Al Gore

“Do I derange you?”
Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage.

Gore’s Nobel certainly brought out the mouthbreathers, but it also inspired some insightful commentary, some of it, mercifully, not about its effects on the presidential race. Most commentators did, however, find it difficult to avoid the Bush/Gore comparison.

Here’s a sample of some of the better stuff I’ve found around the tubes.

Paul Krugman on Gore Derangement Syndrome:

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What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

But Gore hatred is more than personal. When National Review decided to name its anti-environmental blog Planet Gore, it was trying to discredit the message as well as the messenger. For the truth Mr. Gore has been telling about how human activities are changing the climate isn’t just inconvenient. For conservatives, it’s deeply threatening.

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Which brings us to the biggest reason the right hates Mr. Gore: in his case the smear campaign has failed. He’s taken everything they could throw at him, and emerged more respected, and more credible, than ever. And it drives them crazy.

Steve Clemons on how this will create an "interesting and creative tension" between Gore and the next Democratic president, which is probably Hillary:

Gore actually has a huge global following now on climate change policy — and Hillary Clinton, if elected, is going to need his approval and support, though it’s going to be painful (on occasion) for her to ask for it. Gore’s not the easiest guy in the world to work with.

But at the same time, Gore knows he needs a strategic, capable thinker who can push forward hard-to-digest legislative imperatives in the White House — and if he’s not in favor with Hillary Clinton (if she’s got the keys to 1600), then his efforts are going to significantly suffer.

Bryan Walsh on why Gore should run:

… Gore is wrong. Climate change absolutely is a political issue, the greatest political issue of our time, and it will only be solved in the political arena, with all the mess and compromise that entails. Environmentalists hate to hear this; they think that global warming is so important it should transcend politics, as the IPCC does, and as Gore himself has in many ways these past seven years. But the final war on global warming will be fought not with PowerPoint but with politics, and it will be fought in the halls of power around the world. The scientists represented by the IPCC have spoken — what we need now are passionate, even partisan political soldiers to lead the way and push the final tipping point from awareness to action.

I can think of a pretty good general.

Alex Steffen on where this leaves the green movement:

Concern for the planetary future is now as credible as it is possible to get. The beginning of the struggle to save ourselves from ecological catastrophe has come to an end and we can begin to see the outlines of the next stage of the struggle.

Up to now, we have been a movement whose purpose was to raise awareness of the dangers of a broken future; education and persuasion will continue to be part of our job, but now our central mission must evolve into creating a networked movement of people and institutions who are working together to imagine, describe, plan and build a sustainable society. We have shown people the need for change; now we need to become capable of mass-producing it. Our business now is vision.

James Fallows on the attacks that greeted another Nobel Peace Laureate:

I am old enough to remember, from my school years, the disdainful reaction in my home town to the news that Martin Luther King had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. … the stated form of the objection concerned not King’s race but his obnoxiousness as a man. He was a windbag. He was pompous and self-dramatizing, He was holier than thou. Plus, he had started getting involved where he didn’t belong, in raising questions about the Vietnam War. … in retrospect the criticisms of King look very small, and — without equating the stature of the two men — I think something similar will be true regarding Gore.

Jon Chait on the inverse correlation between Gore and Bush fortunes:

It’s not an accident that the current celebrations of Gore come at a time when Bush’s popularity has cratered. Once conservatives mocked Gore as the radical tribune of a tiny political fringe; now it is they who represent the fringe.

The Mustache of Understanding on the increasingly sharp contrast between Gore and Bush:

Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush each faced a crucible moment. For Mr. Gore, it was winning the popular vote and having the election taken away from him by a Republican-dominated Supreme Court. For Mr. Bush, it was the shocking terrorist attack on 9/11.

“Gore, even without the presidency, used all the modern tools of communication, the Internet, video and globalization to reach out and galvanize a global movement,” Mr. Rothkopf said. “Bush took the greatest platform in the world and dug himself a policy grave.”

Josh Marshall on that same contrast:

And yet this is a fitting bookend, with Gore receiving this accolade while the sitting president grows daily an object of greater disapproval, disapprobation and collective shame. And let’s not discount another benefit: watching the rump of the American right detail the liberal bias of the Nobel Committee and at this point I guess the entire world. Fox News vs. the world.

And not to forget what this award is about even more than Gore. If half of what we think we know about global warming is true, people will look back fifty years from now on the claims that "War on Terror" was the defining challenge of this century and see it as a very sick, sad joke — which rather sums up the Bush presidency.

Bob Herbert on why Gore won’t run:

Al Gore is a serious man confronted by a political system that is not open to a serious exploration of important, complex issues. He knows it.

“What politics has become,” he said, with a laugh and a tinge of regret, “requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I have found in short supply.”

Andy Revkin on the contrast between the two winners:

One winner, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks in the measured voice of peer-reviewed research and government negotiations. In four reports since 1990, the panel, led by Rajendra K. Pachauri, has always focused on the most noncontroversial findings. In 2001, it concluded, “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”

The other winner, former Vice President Al Gore, delivers brimstone-laden warnings of an unfolding “planetary emergency.” Mr. Gore has not shied from emphasizing the most emotionally potent though less certain consequences of warming like its link to hurricane intensity and rising sea levels.

And finally … though the Bushies are "happy" about Gore’s win, they’ve still found a way to stay classy:

Over the course of the last year, George W. Bush has offered his personal congratulations to the 2007 Presidential Scholars, the Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts, the 2007 Scripps Spelling Bee champion, the owner of the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals, the NBA champion Miami Heat, the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes and the NCAA champions from 21 universities.

So, a reporter asked deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto today, will the president be calling Al Gore to congratulate him for winning the Nobel Peace Prize? Fratto’s response: "I don’t know of any plans to make calls to any of the winners at this point."