On the Culture and the Climate: The Vice President Speaks out about TV's Social Impact, Fund Raising and Global Warming

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The vice president speaks out about TV's social impact, fund raising and global warming

AL GORE WAS IN California last week, where he appeared at an emergency-preparedness summit on El Nino, attended fund-raisers and addressed entertainment-industry executives in Hollywood. He spoke with NEWSWEEK'S Karen Breslau from Los Angeles. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Were you surprised by the controversy over your "Ellen" comments?

GORE: It was in a section of the speech about how the industry has helped the country to deal with issues facing the country responsibly. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" was a controversial movie when it came out. But it helped the country to make progress on the issue of race. "The Day After" was a noble effort to help the country deal with the issue of nuclear war. I think the entertainment industry has tried to deal with a lot of difficult issues in a thoughtful way.

Most of the commentary about the "Ellen" show took place back when the show appeared. That's long since washed through the system, with people coming to grips with how they feel about it. I would not have been surprised at all if every paper in America had played this story on page B5, the third paragraph from the bottom, since it was all hashed out a [while] ago. It's fine with me if some papers say this is something that needs to be hashed out all over again. You know, the headline in the Los Angeles Times was GORE REMINDS HOLLYWOOD TO BE RESPONSIBLE. That's what I was aiming for.

The Justice Department is investigating whether your chief fund raiser, Peter Knight, lobbied improperly on behalf of a corporate client who contributed to your campaign. How do you explain the relationship between the company's donation to your campaign and the awarding of a government contract to that same company?

None whatsoever. There is absolutely none.

You warned that climate change would bring an "environmental holocaust." Doesn't that argue for setting the bar for an international treaty to reduce greenhouse -- gas emissions as high as possible? …