An Inconvenient Truth Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

It was a big night for Al Gore at the Academy Awards. After appearing earlier in the show to tease the audience about making an announcement, Al Gore returned to the stage to accept an Oscar for best documentary. Ellen DeGeneres also referred to Gore at the start of the show, saying “And then, Al Gore is here, America did vote for him, and then — [applause] Very complicated.” (Videos from Think Progress.) In accepting the award, Gore said,

My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis.
It’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started with the possible exception of the will to act. That’s a renewable resource. Let’s renew it.

Hollywood Today looks at Gore, and the role of Hollywood in politics:

If this doesn’t seem that impressive, think about the fact that Al Gore had been championing environmental causes, particularly global warming, for much of his thirty-year political career without making much of a dent in mainstream social consciousness. In one year, however, with the help of some Hollywood wizardry, he took an academic slide-show presentation and turned it into an international blockbuster. Dare we say social phenomenon.

This Oscar could be just the beginning of a year full of such honors for Mr. Gore. He was also recently named one of many nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his work on the environment. However, he has a good chance, according to some. “A prerequisite for winning the Nobel Peace Prize is making a difference, and Al Gore has made a difference,” said Boerge Brende, a Norwegian member of Parliament who nominated Gore.

Gore has created a whole new career for himself as a media mogul with the help of his celebrity friends. He is leading a revolution in socially responsible media, and as his credibility grows in Hollywood, more and more celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon.

Gore does not seem to be shying away from the camera. His newest endeavor is “Live Earth”, a 24-hour concert on 7/7/07 that will take place across all seven continents, including Antarctica (for the penguins I guess), which will bring over 100 of the world’s biggest musical acts together to raise awareness of global warming. Just in case you missed the movie.

Ever since he has declared himself a “recovering politician” a vast portion of the American public seems to hang on his every word and looks ready to follow him into a twenty-first century environmental battlefield in Toyota Priuses. Would we really be paying this much attention to Al Gore if he weren’t surrounding himself with chiseled Hollywood faces?

Americans these days seem more willing to believe social commentary when it comes from George Clooney or Live Earth spokesperson Cameron Diaz than from the President of the United States.

What does it mean when Al Gore becomes more effective as a celebrity than a statesman? For one, it seems to justify the larger role Hollywood has begun to take in politics. If “Inconvenient Truth” can help fix global warming then who’s going to scoff at Brad and Angelina when they make quixotic statements about ending world hunger. After all, at least people will listen to them.

Update: Oscar Win Stimulates Further Speculation of Gore Run

Acceptance of Science and Reason In Presidential Candidates–John McCain and the Discovery Institute

The differences between the political parties in their views of science has become of increasing significance in recent years. One reason for the failure of Republican government in recent years has been their separation from reality. We saw this in their claims about WMD and ties between Saddam and al Qaeda to justify the Iraq War. We see conservatives opposing the consensus of scientific belief on evolution, cosmology, geology (if it disagrees with their ideas on the age of the earth), and climate change. You cannot devise workable public policy when ideology prevents a rational review of the facts.

John McCain’s talk before the Discovery Institute, the organization responsible for many of those nonsense conservative talking points against evolution, has emphasized the anti-science bias prevalent in the Republican Party. Shelley Batts discusses the relationship between presidential candidates and the company they seek among those hostile to science:

It is of the utmost importance that a president, or future preseident, have rational thinking and reasoning skills as well as a firm grasp over what constitutes scientific evidence in the formulation of theories. A president makes crucial decisions every day which impact the lives of millions of people. The election of a person who demonstrates an inability to assimilate facts and observations in a way that makes sense, but rather defaults to an emotional mythology, would be a grave mistake. Therefore, not only is it beyond reproach for the “intelligent liberal community” to impose a requirement of rationality on a future president, it would be ludicrous to do otherwise. Yes, I believe that influential people who cannot use their power in a coherant, scientifically-supportable way merits contempt.

Whether or not John McCain really believes in intelligent design, who’s to say? I tend to think he doesn’t, and this talk is just another panderfest to the conservative right. The problem is, in a presidential election, guilt-by-association is a very real thing. The reason for this is that there are no accidental appearances; every minute of McCain’s time from now until election day will be carefully planned, weighed, pondered over, and scrutinized by his team for maximum effect. This talk hosted by the DI, while not specifically admitting to agree with intelligent design, was also no accident. And the fact that a DI luncheon was an attractive place to spend his time in his quest to develop his image and become president, reveals that the image that HE wants to mold is very, very far from the image of the president I would elect.

Presidental hopefuls keep a keen eye out for oppertunities to ingratiate themselves with certain factions (McCain, as with any other). McCain had a oppertunity to associate himself with a pro-ID organization or, not to. He chose to do it. I hope it was worth it.

Regardless of whether they know better themselves, the Republican candidates find it necessary to align themselves with those who oppose science. Regardless of where one stands on specific issues, we are increasingly seeing the choice as being one political party which accepts facts over ideology, and therefore is more likely to promote pragmatic solutions to problems, and another which is tied to extremists who are willing to ignore all scientific and other evidence which contradicts their beliefs. As long as the Republican Party remains captive to those who share the views of organizations such as The Discovery Institute they will not be capable of governing.