The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

An Inconvenient Personality …
June 23, 2007, 3:28 am
Filed under: Comment

First of all I want to acknowledge how lucky I am to have even been in the situation to meet Al Gore … plus I want to celebrate the fact that he is taking on such an important issue when it would have been so much easier to sit at home and enjoy a quiet life with his family … finally, it should be noted he genuinely cares about this crisis and while I suspect a Presidential nomination is on its way, I don’t believe he is taking on this issue for publicity reasons.

OK?   Good … that’s the caveat over with.

Maybe it’s because when I first met Bob Geldof I was blown away by his passion [plus he is a genuine hero of mine] … maybe it’s because when Al Gore was in Government he didn’t take on this issue with as much focus and passion as he does today … maybe it’s because on his TedTalk he was so bloody good … maybe it’s because talking to an advertising person about global warming is out of his comfort zone … maybe it’s because it was so bloody hot [and he was sweating alot] … maybe it’s because he had much bigger [as well as better ] things to do … maybe it’s because he was putting more wine in his mouth than food … maybe it’s because he was wearing a ridiculous pair of cowboy boots … maybe it’s because I was so bloody hungry [and didn’t want to talk with my mouth full] … maybe it’s because I spent the first 10 minutes thinking “HOLY SHIT I’M TALKING TO AL GORE” … maybe it’s because as a politician, he’d been trained to control his passion … maybe it’s because I couldn’t stop looking at how bloody fat he is [not nice, but he really is huuuuuge!] … maybe it’s because in ‘An Inconvienient Truth’ he was giving a presentation he’d been doing for years  … maybe it’s because I was trying to tell if his wife had a facelift [she looks really good for her age!] … maybe it’s because when I asked him a rather politically charged question*, he answered in a typically political way [ie: not answering it at all] … maybe it’s because I’m an evil, cynical shit … but for whatever reason it was, I can say I went away feeling  – and I do admit to a sense of shame in saying this – rather underwhelmed.

As I said, I LOVE what he is trying to do [and I don’t care that some say he doesn’t practice what he preaches] … but unfortunately his mannerisms, posture and monotone, charisma-free delivery left me feeling rather unmoved.

Yes I am probably going to go to hell for saying that but that’s the truth.

Don’t get me wrong, he is a genuinely nice bloke … but you get the impression that when he talks about the environment, he switches to ‘Robot Al Mode’ because he either starts regurgitating masses of facts and figures … drops a bundle of names [most of which I’d never heard of] … or uses really obscure quotes where your brain stops listening to what he is saying and tries to work out what the hell he was trying to convey.

I totally respect the man and as I said, there could be a billion reasons for why he didn’t live up to the expectations/image I had … but to me, the difference between when I met Geldof and when I met Gore [hahaha, I love the fact I can write that] is that one guy has had his passion trained out of him and while that might be good for American politics [though I would disagree with that] it’s fucking terrible when you meet a cynical old sod who wants to ‘feel’ what is being said, not just hear it.

So that’s it, Cannes is over … at least for me … and while I’ve generally had a good time, that’s more because I’ve caught up with old friends, seen current friends make complete arseholes of themselves, been out of the office and met Al Gore as opposed to actually enjoying the festival per se.

I won’t go into all the reasons why the awards left me abit cold as I think my previous posts pretty much cover it all … but without doubt, this Cannes has been the ‘Green Cannes’ [they even gave Al Gore a special ‘green lion’] and while that is all well and good, unless the industry starts making a conscious effort to help its clients to help make the World a better place, then it’s nothing but ego-wank talk.

Sure to achieve what I am saying will require better, broader, deeper thinking [ie: not going straight ‘to an ad’] but it can be done … it should be done … and it’ll ultimately benefit everyone – be it humanity, corporations and/or shareholders.

Last thing … an apology to Will and Lauren … I’m not going to be able to meet up this weekend I’m afraid. 

I am so sorry – I really wanted to catch up – but I am there for such a short time it’s going to be pretty much taken up with my management meeting and spending time with my Mum.  I hope you understand and when I am back next time, I promise to buy you both tea AND cake!!! Yes, I am that generous, ha!

