A former Democratic senator from Alaska, who was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War at the time, announced on Monday his long-shot bid for the presidency in 2008 and a plan to reshape US democracy. Mike Gravel, a 76-year-old self-described maverick, said he wants to give citizens the direct power to make laws based on popular votes, not exclusively through elected members of Congress. "Our three branches of government have become like an unstable chair, a three-legged chair," Gravel said. "The founders could not have envisioned how much money and special interests would corrupt the political process. Giving us Americans legislative power will put forth the fourth leg of our stool and make it stable."