Summary: It has been 30 years since Al Gore was transformed from forgettable U.S. senator and presidential also-ran into an influential and enduring climate alarmist cultural icon. He has won an Oscar and even the Nobel Peace Prize for being reliably wrong on energy policy, hurricanes, and most anything else of consequence. The corporate media cannot get enough of his bad advice, but U.S. policy has mostly been steered to a smarter course. Germany’s dangerously clumsy reliance on Russian gas today is a look into a dark future of energy poverty that a President Gore could have inflicted on America.
In the summer of 1992, an otherwise formulaic U.S. senator of average impact and influence published Earth in the Balance, a climate policy book that landed on the best seller list. The book helped land its author, U.S. Sen. Al Gore Jr. (D-TN), the veep spot on Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential ticket.
Just try to name another vice president who didn’t become president, yet kept his name on the front page? After his inauguration as vice president in January 1993, Gore began what is now a 30-year run as an influential cultural lighting rod. Prior to that, the son of former U.S. Sen. Al Gore Sr. (D-TN) had done little more than literally inherit the name of the family business.
In 1976, Al Jr. won a seat from Tennessee in the U.S. House. In 1984, during an open race with no incumbent for one of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seats, no other Democrat even bothered to challenge the “Al Gore” name for the nomination. Gore went on to win easily in the general election.
By Christmas 1986, Gore the Elder was whispering into the ear of Al the Younger, telling him he would win the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. The son listened and got in the race.
Up through 1988, Gore had already spent most of his dozen years in DC trying to make climate policy a big issue for the nation and a political winner for himself. It didn’t catch on. During his 1988 presidential campaign, Gore was better known for holding hearings in support of his then-wife Tipper’s prudish and politically awkward crusade against dirty words in rock music lyrics.
Gore was still sufficiently unremarkable prior to his presidential run that authors of a January 1988 profile in the New York Times still felt the need to physically describe him to readers: “Mr. Gore is solidly built, dark and indisputably handsome.”
His presidential campaign was not so durably constructed and imploded three months later in late April 1988. Trailing badly, Gore lasted just 14 days longer than the otherwise forgettable U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL). A distant fourth place finisher, Simon was nobody’s idea of “dark and indisputably handsome.”
Nonetheless, by the end of 1988 Simon and Gore were looking equally unpresidential and forgettable. But just four years later Gore was rescued from history and on his way to being “just one heartbeat away” from the highest office.
As the iconic account of Gore’s climate creed, Earth in the Balance was eclipsed by the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth. The documentary narrated by Gore turbo-charged his post political career. It won an Academy Award for best documentary and an Emmy for best original song, and it helped Gore score a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
A lot of what we know of Gore’s climate beliefs over the past three decades comes from this excessively prized film.
Early in the performance, Gore quoted a warning from Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
By that standard, Gore has been well-equipped to get into a lot of trouble.
“I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next president of the United States,” said Gore, early in An Inconvenient Truth, to adoring laughter and applause.
This was a reference to the 2000 presidential election when Democratic nominee Gore lost the state of Florida—and thus the White House—by 537 votes to Republican George W. Bush. As the votes were being counted on Election Night, Gore initially conceded the presidency to Bush.
But as Bush’s reported margin of victory in Florida narrowed, Gore called back to announce he had changed his mind. An incredulous Bush reportedly asked: “You mean to tell me, Mr. Vice President, you’re retracting your concession?”
During the ensuing weeks of recounts, it was revealed that Floridians using paper punch ballots didn’t always do a nifty job of fully punching through the paper to indicate their vote preference. This allegedly fouled up the ballot-reading scanners.
In their theory of the case, Gore partisans seemed to argue that Florida Democrats were disproportionately incompetent at punching holes in paper and that jurisdictions disproportionately run by Democratic voters were particularly incapable of counting votes correctly.
Gore’s joke at the start of An Inconvenient Truth demonstrates the degree to which he had not moved past this theory and the belief he would have won if we had just kept recounting Florida.
Today, it is common for the corporate media to refer to these delusions as “election denial,” but they leave out references to Gore.
Back in late 2000, Bush’s lead still held up after 36 days. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered Florida to cease its investigation into whether the state’s Democrats were less competent voters, and Gore criticized the High Court’s decision, but grudgingly accepted defeat a second time.
The same general joke about the vote count in the 2000 election is repeated a second time by Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, this time regarding the counting of glaciers at Glacier National Park.
“Within 15 years this will be the park formerly known as Glacier,” Gore tells the audience.
The keepers of the park even agreed at some point or other. They affixed signs telling tourists to say “Goodbye to Glaciers” and that “Computer models indicate the glaciers will all be gone by the year 2020.”
But Gore’s 15-year prophesy about the glaciers expired quietly in 2021. The 2021 visits to Glacier National Park exceeded each of the previous five years. The glaciers were still there.
“At the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, there were about 80 glaciers in what would eventually become Glacier National Park,” proclaims the official park website today. “Based on aerial imagery from 2015 there were 26 named glaciers that met the size criteria of 0.1 km², nine fewer than in 1966.”
By January 2020 Glacier National Park’s “say goodbye to the glaciers” signs had been sheepishly replaced with carefully vague warnings that the glaciers are indeed shrinking and will one day vanish. The park website blames human impact for some of the loss, but of course not all. The name of the park is still the same and the official website warns prospective visitors to expect “about three million people visiting during each summer season.”
Glacier National Park’s website also says the “onset of a warming trend” at the end of that Little Ice Age caused the glaciers to begin their retreat and that their continued pace of decline is “due to both natural and human-caused climate change.”
The end of an ice age, little or otherwise, is an unpleasant development for glaciers. Somewhere between 7,000 and 32,000 years ago the bodies of water currently known as the Great Lakes were created from what were formerly known as glaciers.
The man who thinks he used to be the next president was wrong about the park that would be formerly known as Glacier. The decline of the glaciers at the eponymously named national park is inevitable, someday. But the alarmist catastrophe portrayed in An Inconvenient Truth was a convenient and alarmist deception.
In the next installment, the snows of Kilimanjaro defy Al Gore’s prophecies of doom.