Does anyone else feel like Al Gore is obsessed with padding his résumé? His film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” took home an Oscar for best documentary. His time in the White House ended ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, restored democracy to Haiti and dramatically decreased our national deficit. And now he can take pride in his not-so-well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize.
The prize, presented last Friday in Norway, was given jointly to Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their efforts to draw international attention to the severity of global warming. The IPCC’s win is legitimate. The panel reviews the most recent scientific literature and digests it for the masses to understand and better educate themselves. In the past, the IPCC has published reports on how to safeguard the ozone layer, developed methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and created task groups to study scenarios of what could happen to the planet because of pollution.
But how much of that did Gore do? I’ll be the first to admit that “An Inconvenient Truth” brought much needed attention to the problem of global warming. But here’s the real inconvenient truth: Al Gore’s involvement with the film only goes as far as publicity. The movie was really the brainchild of its many producers and its director, Davis Guggenheim.
I’ll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt and congratulate them on their genius PR scheme. Appointing Gore as the narrator and spokesman brought in more than $24 million domestically from a movie that would otherwise be known as a moving yet forgettable independent film.
But here is where the problem arises: Appointing Gore as a figurehead to the global warming campaign is acceptable as long as the credit goes to those scientists, researchers and organizations that have actually made a difference. When part of the Nobel Prize is given to someone who claims other people’s victories as his own, debate and outrage are bound to occur.
Needless to say, this isn’t the first time Gore’s fabricated achievements and overwhelming hypocrisy reared their ugly heads. Remember that this is the man who once said that he created the Internet and who reportedly uses more electricity in his Tennessee home in a month than the average American household uses in a year. Back in March, he refused to take Congress’s Personal Energy Ethics Pledge, a declaration promising not to use more energy than the average American. He also holds hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock in an oil drilling company called Occidental Petroleum.
So why is Gore painting himself as a tree-hugger when he is really a political has-been with credibility issues? Because this fame could give him a very real shot at the presidency.
National elections have turned into political and social popularity contests. People question Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning because many American voters find her too aggressive and masculine. Rudy Giuliani could have a fantastic shot at taking the Republican ballot if only he hadn’t married his second cousin, cheated on his second wife and estranged himself from his two biological children. And then there is John McCain. His history of spouting off Vietnamese slurs, candid declarations about Chelsea Clinton’s unattractiveness and singing about bombing Iran to the tune of the Beach Boy’s “Barbara Ann” has turned potential supporters into skeptics.
Given the judgmental tendencies of Americans, it makes sense that Gore would want to secure his title as a likeable social activist and Hollywood staple in order to ensure a successful presidential campaign if he decides to run. Unfortunately, this tactic compromises the legitimacy of his largest accomplishment to date.
The Nobel Peace Prize is meant to honor those who have discovered, sacrificed and influenced. What it isn’t meant to do is give unwarranted praise to a politician-turned-“philanthropist” vying for publicity.
Emily Michels is an LSA freshman.