There’s an uncommonly good interview with Al Gore over at Rolling Stone. There are almost too many juicy bits to excerpt. I’ll try to stick to stuff that we haven’t heard before.
Here’s one. He says: "I will make a prediction that within two years, Bush and Cheney themselves will change their position [on global warming]."
I’ve wondered about this myself. Public pressure is building up pretty rapidly on the issue. And once Bush and Cheney unambiguously acknowledge the problem, the range of meaningless, corporate-donor-friendly responses is fairly limited. They might actually have to do something real. That’s if they acknowledge the issue. Can they fight off the pressure for 2.5 more years? Once I would have said No, but I’m through underestimating the toxic mix of malignity and delusion at work in this administration.
Gore also has some insights on Bush’s 2000 campaign pledge to regulate CO2 as a pollutant:
I thought it was fraudulent. I actually did not anticipate that he would directly and brazenly break that pledge, and go 180 degrees in the opposite direction at full speed, but I thought that he would slow-walk it and make it meaningless. They were trying to drain the moral energy out of an issue that they felt could hurt them if the public perceived a clear contrast on the issue.
Did it seem like a smart move, strategically, at that point?
Well, if you define the word "smart" in an antiseptic and clinical way that excludes any ethical dimension, then, yeah, I guess it was smart. Smart, if you’re willing to say things that you know are not true. But that’s what Karl Rove is known for. Bush’s whole pose as a compassionate conservative was fraudulent. His budget was fraudulent. Even the idea that he would be staunchly opposed to nation building was fraudulent. I don’t mean that he actually knew at the time of the campaign that he was going to invade Iraq — because I don’t think Cheney had told him yet [laughs]. But the statement on global warming, and the specific pledge to reduce CO2 emissions with the force of law, was part of a larger pattern. He was completely fraudulent from head to toe.
Say what you really mean, Al!
He also addresses peak oil and tar sands:
It’s a sophisticated debate between the geologists on one side and the economists on the other. But the debate over oil reserves misses the point. We have more than enough oil, not to mention coal, to completely destroy the habitability of the planet. The real constraint on oil and coal is not supply, but global warming. …
The fact that oil is beginning to get more expensive more quickly will contribute to the realization of how dysfunctional our current pattern is. Take the tar sands of western Canada. For every barrel of oil they extract there, they have to use enough natural gas to heat a family’s home for four days. And they have to tear up four tons of landscape, all for one barrel of oil. It is truly nuts. But you know, junkies find veins in their toes. It seems reasonable, to them, because they’ve lost sight of the rest of their lives.
I love this answer to the inevitable, irksome "what can I do?" question:
OK, say you’re the guy making that call. What do you ask us to do — trade in our cars and buy a hybrid?
Here’s the essence of our problem: Right now, the political environment in the country does not support the range of solutions that have to be introduced. The maximum you can imagine coming out of the current political environment still falls woefully short of the minimum that will really solve the crisis. But that’s just another way of saying we have to expand the limits of the possible. And that’s the main reason that I made this movie — because the path to a solution lies through changing the minds of the American people. Not just on the facts — they’re almost there on the facts — but in the sense of urgency that’s appropriate and necessary. Once that happens, then things that seem impossible now politically are going to be imperative. I believe there is a hunger in the country to be part of a larger vision that changes the way we relate to the environment and the economy. Right now we are borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the most unstable region of the world, and to bring it here and burn it in ways that destroy the habitability of the planet. That is nuts! We have to change every aspect of that.
In other words, what you can do is demand systemic, fundamental change from your political representatives. Absent that, your light bulbs are meaningless.
I think he’s right about this, too:
I talked to a CEO of one of the ten largest companies in the United States, who supported Bush and Cheney. He told me, "Al, let’s be honest. Fifteen minutes after George Bush leaves the presidency, America is going to have a new global-warming policy, and it doesn’t matter who’s elected." And I think that the smartest CEOs, even in places like Exxon-Mobil, now understand that the clock is ticking, and the world is changing, and the United States is not going to be able to continue living in this little bubble of unreality.
And finally, I think this is exactly the right answer for Dems to give when they’re pestered endlessly about their "plan" for getting out of Iraq:
We’re all, in some ways, lashed to the mast of our ship of state here. Because the little group at the helm should resign. You know, Rumsfeld and that whole gang have made horrible mistake after horrible mistake, and yet Bush continues to keep them in charge. How do the rest of us play a responsible role in advising the group in the White House that doesn’t want to hear what any of us say in any case?
Exactly. Why should anybody put forward a plan or advice to an administration that has shown outside experts nothing but utter contempt for years?