30 Apr 2006 13:51:32
Dave Hazelwood
Al Gore - 'At Some Point, Reality Has Its Day'

Later on in the article Gore says this .....

Do you see anything positive in President Bush’s leadership—anything you admire about him?
I have to confess that I fear I’m losing some objectivity where he’s concerned. I think he did a good job in his appointment of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman. And I
think he did well in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in rallying the country and going into Afghanistan. I think he started making catastrophic errors immediately after that, but I
think that in the initial aftermath, he did a good job.

....... He is being honest and giving credit where credit was due ..... BUT since then Bush has fucked up royally. He saw it as his chance to loot the treasury and enrich his
friends by scaring the shit out of the people.

'At Some Point, Reality Has Its Day'
Al Gore on why America—and even George Bush—is close to a tipping point on global warming.
By Eleanor Clift
Updated: 5:56 p.m. ET April 28, 2006

April 28, 2006 - Al Gore has launched his new campaign—this one to battle the effects of global warming. At its center is a new film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which stars Gore and
has been winning surprisingly positive press. It opens May 24. The former vice president, who has abandoned a relatively low profile to promote the movie, spoke to Eleanor Clift
about the environment, technology and politics in America. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: They say timing is everything. Has the moment arrived for this issue?
Al Gore: I hope it has. I hope that we are close to a tipping point beyond which the country will begin to face this very seriously and the majority of politicians in both parties
will begin to compete by offering meaningful solutions. We’re nowhere close to that yet, but a tipping point by definition is a time of very rapid change—and I think that the
potential for this change has been building up, with the evangelical ministers speaking out, General Electric and Republican CEOs saying we have to address it, grass-roots
organizations—all of these things are happening at the same time because through various means people are seeing a new reality. The relationship between our civilization and the
earth has been radically transformed. Global warming is by far the most serious manifestation of the collision—and Mother Nature is making the evidence ever more obvious.
Scientific studies have been coming out right and left over the last several years that connect various parts of the overall picture to the whole. And by whatever means, a lot of
people have been absorbing this message, and they’re now saying, "Wait a minute, we really have to do something about this."

Where did you get your initial interest in this?
When I was an undergraduate I was privileged to sign up for a course offered by the first person to measure CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. He was a visionary, and he saw that the
postwar economic boom powered by coal and oil was beginning to radically change the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere—and he knew atmospheric chemistry, and he knew what it
would do to outgoing infrared radiation. So he started this historic set of measurements out in the middle of the Pacific. He shared his measurements with my undergraduate class,
and he explained what it meant and sketched the future implications in such a compelling way that it was different from other experiences I had in college. I kept in touch with
him, and later when I was elected to Congress—10 years later, or less—I helped organize the first hearings on this issue and had him as the lead-off witness. And that began a long
series of hearings in the House and in the Senate, which led to a book and then, as vice president, to Kyoto and other measures. All along that journey I have watched those
measurements continue to come in, and what my professor pointed to almost 40 years ago has come true.

How did this become a movie?
After I left the White House in January 2001, I once again started giving a slide show on global warming on a regular basis. The first time I took the slides out of storage and
held them up to the light and combined them into one carousel, went down to Middle Tennessee State University to give my slide show, and they were all backward. It was a very
awkward and embarrassing moment, and I went back home to Nashville and Tipper said, "I knew I should have put those in for you." And then she said, "By the way, Mr. Information
Super Highway, we have computers now and you should put them on your computer." Once I did that, it began to get a lot easier to update and improve—it got to the point where it was
much better and more compelling. And at that point, I started to give it a lot more frequently—several times a week. At one of the showings in Los Angeles several people from the
entertainment industry came up afterward and talked to me, and said, "Would you consider making this into a movie?" I was skeptical about that. I couldn’t see how a slide show
could be a movie, but they set up a follow-up meeting and persisted, and they satisfied my concerns that the science would be in the foreground and that it would be true to the
integrity of the message, and they have done a fantastic job. The result I think—it’s surprising to me—is a very entertaining and compelling movie that does preserve the central
elements of the slide show.

And you inject some humor into your presentation.
It’s hard to believe—I benefit from low expectations.

