt."
Their relationship suffered irreparable harm in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Gore, said one Democrat, "seemed eager to get things off his chest."
But one Clinton adviser said: "He felt it was a very good conversation."
Jake Siewert, a spokesman for Clinton, and Kiki McLean, a spokeswoman for Gore, said their bosses would not comment on the private conversation.