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Al Gore and the rant heard round the Web

August 9, 2011 |  3:36 pm


It might seem as if we haven't heard from Al Gore in a while, but the former vice president and onetime presidential candidate is still passionate about politics and climate change. Last week, he let loose with an expletive-laden rant that he didn't know was being recorded -- and it's been reverberating around the Web ever since.

In this case, Gore's anger was directed at the big money used by some corporations to manipulate the media. Here's an excerpt of his talk, as reported on the Real Aspen website:

"The vice president recalled how not long ago tobacco giants 'succeeded in delaying the implementation of the surgeon general's report for 40 years -– 40 years! In every one of those 40 years the average number of Americans killed by cigarettes each year exceeded the total number of Americans killed in all of World War II : 450,000 per year. My sister was one of them. ... It was evil, evil, evil.' "

Then he said the same people who worked on the tobacco campaign are working to confuse the climate change issue:

"That same model of media manipulation, Gore said, 'was transported whole cloth into the climate debate. And some of the exact same people — I can go down a list of their names — are involved in this. And so what do they do? They pay pseudo scientists to pretend to be scientists to put out the message: This climate thing, it's nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn't trap heat. It may be volcanoes.' "

(Because we can't put curse words on the blog,  we'll have to stop there.)

Gore made the remarks at the Aspen Institute in Colorado. He was there for a conference on poverty, but agreed to speak at a separate lunch for the institute's communications and society program, which is where the recordings were made. He was not supposed to discuss climate change, but rather his views on the electronic public square and governance, according to Charlie Firestone, executive director of the program.

Gore spoke for about an hour and, according to Firestone, among the topics were the history of communications, research in neurobiology and citizen participation in government. 

"Normally these meetings are private and not for attribution. However, this one was being streamed not to his knowledge, as I had neglected to mention that to him," Firestone wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times. "The participants at the meeting were generally impressed by his range of knowledge and willingness to answer questions."

You can find video of Gore's remarks on YouTube, and Real Aspen has audio of the angrier parts of Gore's talk.


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Photo: Al Gore speaking in Costa Rica this year. Credit: Yuri Cortez /AFP-Getty Images