After Tuesday’s shocking beat-down of Democrats in special elections, conventional political wisdom is that President Barack Obama is the most toxic political name that can be attached to a candidate’s political aspirations or a specific political cause. On Wednesday evening Al Gore did his best to dispel that conventional political wisdom, reminding Americans that nobody can annoy and alienate people through name-calling, condescension, misrepresentation of facts, and paranoid conspiracy theories quite like Al.
In “24 Hours of Climate Reality,” first airing Wednesday at 8:00 pm Eastern Time, Gore presented an hour-long sequel to his disastrous “An Inconvenient Truth,” followed by 23 hours of semi-reruns of essentially the same presentation. By hour three, it felt like being stuck in the Twilight Zone forced to watch 24 straight hours of the same Family Matters/Urkel rerun on the WB – only worse. At least Urkel is annoying and mildly amusing on purpose; Al is these things by accident.
Gore and his new presentation served up the usual taken-out-of-context anecdotal climate anomalies and appeals to polarizing, discredited sources of alleged authority to argue humans are causing a global warming crisis.
So what happens when scientists report global soil moisture has improved throughout the 20th century and droughts have become less frequent and less severe? No worry, Al Gore can find someplace where there still is a drought and then claim global warming is to blame. Sweep those facts about improving soil moisture and fewer global droughts under the rug.
How do we account for the fact that global hurricane frequency is in long-term decline? No worry, Al Gore can highlight some of the fewer hurricanes that still do occur and claim they were parented by global warming. Heck, Gore can even claim global warming is making them stronger, even though there is no long-term trend in accumulated cyclone energy. If Gore can make the presentation “Hollywood” enough, perhaps people will forget to check the facts.
Except there’s a problem here, Al; people do check the facts. It’s no coincidence that public belief in a human-caused global warming crisis peaked in 2008, shortly after Gore released “An Inconvenient Truth.” But public opinion also plunged dramatically in the years thereafter. If you claim global warming is causing more hurricanes, more tornadoes, more droughts, a shut-down of the oceanic conveyor belt, etc., but none of these claims are supported by real-world facts, people begin to realize that you are selling snake oil.
It also helps if you don’t go out of your way to be politically partisan. Gore showed and quoted several Republican politicians and subjected them to ridicule, while not showing or quoting any Democratic skeptics. That is really going to convince people of your objectivity and lack of ulterior motives, Al.
Three of the more amusing aspects of Gore’s presentation were Mother Nature and Truther-like conspiracy theories.
Mother Nature, as has become common practice since Gore began giving public presentations, reminded us that Al can run but he cannot hide from the Gore Effect. At the same time the Gore presentation prepared to hit the air, record cold and below-freezing temperatures were forecast overnight in much of the Midwest, despite the fact that we are still in summer. Adding insult to injury, forecasters expected rare summer snows to fall overnight in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado.
Delving into the land of tin foil-lined baseball hats and Martians speaking to us through television static, Gore’s presentation claimed super-secret memos from folks like the Koch brothers are responsible for the American public’s ever-increasing skepticism.