Former Vice President Al Gore was on "The Early Show" this morning to discuss his documentary about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," and his political future with co-host Harry Smith. The former Vice President, or as Harry Smith referred to him, this "road warrior for the environment," claimed there was no reason to debate the existence of global warming, "And, I’ve been trying to tell this story for 30 years, Harry, and the debate among the scientists is over. There’s no more debate, we face a planetary emergency." Harry Smith acknowledged that global warming is not a universally accepted fact, but also charged that it’s the conservative media who don’t accept the premise, "But if I look at more elements, more conservative elements of the media, I would say there is a debate going on..." Mr. Gore responded by comparing conservatives who question the science supporting global warming to those who question the moon landing or the shape of the Earth. Harry Smith did not question this conclusion, instead he just interjected "right." In fact, this sounded less like an interview, and more like a discussion on the Senate floor between 2 liberal Democrats who agree with each other.
Former Vice President Gore, if not currently a candidate for political office, is certainly pushing a political issue, that is the earth is getting warmer and humans are to blame. He ought to be asked tough questions. If pollution is causing global warming, does he think about the current prices of gas here in America? Is it too expensive, or compared to Europe , is it too cheap? Or, Gore constantly promotes the Kyoto treaty, but nation’s like Germany, Canada, and Great Britain aren’t meeting their goals, so does Kyoto really have a purpose. Or even if these industrialized nation’s meet their goals, but China and India max out their pollutants, there has been a zero sum benefit, but at the cost of industrialized economies, so is Kyoto worth it? But, does Smith ask him any question that is even remotely tough or probing? No. Instead, he seems to suck up to Gore on the global warming issue. What follows, are three of Smith’s facilitators, and I refer to them as facilitators because they aren’t really questions, to illustrate my point:
"And, I want you to talk very specifically about some of the things you say in this movie. Because you have the charts, and here is the temperature going up and up and up beyond the normal sort of abberational changes of the history of the planet. And as that goes up, there seems to be a cataclysmic conclusion as a result."
After Gore’s response, Smith follows up:
"And if that happens, if these, if the ice caps melt, if Greenland were, were to melt, as you say in the film, we look back at history and what's happened on this planet before, it literally changes everything."
Gore responds and Smith inquires:
"I'm watching you in this film, you look so comfortable in your own skin. You look like Al Gore in full, as it were. Is there something about this time in your life that you feel like you can say what you want to say, do what you want to do, sort of unencumbered by thoughts of political office?"
Gore goes on to claim his movie is an action movie, because he wants the audience to take action. The notion that it’s an action film provokes laughter from Smith, but again gets a suck up response from him:
"Well the box office receipts would indicate that it's an action movie, you did better per screening than almost anything that's come out this week."
Yes Harry, the box office receipts would show that Mr. Gore’s film did very well in Los Angeles and New York City, where it was shown, but then again, they are two of the bluest areas in the country, so that seems logical.
What is illogical, is why Smith would go out of his way to assist Gore in promoting the threat of global warming without a single challenging question. Unless, as Smith pointed out, it is the conservative media that raises questions about global warming, so does that mean it’s the liberal media who helps sell the idea?
Transcript of the segment follows.
Harry Smith: "Former Vice President Al Gore is passionate about global warming. He's convinced that it's a real and present danger to the planet. Ever since losing the heated White House race back in 2000, he has devoted his life to spreading the word."
Al Gore, Former Vice President: "I am Al Gore, I used to be the next President of the United States of America."
Harry Smith: "And that's the funny line from a very serious lecture that has become Al Gore's mission."
Al Gore: "The arctic is experiencing faster melting. If this were to go, sea level world wide would go up 20 feet."
Harry Smith: "Since his still controversial loss to George Bush in the 2000 election, Gore has recast himself as a road warrior for the environment. Traveling from town to town, country to country with a message of warning, a message that's now been made into a movie."
Al Gore: "Here's Manhattan, the World Trade Center memorial would be under water."
Harry Smith: "Out of the shadows of yesterday's news, Al Gore has suddenly emerged as the comeback kid. Thousands have downloaded bootlegged video from his recent surprise appearance on 'Saturday Night Live.'"
Craig Crawford, Congressional Quarterly, Columnist: "It started with a 'Saturday Night Live' appearance, I think, and then this movie that he's done on Global Warming. Al Gore is somewhat vindicated in the minds of a lot of Democratic voters as George Bush has become so unpopular."
