It might be time to check: Yesterday afternoon, Al Gore appeared with Candidate Clinton in Miami, where they discussed climate change.
In our view, Clinton gave about as good a speech as we've ever seen her give. Inevitably, though, the children searched for ways to gossip and snark about Gore.
We were amazed by Rachel Maddow's treatment of the event. Let's start with the peculiar way she teased her upcoming segment:
MADDOW (10/11/16): ...Ralph Nader went on for decades campaigning for consumer safety and for integrity and openness in government. And then he decided that he wanted to campaign for himself for president in the election year 2000. Liberals' knock on the nominee that year, Al Gore, was he was boring, he wasn't all that different from George W. Bush, but liberal Ralph Nader, he sure was different. He ran on a Green Party ticket. He grew crowds, he was a crusading hero especially with young voters.Really? "Liberals' knock on [Candidate] Gore was he wasn't all that different from George W. Bush?"
We can think of only one "liberal" who argued that line. That was the ridiculous Frank Rich, who's often introduced by Maddow as "the great Frank Rich."
From March 2000 right on to through November, Rich kept insisting that Bush and Gore were just two privileged peas in a pod. It was a very stupid analysis, apparently part of Rich's endless Clinton-loathing. It helped send Bush to the White House.
Rich continued trashing Gore until he won the Nobel Peace Prize. (At that point, Rich pulled an instant 180.) In 2002, Rich trashed Gore as a fake and a phony when he urged against going to war in Iraq. In 2006, he trashed him as a fake and a phony when his film, An Inconvenient Truth, came out.
Rich is the only "liberal" we know who argued that Candidate Gore wasn't all that different from Candidate Bush. That said, the real absurdity came when Maddow talked about what Gore has been doing in the years since Campaign 2000.
Instead of discussing Clinton's speech about climate change, Maddow engaged in the usual lame-o gossip girl glop about earlier Clinton/Gore relations. After showing entertaining old footage of Bill Clinton at a McDonald's, she played Gore's concession speech from December 2000, then weirdly offered this:
MADDOW: Al Gore's concession speech in 2000. Since then we've not seen a lot of him at Democratic Party politics. He did speak at President Obama's convention in 2008, and he campaigned for President Obama that year. But he didn't attend the 2012 convention in Charlotte and he also skipped Hillary Clinton's convention this year. He said he had obligations in Tennessee.Maddow skipped Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean during the 2004 primaries. That was a fairly minor mistake, but she was snarking in some standard ways—the standard ways which, long ago, made it pointless for Gore to involve himself in politics.
That came after Al Gore basically sat out this year's Democratic contest entirely. He did finally endorse Hillary Clinton in a series of three tweets on the opening day of her convention. No rush.
Al Gore basically beamed himself out of Democratic politics after what happened to him in 2000. The last time he had a chance to campaign with a Clinton in 2000, he jumped away from that chance, not toward it. Now today, today he's back.
Still, the full-tilt weirdness was yet to come. You can peruse it below, as Maddow poses her first question to her guest, E. J. Dionne.
Maddow played a blip of tape from Gore yesterday in Miami. Weirdly, she then said this:
MADDOW: Former Vice President Al Gore with Hillary Clinton today, naturally in Florida. Not to underscore the point too much, but in Florida. At a time when the Clinton campaign looks like it may, may be sewing things up in this election, why is today the day they brought Al Gore back? And what's he been doing anyway?Did the increasingly ridiculous Maddow actually say that? Let's repeat what she said:
Joining us is the great and good E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a great all-around person. E.J., it's lovely to see you. Thank you for being here.
DIONNE: It's great to be with you, Rachel. Thanks so much.
MADDOW: Let me ask you if you know what Al Gore has been up to all of these years? We did see him briefly in 2008, but I feel like other than his climate activism, which I'm a little bit aware of, I don't know what he's been doing.
"Why is today the day they brought Al Gore back? And what's he been doing anyway?...Let me ask you if you know what Al Gore has been up to all of these years? We did see him briefly in 2008, but I feel like other than his climate activism, which I'm a little bit aware of, I don't know what he's been doing."
Can that possibly be what Maddow meant to say? Please note:
Just before "we saw him briefly in 2008," some of us "saw him briefly in 2007" winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
The year before that, in 2006, we saw him starring for almost two hours in the documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. In 2007, we saw him in Hollywood, where the film won the Oscar for Best Documentary.
Maddow seems to have missed all that. Weirdly, she said she's "a little bit aware of his climate activism," but the great and good Dionne pretty much had to fill her in. The pair went on to offer an utterly pointless segment. The fault lay with Maddow, not with Dionne.
We're often struck by Maddow's cluelessness about the 1990s, which often seems to turn up as deeply under-informed disdain for Bill Clinton. Last night, she seemed to be extending her studied disdain and her cluelessness to Clinton's running mate.
Perhaps that wasn't intended. But what a ridiculous summary! And by the way, might we talk?
The mainstream press corps, Dionne and especially Rich included, turned Gore into a laugh line. It's a large part of the reason why he isn't especially helpful at this point as a political figure. It helps explain why it was easy for crackpot conservatives to turn his award-winning film on climate change into a punching bag.
It won an Oscar, then its author won the Nobel Peace Prize. But in the world presided over by corporate trolls like Maddow, it became the latest source of gong-show disputation. Gore and his film became targets of Trumpism long before we had a Candidate Trump.
How many political figures are ever right about anything at all, let alone about a deeply serious issue like climate change? Progressives actually ought to honor such unusual work.
Instead, along come corporate clowns like Maddow, eager to praise the greatness of the MSM hacks who helped make Gore an industry-wide punch line. She rubs against the legs of the figures who will in turn praise her today.
Has anyone ever displayed the corrosive power of wealth and fame in quite the way Maddow has? Elvis died on the toilet one day. "Dr. Maddow" has died before our eyes, right there on corporate air.