CBS's Stahl: Al Gore Is 'PR Agent For The Planet'

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterOn Sunday’s "60 Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl interviewed former Vice President turned global warming alarmist, Al Gore, and observed: "There's still a lot of skepticism about whether global warming is manmade...there's pretty impressive people, like the Vice President [Dick Cheney]." Gore then described skeptics like Cheney this way: "I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat." Gore then went on to explain: "That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off."

Stahl teased the interview at the top of the program: "Since he lost the election, Al Gore has become a certified celebrity, a popular prophet of global warming." In the introduction to the segment, Stahl proclaimed: "When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, he was often ridiculed as inauthentic and wooden. Today, he is passionate and animated, a man transformed."

Stahl began the interview by asking Gore about the Democratic presidential race and the possibility of him brokering a deal between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, as Stahl later observed: "He's not ruling it out, but he says he already has a job -- as he puts it, P.R. agent for the planet."

CBSNews.com video of the 13-minute story.

Stahl went on to describe Gore’s activism as a spiritual crusade: "His slide shows are tailored to his audiences. So, as he showed us in his office, when he talks to Evangelical Christians, he includes passages from the Bible...Gore is trying to redefine this as a moral and spiritual issue."

Stahl also spoke of Gore’s willingness to spend his own money in a new ad campaign: " He's taking his fervor and some of his personal fortune and funneling them into a huge new $300 million advertising campaign." To her credit, Stahl actually did follow up by explaining where Gore got some of that "personal fortune": "He not only made a comeback, he made a fortune. It started when he invested in Google early on. Worth less than $2 million in 2000, the Gores are worth so much now, they've been able to invest $35 million in hedge funds and other private partnerships."

Immediately following Gore’s comparison of global warming skeptics to flat Earther’s and those who thought the moon landing was staged, Stahl declared: "What Al Gore has set out to do is mobilize a big, popular movement, worldwide. And his winning the Nobel Peace Prize hasn't hurt, since it's given him more stature and prestige." Comparing one’s critics to fringe conspiracy theorists is apparently prestigious.

Stahl concluded the fawning interview by describing Gore’s new cause: "He says he's fallen out of love with politics. He's selling a cause now. No consultants telling him what to say or how to dress." If this interview was any indication, it seems that members of media have become his new "consultants."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

TEASER:

AL GORE: I am Al Gore, I used to be the next President of the United States of America.

LESLEY STAHL: Since he lost the election, Al Gore has become a certified celebrity, a popular prophet of global warming. And he's about to launch a new ad campaign so vast and expensive you won't be able to miss it, starring some of the most unlikely couples imaginable.

THE SEGMENT:

STAHL: When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, he was often ridiculed as inauthentic and wooden. Today, he is passionate and animated, a man transformed. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Oscar. And last year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now he's a certified celebrity, the popular prophet of global warming. He has helped change the way the country thinks about the issue. And yet, while 70% of Americans believe global warming is a big problem, they still rank it near the very bottom of their list of top 25 concerns. And so, Al Gore is about to wage a new campaign to emphasize the urgency of what he says is the greatest challenge facing our time. But as we found out while spending time with him and his wife, Tipper, for the moment at least, there's another campaign Americans care about most. We were with you in the San Jose airport, and a man came over to you, and he says, "who are you supporting, Obama or Hillary? Who are you supporting? Who are you supporting?"

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Who you voting for?

AL GORE: Uh-huh.

MAN: Who you voting for this year?

GORE: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

STAHL: So, let me ask you. Who are you supporting?

GORE: Yes.

STAHL: That's what you said to him.

GORE: Yeah, I'm trying to stay out of it.

STAHL: Getting Al Gore to talk about politics these days is hard work, believe me. But as a party leader, and uncommitted superdelegate, his staying out of it isn't easy. Are they... are they calling you every minute?

GORE: Not every minute.

STAHL: No? Lot of pressure though, I'll bet.

GORE: We unplugged the phones for this interview, so I can't say with authority. But no, everyone... they... they both call. And I appreciate that fact.

STAHL: And what about the idea of the honest broker who goes to the two candidates and helps push one or the other of them off to the side.

