Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Al Gore and the pale blue dot.

1/31, noon.

It’s Baptist Al Gore time and he has come with his high-tech PowerPoint show about global warming, the film version of which, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Academy Award. The audience for this luncheon (which cost $35 – the rest of the Covenant events have been free) is almost all white. 2,500 of them.

It’s a bit crowded (and the food is ghastly).

It’s dawning on me how many national office holders are Baptists – Gore, Bill Clinton, Carter, Bush . . . Gore is engaging, self-deprecating and quite funny. People are whispering that they wish he had behaved like this instead of being such a stiff in the 2000 election.

In one of his slides, the animation bounces down a map of Greenland. Gore is bouncing it, bouncing it again, and then a few more times as he quips that he really liked the bouncy thing on Apple’s Key Note software and was dismayed to learn that its most recent release didn’t have it. But, he tells us, there are advantages to being on the Apple board – they reinstalled the bounce for him.

The room is loving the show – all 90 minutes of it – with the exception of two well-scrubbed teenagers at my table who are decidedly not clapping along and two girls sitting on their hands at the table behind us; the annoying nasty, catty chattering of the neighbor girls’ is incessant and I want to throttle them.

As the lights came up and none of these dissenters join the crowd giving Gore an ovation nearly as long as his presentation, I ask why them they weren’t excited about what they’d just seen. Then I notice that the two at my table have press credentials and I take back my question and say, oh, I get it, the press isn’t supposed to clap. But the girl says, no, it’s because it’s Gore. We hate him. These people wouldn’t stand and applaud Bush, she says, so why should we applaud Gore. (So much for Carter’s hope for bridging gulfs and creating harmony.)

I ask, well what about the presentation itself? What did you think of that? The girl says, we don’t care about that stuff. It’s not our issue. She and the young boy with her scurry away. Yes, these kids are reporters, reporters for the Southern Baptist Convention’s newspaper. But their heads are in a lock-box – one Gore never contemplated.

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