I was surprised to hear that as vice president you went to China and gave the slide show. Why didn’t we hear about it until now?
The visit to China that’s documented in the movie, that’s later. But I did give a full presentation in the Great Hall of the People in China when I was vice president. A lot of the
speeches and events and messages on global warming were not seen as being on the A list of issues to be covered by the news media. So a lot of what I tried to do to get more
attention to it seemed as if it didn’t take place because it didn’t make it through that filter. But in any case, I think that’s changing now—I think that people are tuned into it
now. I hope that continues.

What do you hope to accomplish with this film?
It’s not just the film: I have a book coming out June 2 that is also titled “An Inconvenient Truth.” At the end of the summer I’ll start a training program to show others how to
give my slide show. And what I hope to accomplish with all of the above is to help move the United States of America past a tipping point beyond which the political dialogue is
completely different, and that both parties are competing to really solve this crisis. You know in England now that’s already happened. Both parties are competing to be the most
imaginative and creative and effective on this issue, and it’s healthy. And this shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be lifted above partisanship because it’s a question of
survival. It’s a moral issue.

What do you say to President Bush and others who still suggest we need more study?
Well, the title “An Inconvenient Truth” is a way of highlighting the reasons why some people, including the president, don’t seem to accept the truth. It’s inconvenient. This
administration, as has been abundantly documented, is quite responsive to the oil and coal industry and, by the way, to the least responsible companies within those industries. And
they do not want anything done on global warming.

Because it would cut into their profits?
I think there are three reasons. One is they genuinely believed that in the past there has been hyperbole used to stampede the Congress or the people to adopt some measure that
later turned out to be excessive—they fear that might be happening again—so there’s a reflexive us and them. I’m trying to give them credit.

Secondly, though, I think that it’s an example of the Upton Sinclair quote that “It’s hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding.”
The behavior of ExxonMobil is disgraceful. They finance in whole or in part 40 organizations that put out disinformation on global warming designed to confuse the American people.
There has emerged in the last couple of decades a lobbying strategy that is based on trying to control perceptions. In some sense it’s not new, but it’s new in the sophistication
and the amount of resources they devote to it. It’s not new in the sense it’s the same thing the tobacco industry did after the surgeon general’s report of 1964, and that is a
major part of the reason why the Bush administration doesn’t do anything. The president put their chief guy in charge of environmental policy in the White House.

The third reason is that some of the ideological conservatives believe that if global warming is a) real and b) as bad as the scientists are telling us—and we’re responsible for it
and we have to fix it—they worry that will mean government has to play a larger role in some way shape or form, and they want to prevent that no matter what.

But you know the temptation to reject the truth and try to manufacture your own reality is what got us into Iraq—it’s what got us into these deficits. At some point, reality has
its day. I hope they’ll change. I think there is a chance they’ll change. You know Winston Churchill once said that the American people generally do the right thing after first
exhausting every other alternative. And maybe after exhausting every other alternative, Bush will do the right thing on this. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I do think that
there’s a chance. And after all, as I said last night, if the scientists turn out to be right and we only have 10 years, we can’t give up two and a half years out of 10 to wait for
this guy to accept reality. You know there are 218 U.S. cities that have adopted Kyoto on their own, a lot of grass-roots initiatives that are very impressive, and all that’s going
to continue. I’m not Pollyannish about it, but I’m optimistic.

Do you see anything positive in President Bush’s leadership—anything you admire about him?
I have to confess that I fear I’m losing some objectivity where he’s concerned. I think he did a good job in his appointment of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman. And I
think he did well in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in rallying the country and going into Afghanistan. I think he started making catastrophic errors immediately after that, but I
think that in the initial aftermath, he did a good job.

Looking at what you’re doing and how you’re getting this issue out there and yourself out there, I’m wondering if you’re running the first campaign of the 21st century by framing
global warming as a moral challenge to a country that’s really eager for leadership.
Well it is a campaign, but it’s not a campaign for a candidate. I’m not a candidate. It is a campaign to change the way our country thinks about global warming. But I’m not a
candidate—I’ve been there and done that. And I found there are other ways to serve, and I’m enjoying them.

