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THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2006

SCARBOROUGH GETS IT BAD WRONG: Fairly often, Joe Scarborough is cable TV’s worst pundit. Last evening, he chatted with ABC’s John Stossel about Gore’s film on climate change. It’s hard to believe, but he actually said it:
SCARBOROUGH (6/28/06): A lot of my friends will be angry with me and say, “Scarborough, you are denying that global warming exists.” I am not denying that at all, but why is it that we live in a country where somebody like Al Gore and a political elite in Washington, DC and New York and L.A. can go out and say this is the fact? If we don`t turn things around in ten years, we are going to boil, the icecaps are going to flood, Manhattan is going to be under water and Florida is going to be under water. You cannot find scientists who believe that.

STOSSEL: Some do.

SCARBOROUGH: Meteorologists who understand and study this, they don`t believe it, do they?

STOSSEL: They are much more skeptical, but the alarmists always get the news.

Omigod! Stossel was the sane one here! Ironically, this hopeless performance came on a day when the AP ran a report about the way climate scientists agree with the science in the Gore film. Headline: “Scientists give two thumbs up to Gore's movie on global warming.” AP science scribe Seth Borenstein kicked things off like this:
BORENSTEIN (6/28/06): The nation's top climate scientists are giving "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy.

The former vice president's movie...mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.

The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

"Excellent," said William Schlesinger, dean of the Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. "He got all the important material and got it right.”

“Most scientists had not seen the movie?” Perhaps President Bush isn’t alone in his famous lack of intellectual curiosity. But despite the limitations of the AP survey, it was amazing to see Scarborough’s oddball statements on the very day this report was released. But then, we heard a major local radio host pushing this very same notion yesterday. “Scientists who are friends of Gore agree with his science,” was pretty much what this host said.

Amazing. But then, we’ve all lived in a culture of dreams for the past decade or so. Indeed, our thoughts returned to Campaign 2000 when we read this part of the AP report:

BORENSTEIN (continuing directly): Robert Corell, chairman of the worldwide Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group of scientists, read the book and saw Gore give the slideshow presentation that is woven throughout the documentary.
"I sat there and I'm amazed at how thorough and accurate," Corell said. "After the presentation I said, `Al, I'm absolutely blown away. There's a lot of details you could get wrong.' ... I could find no error."

Gore, in an interview with the AP, said he wasn't surprised "because I took a lot of care to try to make sure the science was right."

The tiny errors scientists found weren't a big deal, "far, far fewer and less significant than the shortcoming in speeches by the typical politician explaining an issue," said Michael MacCracken, who used to be in charge of the nation's global warming effects program and is now chief scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington.

As Borenstein continued, he described some of the “tiny errors” scientists thought they had found in Gore’s film. But those alleged “tiny errors” “weren’t a big deal,” he said, paraphrasing the scientists’ reaction. As he said this, Borenstein employed the tool of sound judgment—an ancient tool which is still available for use by rational humans.

But the tools of the rational fell in disfavor as the press corps clowned during Campaign 2000. As you may recall, Gore also made some “tiny errors” during his crucial Debate 1 with Bush. Those errors “weren’t a big deal” either—and Bush had unloaded some gigantic howlers, amazing misstatements about his own programs. But so what! After explaining that Bush had “won the debate” because he “didn’t say anything stupid,” your clownish press corps spent the next week savaging Gore for his “tiny errors”—and ignoring Bush’s giant misstatements. Why did they do that? One week later, Imus actually asked Margaret Carlson. And guess what? They had done that because trashing Gore was “fun,” the Time pundit said, and was “entertaining” as “sport.”

We’ve all been living as if we were mad over the course of the past dozen years. Ann Coulter writes the world’s fakest book—and the New York Times praises her fake, phony footnotes (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/22/02). And to this day, most liberal journals have taken a pass on discussing that startling War Against Gore. What do we get as the payback for silence? Greg Sargent has the latest news here.

Is it surprising to see a bright guy like Scarborough make such odd statements about Gore and science? We’ve lived our lives as if we’re insane. Last night, the howling went on.