With that I wish you all a top weekend and I’ll see you mid-next week as I’ll be in mad flying mode for the next few days.

* I said that given the USA is the largest contributor to global warming … would he say the World would be within its rights to declare war on America for continually using a weapon of mass destruction against humanity.

The wonderfully hungover Tom … minutes before going in to hear Gore’s speech. Between him and me, we put fashion back 100 years!

47 Comments so far
Leave a comment

What a brilliant question, no wonder he avoided it like the plague. I know you were expecting more from him, but how cool is it that you ate with “big” Al Gore! Who is next, Mandella?

Comment by Pete

did you ask the hilary / monica question? tell me you didnt chicken out? you fucking wimp.

and gore is a fat bastard is he? you wouldnt think it so can you get me the name of where he buys his fat fucker clothes.

ps; tom you are a fucking scruffy bastard legend

Comment by andy@cynic

Thats a fucking brilliant question.

Speaking of meets. I think you, myself, marcus and maybe andy/will/lauren etc should meet and discuss this confermit for next year. As we will need to start it moving very soon.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

While I didn’t have the honour of a private session with Mr Gore (I wouldn’t want to go, even if I had been invited) I agree his speech felt a bit anti-climatic. I think it was because it all seemed stage managed, right down to the bit at the end where he became a bit more animated and vocal. It was certainly interesting and he does seem to really care about the issue, but when you compare him to how Sir Bob or Richard Branson talk, he does come across as having the Singapore version of passion. 🙂
And you’re right, he is huge. I spent half the time looking at how big he was and did you see his cuban healed shoes?

Comment by George

that’s a bit shit that he’s such a politician. i’m not surprised, but still, it’s a bit of a shit. i hate it when people act like their stereotype ‘cos people just tune out after a while.

and that’s fine about this weekend – in fact, i’m glad. firstly because i had a weird dream that you and marcus were drunk, stealing fish out of john grant’s fish tank and riding his antique skateboards around euston station and that would be tough to top (don’t ask!). and secondly, because it means that you’re spending time with your mum, which is super fucking important.

next time, gadget, next time.

Comment by lauren

Great question. Classic moral philosophy. I’m impressed. I like.


Anti climatic/Singapore passion. Is that like a ‘I’m having an orgasm laa?’

^5 guys!

Comment by Charles Frith

With questions like that, you truly are your Fathers son. Wonderful question though I assume this now means you will be doing more work with Mr Geldof than Mr Gore. No matter, neither are exactly wanting for money. Come visit us soon.

Comment by Wayne Green

And would you mind telling me how you got to break bread with Mr Gore in the first place? I am assuming, or should I say hoping, it was the involvement of your influential friends, because the thought that Gore himself wished to speak to you is too much for little old me to bare.

Comment by Wayne Green

Nice question Rob – and nice for not backing down in the situation.

No problem about not meeting up – I’ll hold you to tea and cake when we all next meet up. 😉

Comment by Will

It was a great post and I love your openness (as always) but here’s my question: Do people have to be charismatic to get things done?

I know that’s not what you were saying. I think you were hoping for more honesty. But what if he’s really bad at public speaking and meeting strangers and answering controversial questions (that he could easily answer wrong get spun in the media in a way that harms his chance to do more good.)

Clearly he is bad at it.

Look, that kind of wooden auto pilot bugs me too. But Bush got elected based on his charm and look where that got us.

I guess what I’m saying is that it feels like a small point to tear him down on. And each time we do that, it take away a tiny piece of his effectiveness to get more things done.

Maybe I’m saying this too, because I feel like we need strong symbols in this cause right now. And (until he runs for President) he still is that. Ironically, its probably his geek-ness that got him so deeply into this issue. I actually have a text book from uni that he co-wrote.

Anyway, my two cents. Have a great rest of your trip. -Em

Comment by Emily

you didn’t do it did you? you know what I’m talking about.

