Al Gore is impossibly tall. He's a linebacker, broad-shouldered. He looks like one of those Stonehenge rocks stuffed into an expensive blue suit. If a car were to crash into Al Gore, it would, like that one car in that one Superman sequ–
Wait a second, I'm taller than Al Gore.
It's true. Looking at the picture we took together (“Mr. Gore, my mom would kill me if I didn't get a picture … “), it is clear: I'm taller than the vice president. And damn it if his face isn't kind of ruddy, a little saggy. This is what the photo reveals — an aged man — and the photo does not lie. And yet … and yet … in my mind's eye he still seems huge, regal, invincible. In my mind's eye Al Gore carries a sword. I'd follow him into battle, off a cliff. And you would, too. And you better — the fate of the known world depends on it.
See, Al Gore has a movie coming out, An Inconvenient Truth (in S.F. theaters June 2), which is a documentary that follows the vice president around the globe with his trusty PowerBook, essentially playing the role of traveling salesman. The product he's selling to audiences from Beijing to Buenos Aires, to put it only a teensy bit melodramatically, is Our Very Lives. Big Al's talkin' Global Warming. His pitch is that this problem — ahem: Reckless energy consumption produces excess CO2 emissions that line our atmosphere to create a global greenhouse that is heating, and hence totally fucking up, the earth — is civilization's greatest challenge. And his pitch is compelling. He shows us huge chunks of glaciers breaking off into the ocean and time-lapsed photos of the world's tallest peeks, their ice and snow gone missing like a toupee blown loose in the wind. He shows us what San Francisco — and Manhattan and Calcutta and Florida — will look like when/if a couple of ice shelves slide into the ocean, raising the global sea level 20 feet.
“Is it possible that we should prepare for other threats besides terrorists?” the VP asks. The answer is yes, yes — oh god yes please and what can I do right now!? (I suggest throwing a rock at a Hummer; Gore, for the record, does not.)
So yeah, compelling shit. Lots of obvious and good reasons to see this flick. But here's one that's a little less obvious: Al Gore himself.
Think back to the 2000 election. Raise your hand if you voted for Nader. Whoops. Even if you did vote for Gore, did any of us do enough? Could we have swung Ohio? Arizona? Oregon? Were we still basking post-coitally in the booming days of Clinton, our guard down, the back door unlocked, Karl Rove in a ski mask ready to filch the silver? Sure feels that way now. And so for those of you who haven't thought about Gore since then — even though he's a de facto San Francisco resident, with an apartment downtown and irons in the fire at Google, Apple, and SOMA-based Current TV — now's your chance (your obligation, really) to reacquaint yourself with the man. Because even though we can all furl our brows and yell “Bush stole it!” Michael Moore-style (and he very well might have), at the end of the day we just didn't get it done. We allowed the GOP to send a very capable president packing, and seeing the man today really, really re-emphasizes the tragedy of this fact.
Because this man is a Leader, and his very presence reminds you of what it means to be that thing, how completely missing this brand of person is at this very important moment. I had the privilege of sitting down with him last week for 20 minutes for one of those PR junkets folks do to promote their movies, and, as indicated above, the man emits bigness. Still. If he were to rip open his shirt, a burst of light would come shining forth — I'm sure of it. And on the previous night, after the movie screening and the subsequent Q&A, when Mr. Gore was “wrapping it up” with his closing comments, explaining to us that Global Warming presents not only an opportunity to Save the World, but also a chance for us as a society to band together — the way past generations from the '40s and '60s did — joining forces to tackle problems like genocide in Darfur, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the never-ending battle between dogs and cats — well shit man, we believed him! We stood to our feet and clapped. And it felt so good to actually believe a Leader again. To think we shunned this guy six years ago — kicked him to the curb! Shame on us! And look what it cost us? Oh fuck! Shit! But look — now's your chance to do Al a little favor, because we all kind of owe him, right? Owe him and ourselves. And like a nice guy, Al isn't lording the whole thing over our heads, isn't wagging his finger and saying, “See? See what happens when you don't vote for Al?” No, no. All he's saying is: “Go see my movie.” Also: “Go throw a rock at a Hummer.” Actually, he didn't say that. I did. Al Gore doesn't support the throwing of rocks at Hummers. That's what he told me, when I interviewed him and shit.