Al Gore nabbed this week's cover of Entertainment Weekly. Surely, some will say, strange things are afoot on Planet Earth.
The EW cover featuring Gore, against a visual from the new documentary, 'An Inconvenient Truth.' (EW, Paramount)
"An Inconvenient Truth"—a documentary about global warming starring Al Gore presenting his topical slide show—won't go away. The million-dollar movie has grossed roughly $15 million domestically and is poised to earn roughly that overseas, making it one of the most profitable documentaries of all time.
And now the EW cover, headlined with: "Mr. Gore Goes to Hollywood: The Inside Story of How the Ex-Vice President Became Summer's Most Unlikely Movie Star." The line plays off Frank Capra's 1939 Jimmy Stewart-starrer, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
Gore's role in "Truth" and his dogged promotion of the film have given him a profile unmatched since he lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. And these different Gores—presidential candidate versus movie star—have critics buzzing and EW subscribers getting a lot of Gore. His head is the sole graphic on the cover.
"Miraculously, over the past few months, An Inconvenient Truth has accomplished something many people once thought inconceivable: It's made Al Gore cool," wrote Benjamin Svetkey in EW. "The somber policy wonk who campaigned for president in 2000 with all those bland speeches about lockboxes is gone. He's now a hip and trendy (in a wonky sort of way) ecological activist."
Gore has crisscrossed the country to attend screenings and deliver interviews. He's appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "The Late Show With David Letterman," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and given countless other interviews about an issue he's been slide-showing about for several decades.
At each stop, it seems, journalists pester him with questions about a future presidential campaign. At each stop, he says he has no plans for such, adding that he's concentrating on the campaign to halt and reverse effects of global warming.
"An Inconvenient Truth" has drawn audiences far beyond Hollywood, as the EW article points out. Per-screen averages in places like Greeneville, S.C., and Minneapolis have remained strong.
"Even evangelicals, never a big part of Gore's base, have been rallying behind the cause, such as the 86 pastors—including best-selling Christian author and Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren—who signed a petition of concern about global warming after the picture debuted at Sundance," wrote Svetkey. "The conservative media, meanwhile, which savaged Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, have been relatively silent about this picture."
"When not even Fox News wants to pick a fight with Al Gore over global warming," Svetkey wrote, "you know the debate is over."
If the debate is in fact "over," not everyone is admitting it. The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution at its June 2006 meeting stating that the "scientific community is divided on the effects of mankind's impact on the environment" and some "environmental activists are seeking to advance a political agenda based on disputed claims."
Gore sees global warming, however, not as a political issue, but a moral one.
"This isn't a political film," Gore told Svetkey. "Global warming isn't a political issue. It's about the survival of the planet. Nobody is going to care who won or lost any election when the earth is uninhabitable."
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
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