Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Al Gore Makes Surprise Visit to Netroots Nation" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: MORE details from Andrew @ the NPI Advocate.

Ari Melber (The Nation):
Al Gore made a surprise appearance at the Netroots Nation conference in Texas on Saturday, joining Speaker Nancy Pelosi on stage to address progressive activists. "I feel right at home here!" he said as he took the stage, while Pelosi and conference director Gina Cooper looked on. Organizers kept the visit secret all weekend, guarding details as if it were Obama's Middle Eastern CODEL. Rumors only leaked hours before Gore's speech -- and the New York Times Caucus blog picked up chatter on the visit from Twitter updates sent by the tech-savvy crowd.
Gore thanked the several thousand attendees for creating a "movement" that can "reclaim the integrity of American democracy" by fostering a "well-informed citizenry that is involved and engaged." Drawing on the critique of the media and democratic discourse from his book, The Assault on Reason, Gore contrasted the netroots' fact-driven writing and activism with the "malignant manifestation of hunger for power" among corrupt leaders on the right.

Gore devoted the bulk of his remarks to his crusade against global warming, casting it as a moral, economic and security imperative for the United States. He drew several standing ovations from the energetic crowd. Gore urged activists to join his bipartisan campaign at The effort has drawn 1.3 million supporters, he said, with a goal of ten million. "You speak to and influence and connect with so many millions of people," he said to the gathered bloggers, asking for their help in recruiting more bipartisan support for the climate movement.

Gore took open questions from the floor, which focused on climate change, alternative fuels, and the prospect of serving in an Obama administration. He respectfully demurred on the hypothetical of returning to government service, saying "I want to convey my respect for the idea...I really feel the highest and best use of whatever talents and experiences I've gained in my life is to focus on trying to enlarge the political space within which elected officials and cabinet members address this climate crisis." On the other hand, it's hard to imagine a more influential platform to advance those goals than serving as Secretary of State in an Obama administration, where Gore could prioritize climate change in the international portfolio and apply his NSC and VP experience to help end the war responsibly.

Gore also advised against proposals to use coal for automobiles, which would "vastly increase" CO2, in response to a question, drawing more enthusiastic cheers for his wonkery. Pelosi heralded Gore's early work on technology in Congress, saying "without him there would be no Netroots Nation."
Anti-war activists also briefly protested during her remarks, saying she should be held accountable for not using her power to end the war.
Howie P.S.: If Nancy thought appearing with The Goreacle would eliminate the pushback, I guess she was wrong. Avi Zenilman has more details about Gore's remarks.

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