Monday, October 15, 2007


Folks in the mainstream media have come around to Al Gore.


On George Stephanopolous’ ABC Sunday show, Cokie Roberts, for example, was simply effusive in conceding, “Good for Al Gore. He deserved this.”

Cokie like Stephanopolous, who referred to Gore as a “political carnivore” after his second debate against the Texan during the 2000 campaign, was never truly on board.

highwayscribery, a force to be reckoned with throughout the information constellation, has decided to prolong the news cycle dedicated to Gore’s triumph by doing another post a few days after the fact of his winning the Nobel Prize.

First, we’d like to point out how much we like Gore and how often we’ve trumpeted him when it went against the grain of American opinion to do so.

We’ve covered some of the controversial speeches he made as an early critic of the administration when that was not popular. We thought we sensed something of a surprising “Gore Zeitgeist,” in April 2006, and were tuned-in like nervous teens when he won an Academy Award, waiving off all the inconsequential categories like “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” so they could get to the all-important “Best Documentary” category.

So, we told you so before the rest of them did, which should make all 27 of you feel like you’re onto something hot and inside-y with your dark highwayscribery habit.

Aside from the early morning Associated Press report leading the charge last Friday morning, Gore got some kindness from the “New York Times,” and writer Jim Rutenberg, who noted that for Gore, “winning the Nobel Peace Prize today is the latest twist in a remarkable decade of soaring highs and painful lows.”

To Rutenberg’s credit he highlights Gore’s politics over his “pop culture” triumphs as those who deign to damn him with faint praise refer to his Oscar, his Emmy, his Webby, and his successful stab at becoming the world’s biggest rock promoter on the first go-round.

Long before these things began to congeal into the Gore Zeitgeist, Gutenberg says Prince Albert of the Tennessee Valley, “was growing in stature for another reason: his early opposition to the war.”

We’re not sure that’s the case. In fact we’re not sure that being anti-war in the United States ever gets anywhere with the big outlets. As the Brits say: “It’s just not done,” but Rutenberg’s point demonstrates the retroactive nature of success and validation.

In short, once you’ve had success, you’re whole backstory gets a boost. Former flubs become painful but necessary detours on a destiny marked for distinction.

More from Rutenberg on the Gore and the war: “He had initially voiced it [his opposition] in 2002 in an address that his newly galvanized supporters now describe as uncannily prescient and unfairly dismissed, though it was seen as a politically off-kilter at a time of great popularity for [p]resident Geo. [w.] Bsh.”

Even second tier operations like the “San Diego Union-Tribune” got into the act.

The “U-T” as it is known locally and colloquially, usually contracts out its opinion section to the syndicated gang, but the Copley crew let a staff writer named Peter Rowe air it out about a reliable whipping boy to rather pleasurable effect.

“Maybe he really did invent the Internet,” Rowe wrote.

“Al Gore’s résumé includes just about every other distinction: an Emmy, and Oscar and now a Nobel Peace Prize. His impressive run has been unmatched by anyone in our culture. (Other than Oprah, of course). Just seven years ago, though, Gore was considered a schlub.”

Rowe goes onto survey the accolades accorded the former veep across the culture and across the political spectrum. Save, of course, what he refers to as “the Limbaugh-Hannity-Coulter Axis of Conservative Commentary.”

Not that these folks haven’t been a boon to the conservative movement, but at this late hour the brand has to be getting tarnished with the association. Their inability to even see an American in someone wafting a whiff of progressivism has all but polished that little nub of imagined credibility into the flat marble surface of their imagined reality.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger had the decency to release an officious statement reading: “Congratulations to Al Gore for receiving this great honor, recognizing his important work on climate change. Climate change is a global crisis that transcends politics and party affiliation and that's why there are leaders from across the spectrum calling attention to this critical issue.”

But generally, when you lack grace at lower levels, it’s because you lack it at the very top and rather than the typical congratulatory note proudly reserved for citizens that ennoble their country with an achievement such as the Nobel, White House mouthpiece Tony Fratto came up with an extemporaneous, “Of course we’re happy for Vice President Gore and the IPCC for receiving this recognition.”

Then how come you had to be asked? the highway scribe was so happy he called his mom to ask what she thought, but she beat him to the punch because she was so happy, too.

Paul Krugman of the “New York Times” took at stab the burning question, What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Gore's message is deeply threatening to a party living in the stone age, Krugman suggests.

“Today,” he wrote, “being a good Republican means believing that taxes should always be cut, never raised. It also means believing that we should bomb and bully foreigners, not negotiate with them."

But Gore’s belief in diplomacy before war and the reigning in of our mutual lifestyles to something more dignified than pigs at the trough is only the beginning.

The biggest reason the right wing hate him so is that, “the smear campaign has failed. He’s taken everything they could throw at him, and emerged more respected, more credible, than ever. And it drives them crazy.”

Music, sweet music.

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