Al Gore - Fuck Yeah:
The Rude Pundit had one question for Al Gore last night when the former Vice President spoke and took part in a panel on his film, An Inconvenient Truth, at the Town Hall in New York City. The audience was asked to scribble its questions, to Gore, calmly horrifying climate scientist James Hansen, producer/cheerleader Laurie David, and just plain creepy producer Lawrence Bender, on cards provided to us. The Rude Pundit scrawled a simply, brief query that Gore wasn't asked by host John Hockenberry, but he knows that Gore has the question, because Hockenberry handed Gore a stack of like-minded ones. The question was this: "Why wouldn't you run for President in 2008?"
Al Gore is our Coriolanus, one of those Shakespeare characters that doesn't get as much attention as your fancy Hamlet or crazy MacBeth. See, Coriolanus was a hero to the Romans, celebrated by the patricians as a warrior, but he couldn't take his place as a leader because he couldn't connect to the plebians of Rome and get them to vote for him. This is not to mention the backstabbing and lies told by those out to sink him. Sent into exile, Coriolanus, humbled, chastened, goes to his former enemies for help. He leads that army into battle and kicks Rome's ass, making it beg for mercy, and becomes a hero to his new home nation.
Last night, Gore was as you've heard, loose, funny, and smart. Goddamn, so fuckin' smart. Every time he opened his mouth to discuss some aspect of melting ice caps or fuel efficiency, you just wanted to weep, thinking, "Jesus Christ, he won. Motherfucker won. He should be our president right now, not that inarticulate, shit-tossing baboon hunched in the ditch next to Tony Blair right now." What Gore does better than anyone in the Democratic Party right now, from Hillary Clinton to Russ Feingold, is articulate liberal issues as moral callings. Not squishy, feel-good sentiments, but deep in the soul, religious, even, moral purposes. Like, you know, Christians are supposed to do.
Essentially, Gore's mission on global warming is rhetorically similar to George Bush's mission in Iraq: revolution now so that the future can be secure. The difference, of course, is that Gore isn't a liar, and he doesn't have to hype the evidence. Gore approaches his subject the way every politician ought to lead: he knows he's right, and he's so right that others are wrong. When Gore was asked about scientists who say that climatic change is just part of ongoing natural cycles, Gore didn't pander, didn't offer that idiotic "well, good people can have differences of opinion" bullshit the Bush administration uses to paper over their lies. No, Gore just said that the questioner was wrong. That the vast scientific consensus says global warming is real and happening. And to believe otherwise is to believe liars. He said scientists who say otherwise are industrial "prostitutes" and "camp followers" (he hesitated before saying that - you knew he wanted to say "whores" or "skanky, disease-ridden bitches").
Gore was often spanked in the press for sounding smart and right about everything. But if you have a problem with someone calling out motherfuckers for fucking their mothers, then perhaps you need to take another look at who's in your bed. You look at Gore now and you can't help but think that perhaps we've moved past the Forrest Gump-ish wisdom of the stupid phase and want the cold comfort of a poindexter telling us what's real. It's been said, and it's true, that Gore is liberated now. He was marginalized and now he's moving back to the center of the national discourse.
The Rude Pundit's not gonna sit here and do reportage on much of the evening. It was, mostly, a recapitulation of the film's ideas, with Hansen there to add gravitas and authority and to scare the shit out of us in the way that global warming is more frightening and more likely than attacks by a hundred bin Ladens. The only thing new was that Gore praised Hillary Clinton's talk on ethanol (Chelsea was in the house). But, to return to the Rude Pundit's question for Gore, a kind of "What do you have to lose" by running for Prez, Hockenberry posed it this way: "What do you say to people who think you are more interested in Powerpoint than in political power?"
Gore joked (earlier he had called politicians "a renewable resource"), and he said he had "no intention" to run for President. Then he turned it around, speaking quietly, which, whenever he does, it's time to listen. He made a statement about the power of the people, of James Madison's "informed electorate," and about the responsibility of citizens to be active participants in the destiny of the nation. For Gore, running for President would give him the wide national platform to even discuss these issues. But more important to him is a politics of engagement, whether in power or not.
And perhaps he's right. For things did not end well for Coriolanus. See, Coriolanus didn't destroy Rome. He made peace, and that pissed off the leader of his new nation, so he had Coriolanus assassinated at his moment of greatest glory. And, god, what blood is spilled along the way.