The place is packed—sold out, SRO… except, of course, for the press seats, which are roomy. Seattle’s blog elite is here: David Postman from the Seattle Times, Dan Gonsiorowski from Seattlest, Goldy from HorsesAss, Northwest Progressive (also live-blogging), and others.
Gore is going to speak for a half an hour, and take a few questions, and then sign copies of his new book, The Assault on Reason. He won’t be signing any memorabilia, we’re told, just his new book. As soon as Gore is on I’ll start typing like mad. Hopefully he’ll announce that he’s running for president—and hopefully someone will ask him to if he doesn’t announce it during his speech.
Okay, Gore’s on. Standing ovation—naturally. After his opening remarks, thanks to Town Hall, Karen from Elliott Bay Books… Gore opens with…
“I’m a recovering politician, on about step nine. You win some, you lose some, and then there’s that little known third category.”
The big question: How thin does he look? Everyone seems to think that Gore’s weight is the chief indicator of his intentions—if he’s taking off the pounds, he’s running. If he’s still packing ‘em on, he’s not. Well, he looking thinner—much thinner, actually, than he has been recently. So he’s running, right? Well, maybe. He could be losing weight to keep his options open—he has to lose weight to keep his options open. Because Americans, as fat as we are, would sooner vote for an idiot anorexic than a beefy genius. Or something. Anyway, for all you Gore Weight Watchers, the former VP is lookin’ thin. Make of that what you will.
Al seems a little low on energy, and he’s hoarse—perhaps he’s book-tour hoarse. But the crowd is eating him up, laughing at jokes they no doubt heard in An Inconvenient Truth, and on Letterman, and SNL. We’re getting the enviro chunk of Gore stump speech, for openers, all about climate change. But it’s well-rehearsed and, shit, in front of this crowd? Al Gore could lose control of his bowels and crap his pants and the place would go wild.
Okay, we’re on Iraq now.
“What do the climate crisis and the invasion of Iraq have in common? … We shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, we should respond to the climate crisis. We did the exact opposite, despite the evidence. Do the facts matter? Is the truth irrelevant? …. The idea that one can create one’s own reality—I understand the philosophy but it’s just wrong….
George Orwell [said] when leaders create their own realities they eventually have a collosion with reality, usually on the battle field.”
Six LaRouchies, everyone immediately presumes, dressed like Christmas elves or something just interrupted. No, wait. Their supposed to be those chanting monks from Monty Python and the Holy Grail—they’re chanting something and hitting themselves on their empty heads with their idiotic tracts.
“That’s the LaRouche cult,” says Gore, as Town Hall ushers rush them out of the auditorium, to applause. “For some reason they’ve taken a liking to me.”
Here’s a terrible picture of Gore…
We’ve got a photographer here, so we’ll have some decent pics later.
Okay, I love Al Gore… I want him to run for president… I’ve been a Gore/Obama man longer than just about anyone else out there. But I have to say: Gore seems exhausted. He’s on a book tour, and I know from personal experience that book tours can be exhausting. But anyone that came here tonight expecting a slashing, barn-burning, raise-the-roof, motherfucking speech is going to leave disappointed.
We’re on to the invention of human speech, the earliest attempts at communication, the flooding of the Nile, the invention of the printing press, the Protestant revolution, Copernicus, the movement of the planets…. Gore is walking us through the “evolution of communication systems” on his way to a no-doubt salient point about the how badly we need to evolve a “new information ecosystem.” It’s esoteric stuff… hard to tell how it’s going over… and I can’t keep up. And while the crowd is listening politely I can’t help but think they’re secretly hoping for another LaRouchie interruption.
“The migrants that came to North American brought the seeds of the Enlightenment to North Amiercan and planted them here…. Our founders designed a system that enabled individuals without wealth, without power, to use ideas and knowledge as a source of power to mediate between privledge and wealth.”
You can hear the LaRouchies singing outside the building.
“Before the Iraq war, 70% of people believed that we were attacked by Saddam Hussein.”