GORE: Yeah, kind of a modern "Boss" Tweed.

STAHL: Except his name would be Al Gore.

GORE: Well, I'm not... I'm not applying for the job of broker.

STAHL: He's not ruling it out, but he says he already has a job -- as he puts it, P.R. agent for the planet. You have said, I'm going to quote you: "If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis."

GORE: Yeah.

STAHL: I can't think of a time I've heard the candidates talk about it.

GORE: Right. Well, I'm not finished yet.

STAHL: The Gore campaign on global warming went into high gear when his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," was an unexpected hit.

GORE: That brings up the basic science of global warming...

STAHL: What he's been doing is holding seminars...

GORE: This is Mt. Kilimanjaro, more than 30 years ago... and more recently.

STAHL: ... Where he trains other people to give his famous slide show about the effects of greenhouse gases.

GORE: Within the decade, there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro.

STAHL: So far, in all, he's coached about 2,000 people, teaching one little workshop at a time.

GORE: And it's a shame because these glaciers are so beautiful.

STAHL: His slide shows are tailored to his audiences. So, as he showed us in his office, when he talks to Evangelical Christians, he includes passages from the Bible. Here he edited in the voice of an astronaut.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: And God said, "let there be light," and there was light.

STAHL: Gore is trying to redefine this as a moral and spiritual issue.

GORE: We all share the exact same interest in doing the right thing on this. Who are we as human beings? Are we destined to destroy this place that we call home, planet Earth? I can't believe that that's our destiny. It is not our destiny. But we have to awaken to the moral duty that we have to do the right thing and get out of this... this silly political game-playing about it. This is about survival.

STAHL: He's taking his fervor and some of his personal fortune and funneling them into a huge new $300 million advertising campaign.

GORE: Hey guys. How's it going?

STAHL: He hired the agency that made the caveman and talking lizard ads for Geico to create global warming commercials.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: Now, the first thing we run on television.

AD NARRATOR: We didn't wait for someone else to storm the beaches at Normandy.

STAHL: The ads will start running this week on the broadcast networks and cable channels in a blitz as sweeping and expensive as a big corporation's rollout of a new product.

AD NARRATOR: And we can't wait for someone else to solve the global climate crisis. We need to act, and we need to act now.

GORE: Come on, don't tell me we can't solve this. We can solve this if we put our minds to it.

STAHL: Now, the rest of the future ads are going to stress this bi-partisan coalition that's coming together on this with some surprising pairings.

GORE: Yeah. Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich, two people who don't agree on very much at all...

STAHL: And they're going to do an ad together?

GORE: ... Are doing an ad together.

STAHL: And several other unlikely couples, like Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton.

PAT ROBERTSON: And we strongly disagree...

AL SHARPTON: Except on one issue. Tell them what it is, Reverend Pat.

ROBERTSON: That would be taking care of our planet. It's extremely important.

STAHL: Now, we're told that this ad campaign is going to cost a barrel of money. How are you paying for this?

GORE: Well, Tipper and I... thank you again...have put all of the profits from the movie and the book that we would have otherwise gotten -- "An Inconvenient Truth"-- to this and...

STAHL: All the profits?

GORE: Correct. All that we would have received, absolutely.

TIPPER GORE: And, not only that, but you know, there is a cash component to the Nobel Peace Prize, which he was awarded, and we donated that and we matched it.

STAHL: Tipper says that Al's survival after his defeat in 2000 depended on his immersing himself in the climate cause. 2000 was, of course, when he won the popular vote, but lost the presidency when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George Bush.

GORE: I offer my concession.

STAHL: Did he go through the seven stages of anger and grief? I'm not even joking. Anger? Fury? Rage?

GORE: That doesn't get you anywhere.

STAHL: Doesn't mean you don't have it.

GORE: Uh, again, I'm not sure words are adequate for anybody who tries to describe an experience like that. But, you know, I probably went through all that, yeah.

STAHL: His friends said they were worried about him and his state of mind, especially after he gained a lot of weight and grew a beard. Because people looked at that and said, "oh, my God..."

TIPPER GORE: I know.

STAHL: "...What's with Al Gore?"

