Katie Couric Worries Oscar for 'Secular Saint' Al Gore Will Cause Right-Wing Backlash

On "Couric & Co.," her CBSNews.com blog, Katie Couric warned Monday that while Gore was greeted "as a secular saint" for his Oscar win, she worried about a backlash from the Bush team or conservatives or those rare scientists -- "many on the payrolls of big companies" -- who disagree with Gore's global warming alarmism. Couric said the social consensus is here, and "my fervent hope is that Hollywood’s embrace of Al Gore doesn’t give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort — and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change. Some people find anything trendy repugnant, but this is a trend that’s really important."

Right after pronouncing her opinion that movie star Penelope Cruz was best-dressed at the Oscars, Couric proclaimed:

But as the throngs of celebrities greeted Al Gore as a secular saint, I wondered if this might usher in a backlash against environmentalists. It wasn’t too long ago, afterall, that environmentalists were decried as tree-huggers, and former President Bush railed against them — trying to say it was the spotted owl against logging interests and jobs in the West.

Gore has repeatedly said the environment is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it’s a moral issue. But now that Hollywood has so completely embraced the former vice president, one wonders if this issue will be associated only with liberal causes. The Oscars may give Gore's critics ammunition to reject a school of thought that’s been validated by countless scientists worldwide. Some people I know latched on to a recent Gore global warming conference that was cancelled because of a snowstorm.

And yet, after a period of time of not conceding global warming even exists, President Bush used the term "climate change" for the first time and has talked about a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It seems like we’re reaching critical mass when it comes to this issue. And all the experts agree. Well, almost every expert. (There are a handful of scientists — many of them on the payroll of big oil companies — who wonder if global warming is a reality.)

But my fervent hope is that Hollywood’s embrace of Al Gore doesn’t give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort — and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change. Some people find anything trendy repugnant, but this is a trend that’s really important.

Senator Barbara Boxer, the new chairman of the Environment Committee, told us that "global warming is not just a warm day in January, it is a threat to the delicate balance of the planet." And many conservatives, too, share this view. Conservatives like Brent Scowcroft, the former Bush national security adviser, Lee Thomas, Ronald Reagan’s EPA Administrator, and Theodore Roosevelt IV. All of them — and many others — would say exactly what Gore says.

Maybe the weirdest part of this commentary is the claim that George H.W. Bush "railed" against environmentalists on the spotted-owl question. But a peek back through the Nexis data-retrieval service finds that CBS News didn't report a whole lot on that subject.

-- On October 19, 1992, in the third debate, President Bush did poke at Bill Clinton trying to take all sides: "There's a pattern here of appealing to the auto workers and then trying to appeal to the spotted-owl crowd or the extremes in the environmental movement. You can't do it as president. You can't have a pattern of one side of the issue one day and on another the next."

-- On September 15, 1992, there was this story from Randall Pinkston:

Pinkston: "With polls showing Democrat Bill Clinton leading in Washington and Oregon, President Bush campaigned in Pacific Northwest timber country, accusing his opponents of caring more about the spotted owl than people."

President Bush: "It is my firm belief that people and their jobs deserve protection, too."

Pinkston: "The man who once said he wanted to be the environmental president now says environmental extremism has led to the loss of thousands of timber industry jobs. In search of votes, he's preaching balance."

Bush: "And each pair of owls -- listen, America -- gets 3,500 acres to itself, while jobs, families and communities are being wiped out in the process."

That sounds firmly contrary to the environmentalist gospel, but it doesn't sounding like a personal attack on greens. Perhaps Couric was mistaking Bush for Charles Kuralt, who cartooned the Republican description of Clinton kicking off Republican convention coverage on August 20, 1992:

"Bill Clinton is Slick Willie married to a feminist who wants to let children sue their parents, promoting a radical plan to destroy the traditional family, favors abortion on demand, women in combat, single-sex marriages, did inhale. Would appoint Mario Cuomo to the Supreme Court, redistribute wealth and raise taxes. Wants to save the spotted owl but put American workers on the endangered species list. Can't be trusted, welfare state, Democrat Congress, liberal media elite. That's it. The convention in 30 seconds and probably, Dan, a preview of the 1992 Republican campaign."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis