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Published: Monday, 10/22/2007

Loftier pulpit for Al Gore

WHEN Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, won the Academy Award for best documentary this year, climate-change skeptics blamed "liberal Hollywood" for its blatant environmental bias.

As far as Mr. Gore's critics were concerned, the Oscar was just another self-congratulatory mash note bestowed on a liberal by liberals. They contend the jury is still out when it comes to the science cited by Mr. Gore.

But for the jury that awards the Nobel Peace Prize, the evidence for a worldwide climate crisis is overwhelming. Europeans take the situation more seriously than Americans, though the popularity of the Gore film here indicates such attitudes may be changing.

Because Mr. Gore's documentary illuminated the problem in ways that captured the imagination of people around the world, the former vice president and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel were awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. Gore will scarcely have time to make room on his mantel for the award when his ardent admirers will clamor for him to enter the Democratic presidential primaries. The last time he ran, he won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush.

Arguably, Mr. Gore has far more civic and moral influence as a private citizen and environmental advocate than he would as a president constrained by the duties of office. He is smart enough to realize that for the issue he really cares about - climate change - he has an enviable bully pulpit as a documentarian and environmentalist.

Some say his prize is nothing more than a slap at the Bush Administration's poor environmental record. Anything's possible, but there's no arguing with the fact that Mr. Gore has cared about global warming and its challenges since he was a graduate student decades ago.

Citizen Gore may be more in touch with the zeitgeist than presidential candidate Al Gore ever was. Why would a prophet in his own land want to give that up?

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