A (Mostly) Warm Reception for Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ on the Hill

Gore tells Senate committee to put aside politics on climate change; warming critic Inhofe gets hot under the collar.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


It was a Democratic love fest on Capitol Hill yesterday when Al Gore came to testify about the “planetary emergency” caused by global warming before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, a bittersweet counterpoint to the ex-VP’s last appearance on the Hill, back in 2001 when he presided over the Congressional session confirming George Bush’s electoral victory. What a difference six years, and a pair of Academy Awards, makes: Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, in her opening statement, set the tone, gushing, “There are some moments in human history when individuals have the ability to make a difference and sometimes it’s the simple telling of a great truth, however inconvenient.”

When the Democrats took control of Congress in November of last year, environmentalists were ecstatic that a California conservationist would replace Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” as chair of the environmental committee. And none, perhaps, more than Gore, who told the senators that “it is hard to estimate the hope that people have because of what you are doing and what everyone hopes you will do.” Gore didn’t hold back in the rest of his testimony either, likening the United States’ approach to the planet to a “bull in a china shop,” and rattling off his recommended fixes, which include, among other things, an immediate freeze on carbon dioxide emissions.

Following Gore’s testimony came the part that everyone was waiting for, when he was questioned by his most persistent critic. Inhofe, author of “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism,” did not disappoint, peppering Gore with a round of rapid-fire and often hostile questions. Concerned that Gore would run out the clock with his “long-winded” responses, Inhofe demanded that he restrict his answers to either yes or no. When Gore attempted to diverge from the rules, Inhofe promptly cut him off. Boxer intervened, saying that she would be happy to stop the clock to allow Gore more time. Inhofe tried to protest, his face growing red, but Boxer coolly reminded him that he no longer made the rules: “You used to, when you did this. I make the rules [now].”

During the lightning round, Inhofe asked Gore — who last month had to admit to a home energy consumption of 20 times the average household’s — to make a personal pledge to consume no more energy than the average American household. Gore attempted to explain that he and his wife are using green energy and purchasing offsets to install solar panels, but Inhofe wasn’t interested. “I’ll take that as a no.” Not more than 20 minutes later, Inhofe’s staffers scurried around the press tables handing out a “press update” noting that Gore had refused to sign the pledge.

Amidst pointed questioning from the minority and effusive accolades from the Dems – “It’s not everyday that this committee has an Academy Award winner testifying,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn.) — committee members plugged their various global warming fixes. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) talked up the cap and trade bill that he is cosponsoring with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pitched the legislation that he is co-sponsoring with Boxer, which would “lower greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020 to 1990 levels,” by calling for a mandatory cap on greenhouse gases, and creating incentives for the development of cleaner technologies.

Although the partisan divide on this issue was quite evident, Gore implored the committee members to put politics aside. “This is not a partisan issue, it’s a moral issue,” he said. If nothing is done to combat global warming, he continued, his voice rising, the next generation will look back and ask, “What in God’s name were they doing?”

WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

payment methods

WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate