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For Gore, telling both sides isn't convenient

| Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Former Vice President Al Gore and his cinematic handlers have made half of a very good movie. As far as it goes, it is intriguing and entertaining. It just does not go far enough.

Titled "An Inconvenient Truth" (although "A Debatable Assertion" would be more accurate) it is about global warming, the fashionable doomsday of our time.

Its message is that worldwide temperatures are rising alarmingly. And that we are the perpetrators, we human beings, especially Americans, in how we live.

We burn too much gasoline in our cars and coal in our power plants. Our burners excessively spew carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas." Collecting aloft, it hinders the earth's warmth from dissipating into space. So the atmosphere heats up beyond nature's own long cycles of ice age and nice age.

And if we don't quit what we're doing -- fast! -- in the next 10 years, say, of another two-term president -- the damage may be irreversible. Thick miles of ice piled high on the north and south poles could melt and sea levels catastrophically rise. Weather systems will grow nastier. (Hurricanes are already worse, have you noticed?) And it will be too late to do anything. "Terrifying," the movie's own blurbs boast.

In fairness, Mr. Gore (under skillful Hollywood direction with stages full of visual aids) comes across as cool, friendly, even funny. No hellfire-breathing preacher for sure. But his message is basically the same: "Repent before it's too late." We waste, therefore we will be destroyed.

His prescription is to reform -- no doubt disrupt -- the biggest national economy on earth, ours, in pursuit of emissions reductions that might chill the cosmic sweatbath hardly at all. And at very great cost. Use more fuel-efficient cars (that is, make Congress order the automakers to produce them), says our man on a mission; the ex-Veep has given this lecture 1,000 times, he says. Use mass transit, walk, bicycle. It is the conservation rationale of all good environmentalists, sensible enough in proportion.

But what the viewer keeps waiting for in Mr. Gore's bid for an Academy Award, documentary category, is "the other side."

Incredibly, there is no other side. Very few issues are like that. More than 900 "peer-reviewed" scientific papers have come out on global warming, says Gore, and not one disagrees. Zero. Evidently only someone very pigheaded or beholden to the oil lobby could doubt that America should get with the Kyoto Protocol pronto, no excuses!

And maybe so. The prosecution rests, and it's not a case that wastes your time. But the defense is never heard from. It's conservative. It doesn't get Hollywood help making movies.

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