But as the throngs of celebrities greeted Al Gore as a secular saint, I wondered if this might usher in a backlash against environmentalists. It wasn't too long ago, afterall, that environmentalists were decried as tree-huggers, and former President Bush railed against them — trying to say it was the spotted owl against logging interests and jobs in the West.
Gore has repeatedly said the environment is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it's a moral issue. But now that Hollywood has so completely embraced the former vice president, one wonders if this issue will be associated only with liberal causes. The Oscars may give Gore's critics ammunition to reject a school of thought that's been validated by countless scientists worldwide. Some people I know latched on to a recent Gore global warming conference that was cancelled because of a snowstorm.
And yet, after a period of time of not conceding global warming even exists, President Bush used the term "climate change" for the first time and has talked about a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It seems like we're reaching critical mass when it comes to this issue. And all the experts agree. Well, almost every expert. (There are a handful of scientists — many of them on the payroll of big oil companies — who wonder if global warming is a reality.)
But my fervent hope is that Hollywood's embrace of Al Gore doesn't give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort — and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change. Some people find anything trendy repugnant, but this is a trend that's really important.
Senator Barbara Boxer, the new chairman of the Environment Committee, told us that "global warming is not just a warm day in January, it is a threat to the delicate balance of the planet." And many conservatives, too, share this view. Conservatives like Brent Scowcroft, the former Bush national security adviser, Lee Thomas, Ronald Reagan's EPA Administrator, and Theodore Roosevelt IV. All of them — and many others — would say exactly what Gore says.