TIME PASSAGES: Even Borenstein flashed us back to the endless nonsense of Campaign 2000. Bush is more fun if you’re drinking a beer! Here’s how the AP scribe ended:

BORENSTEIN: As far as the movie's entertainment value, Scripps Institution geosciences professor Jeff Severinghaus summed it up: "My wife fell asleep. Of course, I was on the edge of my chair.” [END OF ARTICLE]
What a completely ridiculous passage! Al Gore is so g*ddamned boring! You’ll fall asleep unless you’re a scientist! (In point of fact, Gore’s film is quite moving.) But then, pundits pimped this sort of thing over and over as they staged their war during Campaign 2000. For one brief moment, Borenstein flashed to our dim-witted past, pretending that he was still there.

Flashback? To see David Broder fall asleep as Gore speaks, you know what to do—just click here. (And here.) Gore was sharing his “swell ideas”—and The Dean had a brilliant rebuttal.

Special pleading: How he got there!

PART 2—A LANDMARK: We’ve already gotten some good suggestions about book agents for our coming blockbuster. And make no mistake—if our book is ever finished and published, it will be a landmark. That won’t be because the writing is good; as you can see in Tuesday’s excerpt, we’ve carefully kept the writing pedestrian (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/27/06). But the story involved here is simply astounding—a two-year tale of press corps misconduct—and the book will feature a “methodology” which has never been used in book form before. Let’s face it—before the rise of electronic searches, it just wasn’t possible to compile a study like the one we posted on Tuesday. There was really no practical way to survey the nation’s newspapers and see the way our “news” really works—to see the way the press corps agrees to repeat Standard Stories, no matter how fatuous those stories may be. Tomorrow, we’ll post another excerpt, and you’ll see the same damn thing. You’ll see the press corps adopt a script whose logic is straight outta Alice in Wonderland. You’ll see them recite this script again and again, using it to bludgeon Vile Gore and send Bold Leader Bush to the White House. And you’ll see that this script, like the script we limned Tuesday, came straight from the Bush campaign itself. But then, that’s the way our “worst ever” president actually found his way to the White House. How did he get there? For two solid years, the national press corps, in perfect lockstep, repeated utterly ludicrous narratives—narratives which it had taken straight from the Bush campaign itself. And yet, right up to this very day, know-nothing know-it-alls recite another sweet tale—another sweet tale which comes from the press corps (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/28/06). If only Gore had been himself! If only Gore had been emotional/had talked about warming/had been more authentic/had behaved the way he behaves in his movie, he would have gotten himself elected! This silly narrative disappears the remarkable aspect of Campaign 2000. Gore lost because he wasn’t emotional? It’s like saying that Noah’s neighbors died because they didn’t swim very well. But wait—wasn’t there also a fairly large flood? Well, yes—but why bring up that?

Tomorrow’s excerpt will concern the press corps’ conduct in the spring of 2000. In particular, we’ll look at the way the press corps “reported” the debate about Bush’s high-profile proposal to privatize Social Security. We now have a bit of perspective on this, of course. In 2005, Bush tried to turn his proposal into law—and as it turned, the public strongly opposed his ideas, and he suffered a stinging defeat. But just how was this issue reported in the spring of 2000, during Campaign 2K? Tomorrow, you’ll see the same thing you saw on Tuesday. You’ll see the mainstream press corps, speaking as one, savaging the Gore position with a ludicrous set of scripts—a set of scripts which, as you’ll see, came straight from the Bush campaign itself. And yes, this was the mainstream press corps, not the “right-wing machine.” This was NBC and the New York Times, once again at the forefront of the press corps’ remarkable clowning. But young liberal writers want to work for those orgs, and they’ve kept their pretty mouths shut about this, right up to this very moment. Indeed, at various liberal organs, we keep reading know-nothing accounts which help us think it was all Al Gore’s fault. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/28/06.)

So we’ll ask you again to send us ideas about publishers or book agents. (We lack the gene for knocking on doors.) The story involved here is simply astounding—and the rise of electronic search engines permits a type of explication which has never really been seen in a book. Because the story is so astounding—and because these searches can now be done—this book will actually be a landmark. So agents and publishers, get off your keisters! Tomorrow we’ll show you one more excerpt. But this book is just full of such episodes, one after another, for two solid years. Each one is more corrupt—and more dim and absurd—than the last.

American citizens have never heard the actual story of Campaign 2000. As we all can see by now, this campaign did change the world’s history. So how did Bush ever get to the White House? Will citizens get a chance to find out? Will citizens ever get a chance to find out how Bush got there?