Frontline's Hot Politics falsely claimed “Gore rarely mentioned global warming” during 2000 campaign

On April 24, the Public Broadcasting Service's Frontline aired Hot Politics, its new program with the Center for Investigative Reporting focusing on the politics of global warming, which falsely claimed that, during his 2000 presidential campaign, “candidate [Al] Gore rarely mentioned global warming or talked about mandatory carbon caps.” In fact, Gore did mention the issue of global warming throughout his campaign -- including in his acceptance speech at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The narrator then went on to document then-presidential candidate George W. Bush's September 2000 campaign promise to support mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions along with Bush's March 2001 reversal on the issue.

Hot Politics showed a clip from an October 26, 2000, Gore campaign speech in Davenport, Iowa:

DEBORAH AMOS (Frontline correspondent): In the 2000 campaign, Al Gore had the reputation as the strongest environmentalist ever to run for president.

GORE: Now, I want to talk about the environment here today, because we have a situation where the big polluters are supporting Governor Bush, and they are wanting to be in control of the environmental policies."

The narrator then cut in:

AMOS: But candidate Gore rarely mentioned global warming or talked about mandatory carbon caps.

In fact, following the line that Hot Politics clipped from that October 2000 speech, Gore went on to discuss global warming at length:

GORE: [I]nstead of just going up a few degrees in the lifetimes of these kids, unless we act, the average temperature is going to go up 10 or 11 degrees. The storms will get stronger, the weather patterns will change. But it does not have to happen, and it won't happen if we put our minds to solving this problem.

And that is one of the reasons I'm running for president. Here is the good news: If we take the leadership role that these kids have a right to expect us to play, we can create millions of good, new, high-paying jobs by building the new cars and trucks and furnaces and boilers and technologies to stop the pollution and lift standards of living at the same time. Are you with me?

(Cheering and applause)

There's a big difference on this issue. I laid out a plan this past summer that will create partnerships with the car companies and with the utilities and with the factories to give tax breaks to get the new kinds of technologies going. And we'll lead the world in those technologies. And all over the rest of the world, they're wanting to buy these new kinds of technologies, and we're the ones that ought to be making and selling them to the rest of the world.

Moreover, Gore highlighted the issue of global warming numerous times during his campaign:

  • At a January 5, 2000, Democratic primary debate against former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) at the University of New Hampshire, Gore stated: “Another one [difficult issue] would be in the early years, when I decided to take on the issue of global warming and make it a national issue, when everybody was saying 'You know, you're going to run a lot of risk there. People are going to think that that's kind of off the edge there.' Well, now more and more people say, 'Yes, it is real,' and the next president has to be willing to take it on.”
  • At a rally following the “Super Tuesday” presidential primaries on March 7, 2000, Gore told supporters: “Join us to achieve an America where pollution will never be the price of prosperity. Join us to secure cleaner air and cleaner water, and to slow and then reverse the tide of global warming in ways that create more high-paying jobs.”
  • On May 8, 2000, Gore told attendees at the Associated Press annual meeting: “Similarly, on the environment, I believe very strongly in protecting our air and water and attacking the global threats, like global warming, in ways that create more jobs and put us out at the cutting edge of building and selling the new technologies that we need. I have a profound difference with Governor Bush on this issue.”
  • On June 27, 2000, Gore said at Trigen Energy Corp.:

GORE: There can be a next stage of prosperity in which American creativity builds not just a better product -- but also a healthier planet. A next stage of progress in which it is an everyday accomplishment for Americans to develop path-breaking technologies that create millions of high-wage jobs, clean up the environment, and combat global warming at the same time. A next stage of prosperity and progress in which we encourage and support the Thomas Edisons of tomorrow -- and empower them to build a better, cleaner, more prosperous world.

We can now harness that uniquely American power of innovation. We will say to the nation's inventors and entrepreneurs: if you invest in these new technologies, America will invest in you.