In 2000 and in 1988 when you ran, you really didn’t talk about the environment that much. I think you were counseled that it was not a good issue. Any regrets about that?
That’s the conventional wisdom that I want to challenge because in both cases I talked about it extensively. And to take 2000 as an example, there were numerous speeches and events
and proposals and multipoint plans that were not considered news, and if a tree falls in the forest and it’s not heard, then later on people think it didn’t happen. John Kerry went
thru a very similar experience in ’04 because the way the issue has been covered has been plagued with some of the adjectives that you began with—it’s marginal, it’s arcane, it’s
irrelevant, ridiculous—and so if a daily news cycle is devoted to that issue, then one candidate has his message out there and the other is mysteriously missing. There’s another
factor that’s often overlooked in 2000. Then governor George W. Bush publicly pledged to regulate CO2 emissions and to forcibly, with the rule of law, reduce them—and publicly said
"this is a serious problem and I will deal with it." Now, the other way that issues get covered in the media is if there’s conflict, and if there’s a sharp difference. And one is
tempted to conclude that [Karl] Rove crafted those positions that were immediately abandoned after the election—in the first week after the inauguration, the first week—one is
tempted to conclude that Rove wrote those positions in order to take from that issue any sense of contrast or conflict and thereby make it non-newsworthy. It certainly had that
effect, whether it was intentional or not. I can’t look into their hearts—I’ll let the grand jury do that. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.

The mainstream media still ruled during your campaign in 2000. It’s a very different world today with the Internet. How do you see the new media changing upcoming campaigns?
The old cliché about six months being a lifetime in politics is probably out of date now with the new technology coming wave upon wave. But I have a slightly different view from
what I hear a lot. I think that television is still the dominant medium, and I do believe that the Internet has brought about a continuing and accelerating revolution in the
technique of politics and the way candidates reach out to connect with individual voters and groups. But where the wholesale messaging is concerned, television is still completely
dominant. One statistic that illustrates that is that last year according to this new study Americans watched on average four hours and 39 minutes of television per day—and that’s
up four minutes from the previous year,even with the increased use of the Internet. And the vast majority of Internet users are watching television while they’re using the
Internet. I have a television network. I’ve spent a lot of time looking into these things. And the characteristic of television that is so different from the printing press that
was the medium dominating America’s birth is that television is one-way. The individual has no way to get into the conversation. My point is that television may not be dominant in
2008, but I wouldn’t bet on that. I think that it is still the most powerful medium, and the reason is it’s quasi-hypnotic. One of the most valuable things in the television
business if you’re a content creator is to have a good lead-in show before you. Why?

People don’t get up.
Not only do they not get up—a significant percentage are incapable of moving a thumb muscle to hit the remote because there’s a quasi-trance that sets in. I don’t want to
overdramatize it, but the fact is that people just sit there entranced—and that’s why most of the money in politics goes to television.

Do you think the Democrats have a chance of recapturing control of Congress?
I think there’s likely to be a Democratic wave this year. I think that the threshold for change of control in Congress is now artificially and absurdly high because of
redistricting politics and incumbent protection mechanisms, and the net result is that it’s rare to have more than a couple dozen seats really in serious contest. That may be
different this year. There may be a big enough wave. I just don’t know—I don’t follow it closely enough to really have an informed opinion.

You use the phrase “connect the dots” quite often. You delivered a speech on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, that was critical of Bush for acting unlawfully in
eavesdropping on Americans. Connect the dots from that speech to what you’re doing now.
This is different from that speech. I’m enjoying life, doing several different things that all fit together coherently for me. And one thing I do from time to time is when I can’t
stand it anymore, I give a speech trying to contribute to the public dialogue about what we’re doing as a country. And the massive and almost certain illegal wiretapping of
Americans outraged me and that’s why I gave that speech. That’s why I gave a speech on torture—several speeches on Iraq, et cetera, et cetera. But that is my contribution as a
citizen to what Madison called an informed citizenry to take part in the political dialogue—but as a citizen. Now where the global-warming mission is concerned, I am a
single-minded advocate to deliver a message that I think is crucial for our future. I don’t think that is a partisan message. I don’t think it should be a partisan message. I try
to make it nonpartisan. And there are a few jabs that are just my authentic representations how I’ve evolved and come to the issue, but people who see this movie don’t see it as a
political movie. And Republicans don’t find anything that they object to. Paramount has done these focus-group screenings, and they don’t see it like “Fahrenheit 9/11” at all. They
see it as nonpolitical. So I don’t connect that to my periodic speeches on issues of the day. It is one of the issues of the day, but it’s one that I’m really devoting myself to,
and I see it as different from the speeches I make.