Last night, I numbed my buns watching the Academy Awards for upwards of four interminable hours. I think the last time I watched this extravaganza, Bob Hope was the emcee.
I watched mostly to see if my man, Al Gore, would do the unthinkable thing that was rumored, i.e., announce his presidential run with Oscar peering over his shoulder. He didn't. I should have known. The man has class. Now his life work has been deemed Oscar-worthy. But don't hold that against him. The Oscar may be mitigated by an award from the Nobel folks. I hope so. He richly deserves it.
Before I move on to the larger implications of Gore's win, let me just say that the Academy Awards reminds me a little bit of the bar scene from the first "Star Wars" movie. The distinguished Mr. Gore was surrounded by Hollywood's finest. Maybe my incipient fogeyness filtered the incoming images, but I found it a generally odd lot.
Cascades of hair colors not found in nature, many in peculiar styles. Wasp-waisted wannabes cinched into some severely unattractive gowns. A bevy of bodacious tatas on the verge of making a cameo appearance.
Men with hair slicked back (Leonardo DiCaprio) or missing altogether (the oddly disturbing Jack Nicholson). The dashing Peter O'Toole of my youth looking unfocused and completely used up. Then finally, finally, the delicious George Clooney moved to center stage. As soon as he opened his mouth, he lost my love forever. He made a totally inappropriate joke (likely referencing his much-publicized drunk with Danny DeVito some time back) about drinking backstage with Al Gore and others. Ewww.
I love that a full-figured black woman (Jennifer Hudson) defeated her competition. That a woman my age (Helen Mirren) swept the best actress field. That Alan Arkin (who won my heart about 100 years ago in "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter") won. That Melissa Etheridge kissed her wife before bounding to the stage to accept her Oscar for best song, "I Need to Wake Up," written for Al Gore's film. I found myself rooting for the non-traditionals, and they won in large numbers.
Which brings me full circle to Al Gore.
In his post today, Juan Cole posits that the Gore win last night was more than a Tinseltown moment. Cole is very smart, very insightful. He speaks today about the immensely powerful and dangerous campaign by big oil to undermine work that might mitigate against global warming. Which, of course, puts big oil at complete loggerheads with Al Gore. I hope someone has his back, big time. Cole says:
That the Al Gore film "An Inconvenient Truth" was legitimized by an Oscar Sunday night for "Best Documentary" has wider implications for the future of the United States than it might seem, though admittedly it is a small step.
That the American Enterprise Institute is the most hawkish of the Washington "think tanks," and that its staffers were key to thinking up and promoting the Iraq War with lies and propaganda.
A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. Exxon Mobil is a big behind the scenes player in the Iraq War by virtue of its support for AEI. In fact, I think a boycott of its gas stations is in order until the company cuts off AEI and stops promoting the Iraq War and muddying the waters on global warming. (It pledged to do the latter in the past, but obviously was lying).
So the point is that the American Enterprise Institute symbolizes the intersection of Oil and War, which are the two most menacing threats to the future of America.
Only by a Manhattan Project-scale government effort to develop green energy can we hope to avert the worst consequences of global warming, which is likely to raise sea levels 20 feet over the next century or century and a half. (That would put a lot of cities on both coasts under water).
But the other problem with petroleum and gas as sources of energy is that they are getting scarcer. No big new fields have been found for some time. And in one recent year China generated 40% of new demand for petroleum. If a billion Chinese and a billion Indians adopt the American lifestyle and all want 1.5 automobiles and superhighways to crawl along on, the existing stocks of oil will become objects of fierce competition. This process has already begun, and there is a sea change from the mid-1990s, when oil was still cheap and competition for it limited.
Iraq is an Oil War in the mind of politicians like Dick Cheney. It was necessary to deny it to China and other rivals thirty to fifty years in the future. It was necessary to open its vast petroleum fields up for exploration and cast aside anti-American Baath socialism.
All of this reminds me that Al Gore has fearlessly taken on the powers of evil intentions, daring to poke about in the dark cave where Cheney dwells and snarls, plotting high crimes and misdemeanors with his pals. Clearly, advocating for our planet is not for the faint of heart.
Dick Cheney will never win an Oscar. I imagine he laughs off Gore's win. But he had best pay attention. Al Gore has picked up his scent. It's the stink of deceit and greed. This is not an adventure flick, folks. It's real life. Which is why I want Al Gore in the White House. I believe with my whole heart that he's our best and possibly only hope.