Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Convenient Oscar

Al Gore is going to take a triumphant walk down a red carpet tomorrow to the thunderous cheers and applause of the most famous people in the world. Where? At the Academy Awards, of course. 'An Inconvenient Truth' is going to win at least one Oscar, for best documentary film. It only brought in $24 million in theater release, making it the third-highest grossing documentary of all time, but the waves it has made all over the world keep getting stronger. A man who has spent his time in the wilderness will return as a hero, and entertainment will finally, literally be united with politics. It will be one of the great Oscars moments, and I hope to watch it.

Other films nominated for best documentary feature include Deliver Us From Evil, about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church; Iraq in Fragments, about the Sunni-Shiite conflict in that country; Jesus Camp, about a summer camp for evangelical Christians, and My Country, My Country, about the months leading up to the January 2005 elections in Iraq. Fine films, I'm sure. It's possible Gore will get edged out by one of them, demand a recount, and be overruled by a 5-to-4 Supreme Court vote. But I suspect this is Al Gore's year for Oscar; he'll take the adulation well, charming the crowd and the world. I'll go out on a rather sturdy limb and predict he'll win the Nobel Peace Prize this year, too.

There has been some speculation, as CNN reports, that Gore will use his Oscar speech to announce his candidacy for the Presidency. That would surprise me, but it would be a very pleasant one. I've previously speculated that Gore won't be able to avoid making a White House run, simply because people will be all over him to do so from now until the February primaries next year, and they won't give up even then. We desperately need his help, his vision is clear, and his solutions are acceptable to everyone but Big Oil. (Poor, poor Big Oil. "C'mon! Let's have one more war over it, and make it a big one! You've got one left in ya!) My un-famous voice is hereby added to the chorus: for god's sake, Al, RUN!

By the way, if you meet anyone (and you will) who is still on the fence about Global Climate Change, or openly poo-poos it, there are a couple simple ways to either open their minds or shut their yaps, both generally desireable outcomes. It's true: the science Gore presented in his movie and book has possible flaws in it, he is a politician, scientists are motivated to stir up fears for grant money, and climate change is scientifically unproveable anyway. But those points are pointedly irrelevant. Two realities make them so.

First, if the cause and effect relationships associated between emissions and climate change are unknown and Global Warming is unproven, then the dictates of common sense greatly favor conservatism in policy-setting, not radical optimism. Not having any policy at all is radical optimism, and that could get us killed because we're playing dice with the fate of our species while in a state of ignorance. Conservatism would be all for keeping the atmosphere the way it is, even for trying to set the clock back a bit. Second, when you burn a carbon-based material, you create waste products like CO2. Carbon dioxide goes up into the atmosphere. Too much carbon dioxide is the signature of a dead planet. Mars, for example, has plenty of it. As Elton John notes in his song Rocket Man, "Mars ain't the place to raise your fact, it's cold as hell."

If Gore announces his candidacy, his only viable competitor will be Barack Obama, whom he would gladly name as running mate. Yes, this is wishful thinking, but it would be both a brilliant way of bringing in the man with the magic and domestic policy passion and gain a bullet-proof vest at the same time. If some redneck hopped up on Rush Limbaugh were to shoot Gore, they would then have to endure the humiliation of seeing America's first black President. And we wouldn't want that, would we? Heavens, no.

Wishful thinking. I can already hear what the pundits would call a Gore-Obama ticket: Go-Bama. I checked the web sites for registration. They're already taken. And I'm hardly the only one wishing: there are a whole passel of people discussing the same thing over at right now.

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