GORE: You know, I don't think it's all that mysterious. You have shattering, disappointing setbacks, and you have a basic decision to make. You know, do you... do you pick yourself up and go on or not? And it's not... ultimately, that's not a difficult choice.

STAHL: You know, your lawyer, one of your lawyers in the Supreme Court case, said publicly of you: "Al Gore thought the court's ruling was wrong and obviously political."

GORE: Well, I -- I strongly disagreed with the decision, but to ascribe low and petty partisan motivations to the five justices who were in the majority, it doesn't feel right for me to do that.

STAHL: Tipper, how has he changed?

TIPPER GORE: For the better. Not that he needed to change for the better at all, but I have to say, I am so proud of him. I mean, I think that if you look at anyone who kind of went through what... what he went through and see what he's been able to do -- I'm just really proud of the way that he has not given up, that he lifted himself and our family, you know, back up as well.

STAHL: He lifted himself up by turning his old slides, that were gathering dust in the basement, into that mega-hit documentary.

GORE: I am Al Gore, I used to be the next President of the United States of America.

STAHL: It's been translated into 27 languages, and was good enough to win an Oscar.

GORE: The atmosphere heats up worldwide-- that's global warming.

STAHL: He not only made a comeback, he made a fortune. It started when he invested in Google early on. Worth less than $2 million in 2000, the Gores are worth so much now, they've been able to invest $35 million in hedge funds and other private partnerships. They bought this 18-room mansion in Nashville. After they moved in, they were criticized because the house "Mr. Global Warming" lived in used 20 times more energy than the average American household. Since then, they have retrofitted everything.

GORE: It's hard to retrofit...

STAHL: Including installing 33 solar panels on the roof.

GORE: We'll generate our own electricity with wind...

STAHL: He's also making his parents' farm eco-friendly... oh, so you'll have windmills here?

GORE: Yep.

STAHL: ...With plans to turn it into a training center for people from all over the world. For now, he takes his slide show on the road. We went with him to India. It's going to be so hard, so gigantically difficult to solve this problem. And expensive, no?

GORE: It's much more expensive not to solve it.

STAHL: India is the world's fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

GORE: But it has relevance for India particularly because of the monsoons.

STAHL: He's here in New Delhi teaching 100 people how to give his slide show and spread the word. You're giving talks to a hundred people. There are over a billion people in India. I mean, how do you expect to really have any kind of impact?

GORE: This is the beginning, and then they will train others. And I will be training others.

STAHL: It's so daunting.

GORE: We don't have any choice. We just don't have any choice. I... I wish I knew a better way to do it. I constantly ask myself, "how can I be more effective in getting this message across?" It's so clear, it's so... it's so compelling. And... and yet, it takes time to get the facts out.

STAHL: But it's not so clear and compelling to everyone. There's still a lot of skepticism about whether global warming is manmade.

GORE: I don't think there's a lot; I think there's...

STAHL: Well, there's pretty impressive people, like the Vice President.

GORE: Well...

STAHL: He said, "we don't know what causes it."

GORE: You're talking about Dick Cheney.

STAHL: Yeah, but others. And they say: 'We don't know what causes it and why spend all this money till we really, really know?'

GORE: I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off.

STAHL: What Al Gore has set out to do is mobilize a big, popular movement, worldwide. And his winning the Nobel Peace Prize hasn't hurt, since it's given him more stature and prestige. Tomorrow is your 60th birthday.

GORE: ( Gasps )

STAHL: Sorry, didn't want to be the one... to be the first to tell you. Have you completely, totally put the idea of the presidency behind you once and for all?

GORE: Well... well, first of all, 60 is the new 59, so this is a new world that we're in.

STAHL: So you're a young man... a young man.

GORE: I doubt very seriously that I'll ever be a candidate again.

STAHL: He says he's fallen out of love with politics. He's selling a cause now. No consultants telling him what to say or how to dress.

GORE: We all seem to learn the most from the most painful experiences. And would that it were not so. But it is so. And the old cliche "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is sometimes true. And so, when you go through a lot, you do have an opportunity to learn a lot. And I think I've been very fortunate.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC