Gore and tipping points

I missed him last Saturday night but sure didn’t Sunday morning when I found my e-mail in-box stuffed with video forwards and transcripts from former Vice President Al Gore’s surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live.

He performed as “President Gore” and spoke from a parallel universe in which he was actually elected president in 2000 instead of that other fellow. With great authority, he described his reign as 43rd president. He mentioned global warming (it had been stopped), gas prices (about 19 cents a gallon), the national budget surplus ($11 trillion) and the chief justice of the Supreme Court (George Clooney). “Right now in the second week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history,” he deadpanned. “We have way too much gasoline!” Et cetera.

The stunt was funny, yeah, but kinda bittersweet, too. Mostly, it was meant to further hype An Inconvenient Truth, the new documentary on Gore and global warming. Made by Davis Guggenheim, the film is an effort, in Gore’s words, “to move the United States past a tipping point on climate change.”

When regular SN&R contributor Ralph Brave mentioned he was set to be included in a small group interview with Gore in Washington, D.C., I said, “Yeah, we’re interested.” It’s true that the former VP was already getting plenty of coverage in all kinds of media because of the film. But we couldn’t pass up our chance anyway.

Asked why America has done so little about climate change, Gore told Brave, “I think that there has been a determined strategy on the part of a well-financed group of companies and lobbyists that spend full time trying to confuse the American people about the truth concerning global warming. That’s not a conspiracy theory. It has been elaborately documented.”

And guess what? Not surprisingly, it’s those same companies who—bolstered by the Bush administration—are ultimately running the country today. The former VP’s comment sent me back to that foreboding feeling that settled after the 2000 election. And though Gore told Brave he wouldn’t be running for president in 2008, count me among those who hope he’ll hit a tipping point and change his mind.