Al Gore in Vancouver (although tickets are freaking expensive!)

Just a heads up to those of you who can afford hundreds of dollars to hear Al Gore speak in Vancouver (he’s in town this Saturday). I’m guessing this has something to do with wanting to attract business folk, but still, it seems like a crying shame that normal folks like us are left out because of monetary considerations. Anyway, check out this link, if you’re willing to take the financial plunge.

Since I’m on the subject of Al Gore, I thought I may as well let you in on a cool little film that is available in Issue #1 of McSweeney’s Wholphin DVD. Essentially, it’s a short 15 minute movie filmed by Spike Jonze of his day spent with Vice President Al Gore (available below). What’s really interesting however is the backdrop to the film.


If you read the Wholphin liner notes, you find out that the film was made for the 1999 election campaign, but was never publically aired . What’s intriguing is that the Wholphin editors suggest that this one small film may have given Mr. Gore the precious few votes needed to win that election. In other words, watching the video you really come away with the realization that Mr. Gore seems like a pretty nice warm sort of person – a stark contrast to his media representation courtesy of the always effective Republican spin meisters. Anyway, I think it also beautifully illustrates the potential power and importance of small and sometimes forgotten things.

I wonder what’s on his mind nowadays, since he seems to have gotten himself caught up in a very interesting predicament. I’m referring, of course, to his rise as one of the potential Democratic candidates, which could ultimately and tantalizingly lead to arguably the most powerful voice in World politics for climate change. Compared that, however, to the brutal skepticism and punditry arising if he did indeed decide to run, where the danger is that the great advocacy he has clearly provided might disappear altogether tainted by, for better or for worse, political motivation.

Anyway, enjoy:

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(LINER NOTES W/ SPIKE JONZE: reprinted from

Q: Can you tell the story of being asked to make this movie?

Spike Jonze: This campaign manager named Carter Eskew called me up and asked me if I would be interested in coming up with some campaign commercials. I’d never really been involved in politics at all, but I was starting to think about politics more and was wanting to participate. But I had a hard time deciding what kind of commercial to make because I realized, like the rest of the country, I didn’t really know who Al Gore was. So I suggested that what I could offer would be to simply go down and get my impressions of Al Gore. And I just went with my video camera by myself, and just tried to gather, in a small unobtrusive way, a sort of video portrait- a day in the life, just to get to know who he is.

Q: I think that no matter what party you belong to, whether you are Republican, Democrat, anything, you look at the film and you think that this is somebody who is an honorable guy, a good guy, a guy who’s obviously a family man and whose family loves him. You get this really complete picture of the guy.

SJ: Yeah. As I said, I didn’t know anything about him and I went in just wanting to know who he is, and by the end of the day I felt that they were a really solid family and I really liked them. I think that Al and Tipper have to be good people and good parents to have created a family that’s so solid. They look out for each other, and you can feel it. I mean, it’s really obvious when you’re around a dysfunctional family and it’s also obvious when you’re around a really functional family.

Q: So you just spent one day with them? You started in Carthage, Tennessee?

SJ: Yeah, I went down there to Tennessee and it was supposed to be just an afternoon. I guess he had liked my movie Being John Malkovich and so from that had… I don’t know why he gave me this sort of access. It was very intimate and personal in terms of letting a cameraman into your home, but I guess that after the afternoon, they felt comfortable with me, so they invited me to go on their vacation. They were leaving that day to go to North Carolina, so in the middle of the afternoon the helicopters came and landed in the Tennessee farmhouse and we went to the army base and got on Air Force Two and flew to North Carolina.

Q: Is there any special clearance you need for Air Force Two?

SJ: No.

Q: No search, no cavity…

SJ: No, I guess the security guys were just like, “Oh, he’s with the Vice President.” And then we got into North Carolina in time to go swimming in the ocean and it was incredible. It was just supposed to be a few hours but it was this whole day.

Q: You have, I think, probably the only footage anywhere of Al Gore bodysurfing. And this movie overall presents a picture of Gore that we really didn’t see anywhere else. Was the movie ever shown anywhere?

SJ: It was shown at the Democratic Convention in LA I think it was shown in the afternoon.

Q: Was it broadcast on TV? Was that part of the original plan?

SJ: It wasn’t ever broadcast, no. There was some talk of broadcasting it, but that didn’t get too far. Nightline asked me to come on and show it, but I didn’t know if I’d be articulate talking about it.

Q: Everyone who’s seen this movie thinks it humanizes Gore in precisely the way he needed to be humanized. He got tagged as being cold and robotic, and this film shows him to be warm, very genuine, passionate even. There are a lot of people who think that if this had been shown on primetime, it could have really made a difference in the election.

SJ: I wonder. I don’t know, really. I like Harold and Maude.

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at