'Run, Al, run!'
Former Vice President Al Gore was named a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this morning for his work on global warming, capping 24 hours of speculation driven in part by his role in a San Francisco fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer's 2010 reelection bid.
Gore was the scheduled headliner for the Thursday afternoon event, but canceled late Wednesday to attend a hastily scheduled global warming conference with top government officials in China. Boxer's campaign scuttled the event, e-mailed supporters who had bought tickets and began making plans to reschedule it for next month.
But about 8 a.m. Thursday, Gore called Boxer to say he was still in the country. The fundraiser was back on, as was the speculation that Gore might have received an inkling of the pending announcement and decided he'd rather be on home ground than in China when the word came (which regular Ticket readers knew yesterday).
Speaking before more than 400 Boxer supporters in an ornate ballroom of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, Gore reprised his now-familiar call for a new bipartisan and international approach to attacking global warming, as well as humanitarian crises such as Darfur. Calling such issues "a moral imperative," Gore said the world needed to change its consciousness and work to end such vast threats to human life.
The appearance also sparked -- no surprise -- an impromptu crowd chant of "Run, Al, run!," which he sought to cut off by waving his arms like a baseball umpire calling a runner safe. Gore, of course, has maintained he has no intention of joining the already crowded Democratic field of presidential contenders despite the persistent urging of a loyal band of supporters.
On stage, Gore followed a short musical set by pop performers Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. While talk of a possible Nobel swirled in the crowd, Gore did not mention it from the stage.
But the work that earned him the honor was front and center. Gore argued that half a century ago concerns that an unsettled Europe might spawn another world war led to the development of the Marshall Plan -- and the result is a much different world perception of Europe. Gore said:
"Europe saw things differently after they had the opportunity to work together. Consciousness has changed. Thinking has changed. It hasn't been that long ago that it wouldn't have been ... absurd to ask how likely is it that Germany will invade France or France will invade Germany. But now, thank goodness, because of the political changes in consciousness of the last 50 years, that ... is utterly absurd. We need to create a future in which when people say, 'How likely is it we'll have a genocide in Africa this year?' people will say, 'That's absurd.' Right now, it's not absurd."
-- Scott Martelle