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July 19, 2008

Gore at Netroots Nation
Posted by Ari Melber

Al Gore
Originally uploaded by Avelino Maestas
Al Gore made a surprise appearance at the Netroots Nation conference in Texas on Saturday morning, joining Speaker Nancy Pelosi on stage to address progressive activists. "I feel right at home here!" he said as he took the stage, while Pelosi and conference director Gina Cooper looked on. Organizers kept the visit secret all weekend, guarding details as if it were Obama's Middle Eastern CODEL. Rumors only leaked hours before Gore's speech -- and the New York Times Caucus blog picked up chatter on the visit from Twitter updates sent by the tech-savvy crowd.

Gore took open questions from the floor, which focused on climate change, alternative fuels, and the prospect of serving in an Obama administration. He respectfully demurred on the hypothetical of returning to government service, saying "I want to convey my respect for the idea...I really feel the highest and best use of whatever talents and experiences I've gained in my life is to focus on trying to enlarge the political space within which elected officials and cabinet members address this climate crisis." On the other hand, it's hard to imagine a more influential platform to advance those goals than serving as Secretary of State in an Obama administration, where Gore could prioritize climate change in the international portfolio and apply his NSC and VP experience to help end the war responsibly.

Gore also advised against proposals to use coal for automobiles, which would "vastly increase" CO2, in response to a question, drawing more enthusiastic cheers for his wonkery. Pelosi heralded Gore's early work on technology in Congress, saying "without him there would be no Netroots Nation." Anti-war activists also briefly protested during her remarks, saying she should be held accountable for not using her power to end the war.


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More a "surprise" than actually a real surprise -- like a surprise birthday party after having had many surprise birthday parties. I think the real surprise would have been if he didn't show up sometime during the meetings.

And without Gore there would be no Netroots Nation? Wow. To us, Netroots Nation feels organic and a product of myriad technical and social innovations and interactions. And while it may be all that, we (I?) missed the key: one guy, had he been different, is the ingredient without which it would not be. A big deal to us, but kind of 'in the noise' for a man saving the planet -- it made it through 3 or 4 billion years but, thankfully, at the moment of crisis, when it's e