Global warming: what the right is listening to


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

April 14, 2007
In a Filmdom Premiere, a Foe for Gore

SAN FRANCISCO, April 13 ‹ The screening here on Thursday night had many elements
of a classic film-world shindig. There were gift bags and television cameras, 
cold cocktails and hot popcorn. Ushers showed V.I.P.¹s to their seats, and local
politicos rubbed shoulders with the movie¹s backers and flacks.

In fact, according to the movie¹s star, Steven F. Hayward, there was only one 
thing missing from what could have otherwise been a typical Hollywood opening: 

³I don¹t know how much of the enemy we have here tonight,² said a smiling Mr. 
Hayward, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, 
based in Washington. ³San Francisco is usually a target-rich environment.²

The occasion for the festivities was the world premiere of Mr. Hayward¹s filmic 
debut, ³An Inconvenient Truth...or Convenient Fiction?² It is a 
point-by-PowerPoint rebuttal of former Vice President Al Gore¹s global warming 
documentary, ³An Inconvenient Truth,² which played last summer in nearly 600 
theaters, won two Academy Awards (including the one for best documentary) and 
grossed nearly $50 million worldwide.

Mr. Hayward¹s movie is aiming somewhat lower, with a handful of free screenings 
planned over the next month, including one next week at the offices of the 
Heritage Foundation, another conservative Washington research group, where the 
film was shot. Mr. Hayward said the point of his 50-minute movie ‹ basically a 
lecture like ³Inconvenient Truth,² though half as long ‹ was to dispute Mr. 
Gore¹s depiction of potentially devastating consequences of global warming.

³I agree that we¹re warming,² he told a reporter, ³and I agree that we¹re 
playing a role in it. What I disagree with is his overall pessimism.²

Mr. Hayward spends more than a little time in his film attacking Mr. Gore, whom 
he calls ³an environmental extremist,² and poking fun at the style of 
³Inconvenient Truth,² including its hand-held camerawork, its arresting charts 
and its attention-grabbing props. At one point, for example, he mocks Mr. Gore¹s
dramatic use of a cherry picker to illustrate potentially soaring global 

³I¹m going to save some energy,² Mr. Hayward says, ³and use a ladder.²

That line was applauded by the 200 or so people who turned out on Thursday 
night. But global-warming bashing is not exactly a popular view in San 
Francisco, a green-is-gorgeous city that has banned Styrofoam, plastic bags and 
the like out of environmental concerns.

This is also solidly Gore country. The former vice president based his cable 
channel, Current TV, in San Francisco and keeps an apartment here. He took 75 
percent of the city¹s vote in the 2000 presidential election. Statewide, a 
recent Field poll showed, he would be supported by 25 percent of Democrats if he
were running for president again (he insists he is not); only Hillary Rodham 
Clinton (31 percent) scored higher.

All of which is to say that it¹s not easy being a global-warming skeptic ‹ or an
Al Gore skeptic ‹ in San Francisco.

³It¹s very much like being a Christian in the first century,² said Mike 
DeNunzio, former chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party and sacrificial 
lamb in the 2006 Congressional race against Representative Nancy Pelosi, who 
beat him with 80 percent of the vote. ³But there¹s two sides to every story, and
certainly we¹ve been hearing one side.²

Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, said Mr. Gore had not seen Mr. 
Hayward¹s film but was accustomed to attacks on his positions.

³Obviously Mr. Gore stands by the film,² Ms. Kreider said of ³Inconvenient 
Truth,² ³and we found that the mainstream scientific community agrees with its 
fundamental conclusions.²

Sally C. Pipes, president of the Hayward film¹s producer, the Pacific Research 
Institute, a ³free-market think tank² based here, said she felt that Mr. Hayward
³did a very good job of presenting the issue in a very balanced way.² Ms. Pipes 
also praised his ³movie star potential,² just moments before Mr. Hayward ‹ who 
is, well, big-boned ‹ confessed to being a little nervous about being on the 
silver screen. ³I¹m a little frightened of seeing myself that large,² he said.

For the most part, the audience seemed to enjoy the show, ³oohing² at comments 
about less-than-catastrophic ocean level increases and giggling at Mr. Hayward¹s
jabs. ³I like to say the climate is too important to be left to 
environmentalists,² he said.

In a post-screening question-and-answer session, several people said they were 
relieved to see a differing viewpoint presented, while others questioned whether
the idea of global warming might be ³sociological hysteria² or ³crying wolf.² 
One member of the audience wondered aloud whether God would have chosen Mr. Gore
to save the planet, an observation that went unanswered by Mr. Hayward.

Not everyone, however, was thrilled by the movie. Judith Anderson, 46, a local 
artist and self-described ³free-market fan² who had come to see the film because
she was ³interested in the rebuttal² to Mr. Gore¹s movie, gave the flick the 
ultimate thumbs-down.

³It was terribly boring,² Ms. Anderson said. ³I didn¹t get his point.²

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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