TCS Daily


A Classic Blunder

By Nick Schulz - January 15, 2004 12:00 AM

NEW YORK, Thursday, Jan. 15 -- I was going to go to former Vice President Al Gore's speech today at New York's Beacon Theater where he was talking about the destruction being wrought by global warming and how President George Bush is doing nothing to stop it, but I decided against it. It snowed, making it difficult to get there. And it's four degrees, making it difficult to go outside. Besides, MoveOn.org, the activist group sponsoring the event, was broadcasting it on its website so I could watch it at home. Thank you Al Gore for inventing the Internet!

OK, OK. That's not fair. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Nation writer Eric Alterman have noted, Gore didn't claim he invented the Internet. That was a vicious, despicable slur by the right-wing media to paint Gore as a liar when really he's a good and decent public servant. Here's what Gore said: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." Damn you, you right-wing media making Al Gore look bad! Damn you!

Anyway, before we turn to the super-scary and serious threat of global warming, I just want to comment on how cold it is. See, my wife and I just had a baby daughter, and the doctors tell me that we can't take a newborn outside if it's below 25 degrees. And these days it doesn't get much above 12, so we stay inside all day. That's fine by me but, man, I could go for a little of that global warming Al Gore is talking about. Just a little taste of that yummy warming. Like when I have to go outside to get the paper in the morning in my skivvies, if it could kick in right then, maybe just a smidgen of that warming would be nice.

Since it's too cold to spend any time outside, I prepared to watch the speech by visiting the MoveOn.org "Democracy in Action" website to find out more. At the site I found that Gore would criticize George Bush because, "the President is choosing to help his coal- and oil-company supporters..." And then I looked outside and, lo and behold, I saw what must be one of those supporters MoveOn is talking about. On a truck right outside my house in bright, colorful letters blazed the words:

"ATOMIC FUEL OIL"

A guy in a green jacket with a ski mask was standing outside freezing his rear-end off as he prepped the truck to feed the home heating fuel reservoirs that, given the frigid temperatures, were emptier than the seats at the Rosie O'Donnell/Boy George production of "Taboo."

And we're among the lucky ones. At least we have those supporters on our street making sure we have heating oil. The New York papers are filled with stories in recent weeks of apartment dwellers who have no heat despite the frosty air. Of course, landlords are required by law to provide heat for their tenants but, as Dickens put it, "the law [to say nothing of landlords] is an ass."

Given the temperatures this week, having heated shelter is "a matter of life and death," according to Newsday. That being the case, all I can say is: thank you, President Bush's coal- and oil-company supporters, thank you.

In a way I feel sorry for Gore. His timing is worse than Navin R. Johnson's. For example, Gore decided to back Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination just as Dean was peaking in the primary season. The latest polls have John Kerry, once presumed a political dead man, now leading in Iowa. And Gore wasn't even able to time his concession in the 2000 election correctly, leading to his now-famous "snippy" exchange with Bush.

But the real problem with his timing is that he's prone to make what were called in the movie Princess Bride, "classic blunders."

"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia', but only slightly less famous is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!'. Hahahahahah!

The MoveOn.org site said that Gore "will show that global warming is not a future threat -- it is happening now." So Gore picks the coldest day in New York in a decade to make the speech. That's another classic blunder: Never give a speech in the northeast fretting about global warming on the coldest day in January.


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