GORE: And that's just the beginning of what we can do ... from transportation, to power plants, to industry.

We are close to the day when Americans can buy cars with new fuel cells that truly revolutionize fuel efficiency. We've worked for this in a public-private partnership with our leading auto makers. The only emission from these cars will be water; they create no greenhouse gases at all -- which means they combat global warming. And lest you think that this is a pie-in-the-sky prediction many years from the market, one version on display at this year's auto show got over 100 miles per gallon -- and we learned just last week that buses powered by this technology will be driving on America's city streets within two short years.

  • During a July 13, 2000, speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Gore said: “Let us also reach for an America where we invoke all the wonders of science and discovery to cure cancer, ease the pain of disease and let all our children breathe free from pollution and smog, and clean up the environment and take on global warming and have clean air and clean water, and protect the Great Lakes.”
  • During his August 17, 2000, acceptance speech for the Democratic presidential nomination, Gore said:

GORE: On the issue of the environment, I've never given up. I've never backed down and I never will.


And I say it again tonight: We must reverse the silent rising tide of global warming, and we can.


GORE: We must confront the new challenges of terrorism, new kinds of weapons of mass destruction, global environmental problems, and new diseases that know no national boundaries and can threaten national security. We must welcome and promote truly free trade. But I say to you: It must be fair trade. We must get standards, we must set standards to end child labor to prevent the exploitation of workers, and the poisoning of the environment.

  • At an August 18, 2000, campaign rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Gore stated: “You know, we need to keep the waters of our nation clean and pure so children always have safe drinking water. We need to make sure the air is clean and fresh for them to breathe. We need to take on the global problems like global warming. We need to care about the future and join together to make sure the environment and the economy go together hand in hand for future generations, create the good, new jobs for the future, building the new technologies that can clean up pollution and create good, new jobs at the same time.”
  • During an October 11, 2000, presidential debate, Gore responded to a general question about the environment by speaking at length about global warming:

MODERATOR: New question, new subject. Vice President Gore, on the environment. In your 1992 book you said, quote, “We must make the rescue of our environment the central organizing principle for civilization and there must be a wrenching transformation to save the planet.” Do you still feel that way?

GORE: I do. I think that in this 21st century we will soon see the consequences of what's called global warming. There was a study just a few weeks ago suggesting that in summertime the north polar ice cap will be completely gone in 50 years. Already people see the strange weather conditions that the old timers say they've never seen before in their lifetimes. And what's happening is the level of pollution is increasing significantly. Now, here is the good news, Jim. If we take the leadership role and build the new technologies, like the new kinds of cars and trucks that Detroit is itching to build, then we can create millions of good new jobs by being first into the market with these new kinds of cars and trucks and other kinds of technologies.

From the April 24 edition of PBS' Frontline:

AMOS: In the 2000 campaign, Al Gore had the reputation as the strongest environmentalist ever to run for president.

GORE: Now, I want to talk about the environment here today, because we have a situation where the big polluters are supporting Governor Bush, and they are wanting to be in control of the environmental policies.

AMOS: But candidate Gore rarely mentioned global warming or talked about mandatory carbon caps.

FORMER SEN. TIMOTHY WIRTH (D-CO): The politics was so divisive. They wrapped all of the -- any problems with Kyoto around Gore's neck. The Republicans were going to try to beat him up on this very -- you know, really as aggressively as they possibly could. What did they call him? “Ozone Al” or whatever he was called.

BUSH: In Texas, we passed one of the toughest laws --

AMOS: Then, Texas Governor George W. Bush outflanked Gore on Gore's own turf.

BUSH: My opponent calls for voluntary reductions in such emissions. In Texas, I think we've done it better -- with mandatory reductions. And I believe the nation can do better as well.

AMOS: Bush surprised many, by backing mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.


AMOS: Within a week of receiving the letter from the Republican senators, President Bush signed off on a reply. He would reverse his campaign pledge on carbon emissions.