Saddam was getting uranium from Africa, making nuclear weapons, threatening to share them with his good friends in Al Qauda, mushroom clouds over American cities…
“None of that was true. But none of it was challenged to the point where it could no longer be used as the point for an invasion of Iraq. 150,000 American troops are still trapped in a civil war in Iraq. That was a big mistake. What this book is about is how we can avoid making more mistakes like that.”
We are in a bad state. Locking up American citizens without charges, torturing people, ignoring the climate crisis….
“Candidates gather on a stage and express their support for torture, and the audience applauds…. Who we are, as citizens of this country, depends not just on what we learn in school or what our parents teach us. It depends on how we communicate with one another. Whether we trust one another…. Whether we believe we have a shared obligation to seek out with each other, as best we can, the truth.”
Man, it’s hot in here. I’m sweating like a pig and I’m wearing a t-shirt. Gore must be dying up there.
“We have to dis-enthrall ourselves and shed the illusions that people urge upon us because [they] feel the truth is our enemy…. We have to tend to the cracks in the foundation of our democracy.”
The press has been corrupted by the profit motive, our leaders are corrupt, radio was exploited by fascists, and television is just fucking toxic—but the Internet, man, the Internet! So long as we keep it free, and we simply must fight corporate and political efforts to constrain the Internet or seize control of the Internet. We have to fight it as passionately as our founders fought to protect the freedom of the press.
I’m not being snarky in the above graph—I agree with everything Gore is saying.
“The survival of American democracy depends on protecting the freedom of the Internet.”
Agreed, Al, agreed.
Gore is wrapping up his remarks—having gone on a bit longer than his promised half hour. And he ends with a compliment, sucking up to the crowd…
“What a great city this is. You read, you think, you talk, you communicate. The rebellion lives… and one of the centers is right here.”
Okay, it’s question time!
First question: How do you argue with people who don’t believe in global warming?
Buy them my book, says Gore, buy them my movie.
Second question: Rupert Murdoch buying the Wall Street Journal, pro or con?
Kinda pro, kinda con. Hate the WSJ op-ed pages, love WSJ reporting.
Third question: Why so little movement on global warming during the Clinton administration?
I was vice-president, not president, and we lost control of Congress. And scientific consensus was far short of what it is today.
Fourth question: How do you change people’s actions and not just their minds?
Great question, says Gore. Uh… not really. Kind of a suck-ass question, actually, and not the question everyone wants to hear someone ask Gore. For fuck’s sake, someone just shout it out!
My god, is he wrapping up? Is no one going to ask him if he’s fucking run for president? Gore thanks us, waves, and strides from the stage! Fuck! No one asked! Christ! It’s all anyone cares about, it’s all anyone can talk about, and no one in this thinking, talking, communicating Seattle audience thought to ask Gore to communicate with us about the only thing anyone really wants to talk about? Jesus!God, I hate bullshit Seattle audience questions about chit-chatting with people who disagree with us about their feelings and changing hearts and minds and blah blah fuckin’ blah.
Sigh. What a waste—because I’m sure if someone had asked him, Gore would have announced his candidacy. Gore/Obama ‘08!
Okay, here’s two final craptastic pictures…
Al Gore brings it home at Town Hall tonight…
Al Gore signs some books…
Hopefully someone in the book-signing line thought to ask the man if he’s running for fucking president.
And that concludes our live-Slogging for this evening. Thank you and goodnight.
UPDATE: So after cleaning up this post and going downstairs… I saw that Gore was finishing up the signing line. He looked exhausted—the book tours, the heat, the wool suit. A couple of people told me excitedly that Gore is definitely dieting, and we all know what that means. Town Hall’s Susie Tennant handed me a book and Frizzelle and I joined the line at the end. Gore signed our books and when we asked him if he was going to run, Gore said…
I’m not going to reveal what Al Gore said. You can read about it in Frizzelle’s column this week. I can reveal, however, that while Al Gore was answering our question his eyes drifted down to my t-shirt…
…and Gore gave me a very queer look. Before I could say, “I voted for you and Bill in ‘96, Mr. Vice President,” Gore was up, out the door, whisked into a car, and quickly driven past a clump of die-hard LaDouchies.