Comfortable and Furious


by Paul Fallon

Why does Michael Moore support Al Gore? Moore’s movies bravely take on the media establishment, piercing false assumptions and telling unpopular stories that need to be told. Predictably, he is vilified for doing so. Nevertheless, he attacks when given a chance, as when he recently laid it on the line with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, asking, “Why don’t you tell the truth to the American people? I mean, I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what’s going on in this country, whether it’s with health care — I don’t care what it is. I mean, you guys have such a poor track record. And I’m just curious when are you going to just stand there and apologize to the American people for not bringing the truth to them that isn’t sponsored by some major corporation?” Right on, Mike!

But then Moore starts blabbering about how he hopes Al Gore will get in the 2008 presidential race. “Of course, Moore said, “there’s one candidate who isn’t even in the race yet. I don’t know if he will be. But he was right about the war before it began, and he’s right about global warming, and he’s right on this (health-care) issue, too.”

Does Gore deserve the kind of respect he’s been getting from the left, or is he more deserving of the contempt that Moore leveled at Wolf Blitzer?

Aside from being the victim of an electoral tragedy in 2000, Gore’s global-warming platform gives him instant credibility with the left. Should it? He’s supposed to have been talking about the environment for a long time (30 years, he has said), but has he been walking the walk? Will Al Gore, like his supporter Moore, attack when given the chance? The answer is no, he won’t. Eric Pooley’s homage to Gore in Time magazine, “The Last Temptation of Al Gore,” points out that it wasn’t until after the 2000 election disaster that Gore got back into the environment:

“It has been five years since Tipper first urged her husband to dust off his slideshow. The couple was still climbing from the wreckage of 2000, and she was convinced that his survival depended on reconnecting with his core beliefs. He assembled the earliest slide show in 1989, while writing Earth in the Balance — carrying an easel to a dinner party at David Brinkley’s house, standing on a chair to show CO2 emissions heading off the charts. She wanted him to find that passion again. They were living in Virginia, and the Kodak slides were gathering dust in the basement. So he pulled them out, arranged them in the carousel and gave his first show with the images mostly backward and upside down.”

So what happened to Gore’s “core beliefs” and “passion” when he was fucking right next to the sanctified bully pulpit in the White House? He went AWOL on climate change while he was vice president, and as much as tells why in a recent Associated Press article, “On Board the Acela Express.” The piece notes that “Gore, whose slideshow on global warming was the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ said the presidency alone can’t necessarily bring about the changes he’s calling for.” The story quotes Gore: “I was in the White House for eight years, and I saw the limitations of even the power of the executive branch when the people and their elected representatives in the Congress were not ready to contemplate the big changes that are necessary.” So exactly what are those limitations, and what was Al Gore doing to overcome them? Did a corporate fat cat get your tongue, Al?

It should be noted that Gore is himself a corporate fat cat. He is currently a senior advisor at Google (and apparently owns a large chunk of its stock), is on the board of directors at Apple and is co-founder of an investment company called Generation Investment Management. The investment company has holdings in the Johnson & Johnson health insurer AFLAC and General Electric. And take a peek at the corporate sponsorship list for the Live Earth concerts if you want to see who Al hangs with in the corporate world.

So Gore may have been talking about the environment for years, but while he was VP, he kept his mouth shut. Why didn’t he use his position to get out in front on the issue? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical now to chide the political class for not being able to get the message out about climate change when he failed so miserably in doing so? No, you see, it wasn’t Al’s fault; it was the system. But hey, now he’s authored a new book to explain that, too. His new bestseller carries a title as mighty as it is derivative of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason; it’s called The Assault on Reason.

“This book bubbled up because of my growing concern that in order to solve the climate crisis, we are going to have to address the problems in the foundations of our democracy that have kept us from acting on the basis of clear evidence that this crisis is real,” Gore told Larry King on the same channel. “And when I was out talking so much about the climate crisis, and trying to get what I thought was the appropriate response, the country had a discussion, not really a debate, about the invasion of Iraq, a country that did not attack us. And what the climate crisis and the invasion of Iraq have in common, Larry, is in both cases the policies are badly mistaken, and in both cases, the evidence is available, overwhelming evidence to convince any reasonable person ahead of time that we should have done the opposite of what we did. And so this book addresses the question, what is it that so many millions of Americans feel has gone wrong with our country? How can we fix it? How can we bring the people back into our democracy and start making better decisions on the basis of the evidence at hand?”

So Gore’s book not only tells us of the failure of the country to seriously assess the truth about Iraq or global warming but implies that the failure of Al Gore to open his trap while he was vice president wasn’t his fault. The flawed people responsible for our democracy made him do it, or not do it as the case may be. Our democracy is broken, and Al Gore wants to fix it by getting people to tell the truth. Wonderful.

So when King asks about the Democrats’ failure to force a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq, you’d think as a newfound critic of politics as usual Gore would comment on how they chickened out politically — that they could have defunded the war. You’d have thought wrong. In defense of the Dems, Gore said, “You know, the tools that are available to the legislative branch of government are not always very precise. They are often blunt instruments. And they passed a measure that would have required a timetable. The president vetoed it. They were not able to override the veto. So their options have been sharply limited.” Sure, limited to refusing to pass the appropriations bill, which would have required backbone.

