Al Gore

A Gore conservatives could love?
Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage.

One of the stranger things I sometimes read about Al Gore is that because he is so partisan, because he turns off a certain bloc of the U.S. public, he is flawed as a leader on climate change. Surely the issue deserves a prophet that’s not so sullied by politics!

This seems confused.

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In terms of spreading awareness and generating pressure behind a response, Gore has done more than anybody in the world on this issue, by a quantum leap. If there are leaders in the wings with the potential to be both effective and universally beloved, what the hell are they waiting for?

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Perhaps such leaders have not emerged because the partisanship is, as it were, baked in. As I said back here, Gore only looks divisive from inside the fishbowl of our dopey public discourse. He is widely respected abroad. The right wing dead-ender 30% slime him, yes. But are we seriously to believe that if another figure — one with no political history — came along and tried to mobilize the public behind an aggressive policy approach that included a carbon tax, a moratorium on new coal plants, and a target of 90% CO2 reductions by 2050, that person would escape sliming?

The fact is, a credible response to climate change threatens the financial interests of certain wealthy corporate Republican backers. Defense of those interests is the fundamental animating principle of U.S. movement conservatism. It’s a structural issue, not one specific to Gore. The dead enders hate Gore, yes. But they can be made to hate anyone; it’s their stock in trade.

While we’re in the neighborhood, let’s address the oft-repeated incantation that we must "make climate change a bipartisan issue." I’m all for making climate change a bipartisan issue, but, um … why you looking at me? Why is it that greens and progressives are targeted for these lectures? They’re the ones on board.

If you’ve got a passenger on board and one lounging on the dock, here’s a thought: Go yell at the guy on the dock. The rest of us are ready to sail.

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