Harry Smith: "Will Hillary Clinton soon have a former Vice President to contend with on the 2008 Presidential campaign trail. That's a good question. And Vice President Al Gore joins us this morning as you rolled your eyes during the last paragraph of that little taped piece there. Let's get that business out of the way first and foremost."
Al Gore: "I rolled my eyes off the record."
Harry Smith: "Any way, shape, I've read that you've told some of your old supporters 'please throw your support someplace else, I am not running for President.' Unequivocally not running for President?"
Al Gore: "I don't have any plans to run. I'm not thinking about running. I don't expect to ever be a candidate again. I haven't made so called 'Shermanesque' statement that for the rest of my life I'll never ever think about that. But that, that exception is just my own internal shifting of gears. I'm not trying to be coy or anything. I am involved in a campaign, but it's not for a candidacy, it's for a cause."
Harry Smith: "Let's talk about this movie, because I saw it yesterday. I remember when you wrote the book, which is almost 20 years ago."
Al Gore: "Yeah, well 14 years ago. And I have a new book out now, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' same title as the movie, by Rodell. And I've been trying to tell this story for 30 years, Harry. And the debate among the scientists is over. There's no more debate. We face a planetary emergency, and the phrase sounds shrill, but it is an accurate description of the climate crisis that we have to confront and solve."
Harry Smith: "But, if I look at more elements, more conservative elements of the press, I would say there is a debate going on, because you know they say that you're just trying to create this kind of 'boogeyman' to help slow down the economy and everything else. How do you respond to that?"
Al Gore: "(chuckles) Well, I guess in some quarters there's still a debate over whether the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona. Or, whether the earth is flat instead of round."
Harry Smith: "Right."
Al Gore: "And there may be some media reports that are constructed in a way that says on the one hand, on the other hand. But, really and truly, global warming is in that category. There is no more scientific debate among serious people who've looked at the evidence."
Harry Smith: "And, I want you to talk very specifically about some of the things you say in this movie. Because you have the charts, and here is the temperature going up and up and up beyond the normal sort of aberrational changes of the history of the planet. And as that goes up, there seems to be a cataclysmic conclusion as a result."
Al Gore: "Yeah, what, what makes this hard to absorb is that our relationship as human beings to the planet we live on has been radically transformed just in the last century or so. We've quadrupled our population, our technologies have become thousands of times stronger, and the combination has created this collision between civilization as we're now pursuing it and the ecology of the planet. And the most vulnerable part of the planet's ecological system is this very thin shell of atmosphere around the earth. And. we're now filling that up with so much global warming pollution, that it's trapping a lot more of the sun's heat inside the atmosphere, melting almost all the mountain glaciers, the North Pole is starting to melt. It's threatening to change the patterns of wind currents and ocean currents, and where the droughts get stronger."
Harry Smith: "And if that happens, if these, if the ice caps melt, if Greenland were, were to melt, as you say in the film, we look back at history and what's happened on this planet before, it literally changes everything."
Al Gore: "Yeah, that's right and the climate system usually moves very slowly, so slowly we can't even perceive it. But in the ancient history of the Earth, there have been times when there've been sudden shifts. And, it's like poking a wild animal with a stick, it may wake up. And, the climate can with so much pollution, flip into a different pattern that would not be sustainable for us."
Harry Smith: "I'm watching you in this film, you look so comfortable in your own skin. You look like Al Gore in full, as it were. Is there something about this time in your life that you feel like you can say what you want to say, do what you want to do, sort of unencumbered by thoughts of political office?"
Al Gore: "Uh, well, you know, I think there's a lot about the political system that, that I don't like. But, I respect those who are in it. And, they have an obligation on this issue. Where I, myself, am concerned, it is a luxury to be able to focus just on a passionate expression of what the truth of this is all about. The movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' is not political, uh it is, it's factual. And it is designed to help change the minds of the American people by putting before everybody, in the movie and in the book, a umm, a clearer and I hope entertaining, description of exactly what our circumstances are. And I see it as an action movie, because it's designed to--"
Harry Smith: <laughter>
Al Gore: "--to get the audience--"
Harry Smith: "Well the box office receipts would indicate that it's an action movie, you did better per screening then almost anything that's come out this week."
Al Gore: "Well, I'm pleased by that, but it's designed to get the audience to take action. We really do have to cross a tipping point beyond which the politicians in both parties will take this and go with it."
Harry Smith: "Mr. Vice President, great to see you. Thank you so much, do appreciate it."