Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Clinton, Al Gore and Cigars | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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After winning the award for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Oscars for his film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ about global warming, former American Vice-President Al Gore has been confronted by a campaign of skepticism that casts doubts about his environmental credibility. This came about after a small local group affiliated to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research in Nashville, Tennessee where Al Gore lives, gained access to the energy bills for his home only to discover that the losing candidate in 2000’s US elections is not practicing what he preaches when it comes to the environment.

The group obtained the information and published it on the Internet under the federal laws relating to the Freedom of Information Act to reveal that Al Gore’s house consumed 221,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is 20 times over the national average. At the time I thought it was yet another battle between Republicans and Democrats and nothing more than a trap. In truth, I didn’t really have a decisive opinion of Al Gore as a politician before that but today; I have a strong and clear one, and therefore I also have an amusing story.

Two days ago I was invited to dinner in one of London’s hotels with some dear friends –and sitting at the table next to us was Mr. Al Gore. One smart friend joked that he would ask for a cigar and exhale the smoke in the direction of the environmentally concerned ex-vice president to see what his reaction would be. My friend was saying this when the former vice-president was sitting right behind him. One of my friends let out a resonant laugh and said, “Don’t put your health at risk”, just as the ex-vice president lit up his own cigar! My friend laughed and said, “This from a man who has just won an Oscar for protecting the environment!”

Of course the conversation then turned to politics and the politicians who talk about what they do not do, but they do it naively. Protecting the environment is noble and necessary but manipulating it in a Hollywood manner for the sake of remaining in the spotlight is disturbing.

It seems that Al Gore did not benefit in any way after eight years spent in the company of the intelligent President Bill Clinton, who did what he did, dividing the people around him into supporters and opponents, and yet he always wins the hearts of his loyalists.

Bill Clinton was the smoothest of lying politically, but you find yourself saying, yes, he made a mistake but he’s only human, and who of us doesn’t commit follies! As such, the spotlight shines on President Clinton and his popularity increases.

As for Al Gore, it seems that he was not aware that the most complicated secrets of a politician’s popularity lies in the simple issues. The strange thing is that Al Gore does not remember that the secret behind Clinton’s problem was cigars – and after all these years cigars have become the story of the two men who symbolize the Democratic Party!