Meeting of the minds

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I was supposed to have lunch with former President Bill Clinton in Little Rock, Ark., on Saturday. Turned out, while he spoke to me (and 399 of our closest friends), I ended up skipping lunch. Clinton has lost none of his ability to mesmerize an audience. When he got on the stage, he said he didn’t have much to say, and he showed us about a page and a half of notes for his speech. He then went on to talk for about two hours. And after that, he greeted us reporters, editors and business types, answering questions, and signing books, scraps of paper and business cards. It was the annual conference of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.

I’ve got to confess, I was kind of starstruck. When he finished his talk, I got to the front, croaked my name and shook his hand. He said, “Thanks,” then I said, “Thanks,” and he moved on to the next person who was self-possessed enough to have an intelligent question.

There’s a lot to talk about in this conference, but I know most of you will be most interested to hear what Clinton had to say. Let me focus on one thing. He said that every decade needs a primary thing to expand the economy (for example, the ‘90s had the Internet) and one has not developed in the 2000s (although I could argue that the war on Iraq has served the purpose for a few companies and will probably continue to). He also said the opportunity exists to make curing global warming and preparing for the transition from the petroleum-based world economy our Next Big Thing.

We’ve got to want it, though. One of the things he said that struck me as interesting was that the countries that followed the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases—the thing that our current leadership said would bankrupt this nation—got an economic boost from developing the technology. This is pretty heavy stuff for little ole me. Expect to hear more about it in coming weeks and months.