Warming Trend

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 22, 2007; 7:38 AM

If you're Al Gore, you gotta be wondering: Now they like me?

Gore supporters are convinced that their man got a raw deal from the media in 2000. There was all that focus on his sighing, his makeup, his earth-tones wardrobe, his supposed invented-the-Internet type exaggerations. Some Gore advisers concede that he ran a flawed campaign, but still believe that the press held their candidate to a different standard than George W. Bush.

What a difference seven years and two Oscars make.

When the ex-veep testified on the Hill yesterday, he was trailed by hordes of reporters. His arrival was heralded by a front-page New York Times story on how he is "a heartbreak loser turned Oscar boasting Nobel hopeful globe trotting pop culture eminence." He even has a new nickname: the Goracle.

Boy, coverage like that could have gotten him those last three electoral votes last time.

The reason the star of "An Inconvenient Truth" is now treated as a visionary is because he's been trumpeting the dangers of global warming for two decades. Bush 41 called him "Ozone Man" back in '92. But now far more people are concerned about the ozone layer and melting icecaps, and Gore's moment seems to have arrived. Reporters even surrounded him--and Tipper--in the hallway for an impromptu presser.

Not everyone is going to agree with the 10-point plan that Gore presented yesterday to the House and Senate (he served in each chamber). Indeed, some of the Republicans were all over him. But the fact that his testimony drew some live TV coverage is a (forgive me) sea change in the way he, and the issue, are covered.

Of course--let's get real--it's the mere possibility that he might run for president again that is tantalizing the same media establishment that was long dismissive of Gore. In fact, many reporters seem to be rooting for Gore to jump in and ignoring his repeated denials that he has any such intention. But if he did take the leap, the honeymoon would end within nanoseconds.

"The crowd stirred in the House hearing room as the door opened, followed by a hush," says the Chicago Tribune. "In walked Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, both smiling and schmoozing. For a moment, they were the object of one fixed, collective gaze. It marked a triumphal return for the couple, but especially for the former vice president."

"It was part science class, part policy wonk heaven, part politics and all theater as former Vice President Al Gore came to Congress today to insist that global warming constitutes a 'planetary emergency' requiring an aggressive federal response," says the NYT.

But some lawmakers were rather chilly: "In the Senate, it was a different matter. Senator James Inhofe or Oklahoma, the ranking Republican member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, adopted a pugilistic stance, challenging the vice president's analysis of climate change's dangers from hurricanes and melting ice in Antarctica.

" 'It is my perspective that your global warming alarmist pronouncements are now and have always been filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements,' Mr. Inhofe said. He then estimated the cost of proposals to reduce emission of heat-trapping gases at $300 billion and said: 'The poor pay for it and the science isn't there. We just can't do that to America, Mr. Vice President. And we're not going to.' "

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