Of course, in the alternate universe where Gore won the 2000 election, 9/11 probably would have happened. But we probably wouldnt have diluted the war on terror by attacking Iraq or crippled our economy by taking on a mountain of debt. And Gore certainly would have recognized the danger posed by Hurricane Katrina. One thing for sure, George Bush wouldnt have gone on the road, night after night, to show Americans his elaborate multi-media pitch about the evils of global warming.
Most of us remember the 2000 presidential election ending with a disputed Florida vote count, where the Supreme Court ultimately determined the results. But the fact is that George Bush was close to Gore in the popular vote, because millions of Americans liked and trusted Dubya. Under the direction of the Machiavellian Karl Rove, the Bush campaign did a number on Al Gore. A lot of voters were put off by his personality. Americans bought the Bush campaigns claim that Gore was a liar; that he had boasted of inventing the Internet. On November 7, 2000, many Americans voted for George Bush believing that he was a good Christian man, who would usher in an era responsibility.
Sensing that it wasnt hanging chads that had defeated him, Gore left the political stage. But he didnt give up. After taking some time off, he returned to his original, heart-felt message, Our ability to live on planet earth is at stake.
After the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore never left town either. He embarked on a one-man crusade to wake up America to the perils of global climate change, a subject hed been interested in since his college days. He put together a multi-media presentation and schlepped it back and forth across the US. Gradually the presentation got better and attracted more attention. Eventually it became the subject of the movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
While well worth seeing, the documentary has problems. Its too long. How many times do we need to see Gore walking through airports or sitting in hotel rooms staring soulfully at his laptop computer? And it doesnt give viewers enough to do. Al refers them to www.climatecrisis.net , but he could have shown them whats being accomplished in green cities such as Curitiba, Brazil. And Gore misses an opportunity to lobby for collective action, the formation of a public-private partnership to address global warming.
Ultimately this is a film about the redemption of Al Gore. How he found moral clarity by standing alone. How Al became a modern Paul Revere traipsing through the US shouting, Disaster is coming.
In the process public perception changed and America grew fond of Gores wonkishness. Hes no longer labeled an enemy of the people. In fact, in some quarters hes become a kind of folk hero. There are whispers that if Hillary Clinton falters, wonk man might be drafted as the Democrats presidential candidate in 2008.
Theres been a reversal of fortune. Americans are waking up to discover that they made a bad mistake electing George Bush. That he cant be trusted and isnt even that likeable. That Dubya not only doesnt have a plan to solve Americas problems, he doesnt even recognize most of them. Rather than usher in an era of responsibility, hes championed an era of unbridled self-interest and shortsighted public policies. After five and a half years, its Bush whos become the enemy of the people.
On June 2nd An Inconvenient Truth opens nationwide.