Al Gore’s Film Brings Threat
(guest post by Taylor Marsh)
I had a completely different post planned, but on the news of Pennsylvania’s worst flooding in 200 years, and flood warnings for upstate New York, as well as my own environmental tragedy last night, I decided to share with you something Al Gore said to a bunch of progressive bloggers on a recent conference call. It’s going to make you mad, because when one Republican helped out Al Gore he was threatened.
First, let’s get something straight. The climate crisis is real. Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" lays out the science of it, even if the wingnuts are walking away from the facts as fast as they can. The threats and attacks against Gore and people like Robert Redford’s Apollo Alliance are all about politics, because Republicans put party before the people every time. I happened to meet Redford in D.C. recently (both of us having very bad hair days due to rain), because he asked for a special blogger forum to talk about climate crisis. He, too, is involved with Gore’s film. Along with Gore and Redford, we also have John Kerry speaking out on energy independence, which he has done many times before. Front and center in this fight is ExxonMobil, whose policies Gore described in our call as the "worst" of the anti climate crisis crusaders.
PERHAPS THE MOST SURPRISING aspect of ExxonMobil’s support of the think tanks waging the disinformation campaign is that, given its close ties to the Bush administration (which cited “incomplete” science as justification to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol), it’s hard to see why the company would even need such pseudo-scientific cover. In 1998, Dick Cheney, then CEO of Halliburton, signed a letter to the Clinton administration challenging its approach to Kyoto. Less than three weeks after Cheney assumed the vice presidency, he met with ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond for a half-hour. Officials of the corporation also met with Cheney’s notorious energy task force.
ExxonMobil’s connections to the current administration go much deeper, filtering down into lower but crucially important tiers of policymaking. For example, the memo forwarded by Randy Randol recommended that Harlan Watson, a Republican staffer with the House Committee on Science, help the United States’ diplomatic efforts regarding climate change. Watson is now the State Department’s “senior climate negotiator.” Similarly, the Bush administration appointed former American Petroleum Institute attorney Philip Cooney—who headed the institute’s “climate team” and opposed the Kyoto Protocol—as chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In June 2003 the New York Times reported that the CEQ had watered down an Environmental Protection Agency report’s discussion of climate change, leading EPA scientists to charge that the document “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus.”
As the World Burns, by Chris Mooney
"The difference between being #1 and #2 pushes buttons for me." – Al Gore (during conference call)
Not surprisingly, Gore’s being hit very hard, with Republican operatives from all corners challenging the science in his film. Too bad Gore’s facts are correct. But wait until you hear what happened when Gore first offered to screen the movie for Congress.
During the call, I asked if "An Inconvenient Truth" had been screened for Congress, because Gore clearly wanted to reach across to Republicans so they would come to see the film and understand the urgency of our situation. Gore said Senator Harry Reid offered to shut down Senate business so everyone could see it. None of the Republicans showed up. I was thinking maybe we could put pressure on the anti-science – Flat Earth Republicans, if Gore offered a screening on the Hill. Maybe progressive constituents of Republicans could flood their offices demanding their Congressperson see the film. That’s when Gore told his tale.
A couple of years ago Gore presented a slide show revolving around climate crisis for the Science Committee and the Committee on Energy & Commerce. The Democrats showed up. But something amazing happened. Not only did Republicans not show up, but one of the Republican House members was threatened for helping Gore out. It wasn’t just any House member either.
Republican Representative Sherry Boehlert, as Gore called him, is Chairman of the Science Committee and he is retiring from Congress. He is a strong believer in global warming. It’s real and he knows it and said so again on CNN recently. Well, back when Gore put together his briefing for Congress, Boehlert let Gore use the Science Committee room for his presentation. For his efforts Boehlert was threatened with losing his chairmanship. The Hammer came down.
Nothing has changed but who’s holding the hammer.
I’d like to get another screening invitation of Gore’s movie sent out to Congress. But would the Republicans show up?
I think some voters might care if their Republican representative or senator wanted their city to go by way of New Orleans. After all, you might not be threatened with hurricanes, but clean air, clean water and a melting planet effects everyone and the Republicans don’t seem to care as long as Exxon-Mobil and others put money into their campaign coffers.
If you’re reading this, Mr. Gore, send out another invitation to Congress. I’ll back you up and I bet a lot of other progressives will too.