Gore Speaks at Netroots Nation
Updated 6:58 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta and Jose Antonio Vargas
AUSTIN -- Referring to himself as "the dog in this dog-and-pony show," former vice president Al Gore joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on stage today at Netroots Nation.
Gore, Pelosi said, was an early proponent of what became the Internet through his work with telecommunication legislation. "Without him," Pelosi said of Gore, "there would be no Netroots Nation."
A few seconds later, the former vice president said with a smile, "I think I'll refrain from saying that," drawing laughter and applause in the room.
Gore addressed the packed house of more than 2,000 bloggers and Democratic activists at the conference with a red-meat appeal to do more about climate change and extending deep thanks for the work the "cutting edge" activists were doing. He told them they would look back on the conference in future years as "the beginning of an effort that was historic to reclaim American democracy."
He repeated his call "to get 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources," the subject of a speech he gave in Washington on Thursday. Gore also elaborated on scientific concerns about the 3 million-year-old North Polar ice cap melting within five years and condemned a recent proposal by President Bush to expand offshore drilling for oil as a solution to America's energy crisis.
"The idea that we can drill our way out of this is just so absurd as to not warrant," said Gore, before being interrupted by applause. "There used to be an old-timey remedy for hangovers called 'the hair of the dog that bit ya.' They'd recommend going in and just having another drink in the morning if you had a hangover. Well, that's sort, that's sort of what that reminds me of. Oh, we have a fossil fuel crisis? Oh well, let's, let's just try to go back for more!"
He added, to applause and cheers: "When you're in a hole, stop digging!"
Gore, who was appearing as an advocate for the nonprofit, nonpartisan "We Campaign," took a moment for an online plug, first joking, "I don't know the protocol - is it okay to mention the Web site of the Alliance for Climate Protection?" drawing laughs from the audience.
The group, he said, is "trying to mobilize 10 million grassroots activists" - and that's where the bloggers come in. "You represent the leading edge of that new movement to reclaim the integrity of American democracy," he told the audience early in his remarks, before concluding, toward the speech's end, "We are in this for the long haul and we need your help."
Rumor of a mystery guest's morning appearance had swirled in the conference halls the day before, and Gore made a theatrical entrance to the conference. As Pelosi concluded the question-and-answer session that followed her morning plenary speech, she said, in response to one question, "I have this e-mail from a friend and it says in relationship to the question of energy..."
Her voice trailed off as a deep and familiar voice took over the reading of the letter.
"Dear Nancy," Gore began, emerging from offstage to a standing ovation.
After Gore spoke, he took questions from the audience on liquid coal, mountaintop removal, the role of meat-eating in climate change and whether he would take a role in an Obama administration. Gore had detailed answers at the ready for all comers, but declined to say whether he would serve under a potential President Obama.
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