The Right Stuff: Glitz, Glam and Gore
I usually don’t watch the Oscars: too much glamour for me in one night. This year, though, I made an exception. Some hallmates and I watched the entire program here on campus and much fun was had by all. The screen was splashed with all of the expected faces. Leonardo DiCaprio was there, Beyoncé was there and — of course — Jack Nicholson’s infamous grin was on display. But the old guard was not alone: a new set of Hollywood-types graced the red carpet as well.
One of these newbies was the inimitable Al Gore, invited for his “documentary” (read self-promotion piece) on global warming. I was not surprised to see Mr. Gore at the Oscars. Nothing could have prepared me, though, for the frequency with which Mr. Gore appeared on camera and before the microphone — or for the way his name melted from the lips of his celebrity pals all night.
Call me naïve, but I thought the Oscars were about film, not politics. Perhaps I was mistaken.
Note that Mr. Gore himself was not nominated for an award. When his “documentary” won an Oscar, that award was presented to a fellow named Davis Guggenheim (the filmmaker), not to Mr. Gore. Still, the former Vice President appeared at the microphone. In a spate of self-congratulatory overtones, he announced to the world that global warming is “not a political issue, it’s a moral issue.” You can guess who, in Mr. Gore’s view, is our moral guide in the matter.
In fact, climate change itself is neither a matter of politics nor of morality. It’s a matter of science. Mr. Gore was not talking about climate change itself, though. He was talking about the policy responses that some left-wing factions seem to favor these days: drastically higher taxes on fossil fuels, emissions restrictions and government grants for research on alternative energy.
Recall, however, that any set of policy prescriptions — including the set glorified by Mr. Gore’s film — is by definition a matter of politics. That is, reasonable men and women who share a concern for the potentially harmful effects of climate change might disagree on how public policy should seek to mitigate those effects.
Shrewd politician that he is, Mr. Gore would like us to believe that anyone opposed to increased taxes on gasoline is some sort of “global warming denier” — an epithet hurled with increasing frequency by the ex-VP’s disciples at places like Oberlin. This is, of course, a smokescreen.
The fact of the matter is that many conservatives are concerned about the science of climate change; most of us just happen to think that crippling the economy with massive fuel taxes is not the best way to find alternative energy sources.
If history has taught us anything, it is that innovation comes from the enterprising minds of individuals in free markets — not from government bureaucrats (or from private researchers whose only incentive is more grant money from Washington).
Sadly, I believe that most of my fellow Obies took Mr. Gore’s bait. Watching the program that night on campus, almost everyone in the room erupted into applause. I was, needless to say, one of only a couple holdouts.
Meanwhile, when the winner of the sound editing Oscar offered in his acceptance speech a word of thanks for our brave men and women in uniform, I was the only student in the room to applaud. My hallmates looked at me as if I had clapped between movements of a Vivaldi concerto. “What the heck is he doing?” their baffled, scornful faces asked.
I could only think one thing: “It’s getting hot in here.”