Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Gore Zeitgeist


On the first Tuesday in November of 2000, the scribe was on the verge of his moment.

The scene was the Stonewall Democratic Club on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood and the moment was presaged by the announcement that Al Gore had just taken the State of Florida.

The room exploded because, well, that was really it, Gore was going to win. the scribe turned to hug someone and there was this Asian-American guy with spiked hair and an earring standing there, so he hugged him, good and hard.

Usually, and for most of us, presidential candidates hail from a distant world and formation, but in Al Gore the scribe saw a kindred spirit: an annoying liberal White Boy who wore his intellect on his sleeve. A verbal, over-informed know-it-all whose help the world clearly needed (but didn’t want).

The photo above is one of the scribe’s favorites from that campaign. It is the writer/vice president penning his own nomination acceptance speech, something highwayscribery believes should be a requirement of all public office holders.

We like like-minded people leading us, because they take us where we already want to go.

The next best thing is to have a close friend win. If the scribe’s friend Antonio Mendoza became president, there’s a very good chance that, after many protestations that he neither sought the job nor power, the scribe would be forced to accept an appointment heading up the Department of Labor. And then you’d see some stuff.

Of course, the "moment" was not to be, but highwayscribery has never hidden its warmth for the former veep, and we are given to airing his occasional pronouncements as important.

Anyway, sometimes things are not meant to be, but for a good reason.

Here’s an article from the "Washington Post" about Gore’s current obsession, which was his past obsession too, and how he is serving others without having to fly around in a big plane with a fighter jet escort.

Titled, “A Campaign Gore Can’t Lose,” Richard Cohen’s column focuses on Prince Albert of the Tennessee Valley’s latest salvo in the global warming debate, a documentary film marketed as “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The particulars of the film, which in Cohen’s estimation is terribly frightening, won’t be gone into here. Suffice it to say, and borrowing from the columnist himself, our Earth is “in extremis” and Katrina is just the beginning of what will be happening to seaside cities and low-lying coastal regions in years to come.

But here’s the paragraph we like most, because it rings true and shows how time can clarify things and come around to know-it-all, self-styled intellectuals whom people get annoyed listening to:

“You cannot see this film and not think of George W. Bush, the man who beat [ahem] Gore in 2000. The contrast is stark. Gore – more at ease in the lecture hall than he ever was on the stump – summons science to tell a harrowing story and offers science as the antidote. No feat of imagination could have Bush do something similar – even the sentences are beyond him.”

And that’s very true, the deeper point being such was the country’s state of mind in 2000. Now we are someplace else collectively, which is why Al Bore is on the cover of “Vanity Fair” this month, and George W. Bush is on the sole of your shoe.

Here’s more:

“But it is the thought [as opposed to the sentences] that matters – the application of intellect to an intellectual problem...”

[sigh]

“...Bush has been studiously anti-science, a man of applied ignorance who has undernourished his mind with the empty calories of comfy dogma. For instance, his insistence on abstinence as the preferred method of birth control would be laughable were it not so reckless. It is similar to Bush’s initial approach to global warming and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol – ideology trumping science. It may be that Gore will do more good for his country and the world with this movie than Bush ever did by beating him in 2000.”

Doing for his country and the world. Helping. That should be a new road to our presidency. Early in life, (not 18 months before an election) you start out helping the homeless guy around the corner with a meal now and then. You volunteer at the animal shelter. Then you organize a beach cleaning mission made up of your neighbors. And your circles or waves of mutual assistance move concentrically outward, catching on with others so that one effort, started earlier, merges with a different one started after, and so on until your use to the country is indisputable, measurable by something other than how much money you can raise for paid political spots.

(Just an anarcho-syndicalist thought.)

Mr. Vice President, Cohen says, “at last, is a man at home in his role. He is master teacher, pedagogue, know-it-all, smarter than most of us, better informed and, having tried and failed to gain the presidency, he has raised his sights to save the world. We simply cannot afford for Al Gore to lose again.”

the highway scribe is probably kidding himself in this identification. After all, Gore was a senator’s son and went to Harvard. the scribe’s role model was Brian Jones (“Brian Jones: Rolling Stone,” March 24) and he didn’t go to Harvard. Gore has spent his life in public service; the highway scribe gorging his mind on imagined and stylized stories.

But what is a hero, save for someone you can only emulate and aspire to replicate in action?

3 comments:

Shaun Mullen said...

Hi Scribe:

I thought your post was beautifully moving and right on the money. I have taken the liberty of excerpting it at Kiko's House.

the highway scribe said...

Very good. Will check it out.

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