Gore continued, “I have a lot of confidence in Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and rest of the leadership in the House and Senate now. And I’m sure that they have made some good decisions here.” Gore can scold his readers about failing to get the truth out, but when asked a question on national television, when he had an opportunity to be the role model for unintimitated reason we desperately need, someone to be honest about what is going on and what is not, he defaults to the tried and true talk of a party operative. Gore is so wedded to the political buddy system that when King asked if he was “disappointed” that his former running mate Joe Lieberman supported a war that Gore found so blatantly dumb and wrong, Gore said, “Well, why would you use a word like that where a friend is concerned? We have had our disagreements, and I have stated them. But I would not apply that to a friend.”

Take that, all people who think Gore gives a shit. What’s a little Middle East war among friends? Hey, Gore’s such a good friend that you can senselessly wipe out almost a million people, and the word “disappointed” is too strong for him.

So when Gore has to tell Larry King what is really wrong with the system, it’s not the fault of the people involved; it is that system that is corrupting them. He panders to King and the mainstream media in general, saying, “I think that both politicians and journalists are now the best educated, the best prepared of any prior generation with the exception of the generation of our founders, which was just an extraordinary collection of individuals that were true geniuses. But I think that there are among the politicians today a lot of good people trapped in a bad system. And what they find is the necessity to rely on these 30-second television commercials and the manipulative emotion-based messages instead of a reasoned argument. And when you combine that with the media’s emphasis on things like the horse race and how somebody combs his hair or whether some word was used in an awkward way, the net result is that the American people don’t have a chance to join the conversation and what they get thrown at them is trivialities and banalities.” While the idea that the American public is obsessed with the trivialities that the entertainment industry shits daily, Gore should recognize the chicken-and-egg dynamic of this hypothesis. Yet the idea of the public being duped into this media fog is absent. He seems completely unable to conceive that our system of selling consumers a lifestyle that is directly linked to corporate America is at all complicit in the loss of a democratic forum. I find especially odious Gore’s fawning worship of our founding fathers as “extraordinary” and “geniuses.” What kind of intellect could make that argument with a straight face? It’s a fucking childish vision of infallible parental love.

The bottom line is that when asked on television to challenge the status quo, Gore can’t. He may write some challenging things in a book, but big fucking deal! What book has had an impact in the last 20 years? This is America. What is a book going to do that years of living in this society and just seeing what is in front of your face every day in every aspect of your life not been able to change? What counts is what he does on TV. What’s he going to do in the media ring of public approval?

Then there was is Live Earth concerts — now that’s supposed to mean something. I could only stomach watching bits and pieces, like The Police doing a god-awful “Message in a Bottle” with overrated brat John Mayer making it sound worse. Then Lenny Kravitz running through the crowd while playing “Let Love Rule” (or something) making a spectacle for no apparent reason other than to stroke Lenny Kravitz’s fat ego. The whole thing was a pathetic display of feel good activism and spoiled narcissism.

The bottom line is that Al Gore is still playing the political game. He might be complaining about global warming and the lack of logic in the political system, but he is still sucking up to the people that run the world and that means he thinks more about his career, his pocketbook and possibly his place in history that he does speaking truth to power. He’s nothing more than a self-promoting preacher trying desperately to justify some favorable assessment from the court of public opinion. Gore is no doubt a fan of the “greed is good” ethic afflicting the masters of the universe, who he aspires to be in league with. I bet he has conceived of posters for a distant election when he runs for president of the world.

I’ve despised Al Gore since before he bailed after the 2000 election and failed to demand that the disenfranchising of African American voters in Florida in the 2000 election was a crime that needed to be investigated and prosecuted. The fact that he comes off as an annoying dufus might be a problem for some but it isn’t really relevant. The fact is that he is a fucking humongous hypocrite (figuratively and literally). So what if he thinks he is a lot smarter than he is, most of us, especially politicians, suffer from that delusion. At this stage in his political career, however, he should be pissed off and act the part. Instead he seems to be little more than a suckup to the status quo even if his issues are slightly more appealing to the left of the political spectrum.

From a particularly gag-inducing section of the Time magazine feature, there is one more bit of damning evidence:

“Al Gore and I settle down on the patio, near the swimming pool and the barbecue. ‘Did some grilling last night with my friend Jon Bon Jovi,’ he says. ‘His new record is great.’ He props his black cowboy boots on a brightly painted folk-art coffee table, scratches his mutt Bojangles behind the ears and talks about The Assault on Reason.”

A guy who likes Bon Jovi cannot be trusted. Al Gore likes to play it safe, even with rock and roll. It’s fine to play it safe with the environment, but he seems more concerned with Al Gore than any environment. And in times like these, we need somebody willing to take real tough action: and put himself in a position that will truly get the attention of the public that means kicking ass and taking names, not kissing ass and dropping names.