Comment by Marcus Brown

has rob let you down too marcus. shame, fucking shame. now to break the habit of a lifetime and seriously comment about emily’s comment.
emily i know what youre saying, a man should not be judged by his charisma alone but most successful “movements” have a person at the top who is charismatic, passionate/angry, empathetic, engaging and a voice of the masses because this makes issues relevant and interesting to them and taps into the human need of wanting someone to “believe in and follow”.

sure, this “charisma approach” has led to certain terrible appointments (the appointments of Hitler, Thatcher, Bush to name a few) but without it, there is little hope of making any movement snowball unless the public see and feel the issues impacting their life on a massive negative daily basis.

in gore’s case i think there are a number of unfortunate things going for him. first is hes a politician and the general public generally have a massive mistrust of them. then his environmental crucade has been picked up by the hollywood elite which might be good for publicity but also pisses off millions because it comes across as an elitist issue which either makes them think it doesnt affect them or at its worst makes them feel patronized. then as rob said, he didnt take on this problem when he had the greatest influence and power as part of the us government , then theres his wifes history of being involved in a far right organisaztion (pmrc?) that continually proclaimed extremist values that it believed americans should be following (she was behind the attempt to censor music) plus he is a multi millionaire which automatically makes people feel it is much easier for him to live by the code than for them (people dont like to feel “told off”) and finally theres his blurry background in private life environmental actions, so when you put all this together with his lack of personality, you start to realise that as great as what he is trying to do, he could fail to get the traction he needs to make the world a heathier land. i hope i am wrong but history seems to prove otherwise which is why if i was him, id save my cash and not run for president, its only going to end in tears.

fuck, i managed to do it, how good am i? i am fucking good.

Comment by andy@cynic

What a great comment Andy (and yours Emily), packed with insight and issues. That’s the real Andy and maybe you should let him out on this blog more often. 🙂

Comment by George

Yes. Yes he should.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Nice one Andy!

I still think An inconvenient personality is the best post headline ever. I’m well chortled up I am 🙂

Comment by Charles Frith

Hi Andy. I didn’t realize that you are so rarely serious. I’m honoured. Just to be clear, I’m in no way holding Gore on a pedestal or suggesting he run for president (please God, no). But my question remains: What is the point of tearing him down right now? Now when he’s doing a hell of lot of good.

Comment by Emily

Id rather Al Gore than any member of the republican party whatsoever.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I dunno. Colin Powell would make a great US President.

Comment by Will

hi emily, i dont think rob is tearing gore down, hes just commenting on what he thought when he met the fat yank. rob did say how behind gores cause he is (remember he was invited by them), its just he was expecting more inspiration and passion, but then when you are dealing with geldof, its a hard act to follow. and dont worry emily, no one reads robs shit so gores popularity wont be affected. 🙂 and charles youre right, campbell pulled out the big guns with that headline. makes a pleasant change.

Comment by andy@cynic

If you’d replaced the US with China (which apparently is now the premier contributer to global warming) would his answer have been any different?

Comment by John Dodds

Excellent point John, but on a per capita basis, the USA is still the biggest contributor to global warming. China has just taken ”the lead”(over the USA again) in volume levels (with India close behind) but it still is generally accepted America has caused the greatest problem to the environment over the past century. Rob, when you are back online, can you tell us how Gore avoided your question and whether you think his reply would have been different if you had swapped America for China as John suggests

Comment by George

I’m actually stoked that you didn’t do the typical sucking up Gore’s ass reaction as most people probably do.

Comment by Age

C’mon John the U.S. had the 21st century to itself and the onus is on now on them to set an example. The greediest nation in the history of the world needs to do the right thing. China is only just joining the consumer culture that the West sold them as an alternative to communism. Which inicidentally is looking like the only structure in place that can replace the greedy wealth creation model that creates the environmental mess in the first place. You heard it here first!

Comment by Charles Frith

Yes, how dare China with its population of more than 4 times that of the US overtake it in pollution…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i fucking hate this whole “you fucked up more than they did” business. the australian govt. hides behind this all the time, as do a bunch of other guilty parties.

really, the fact of the matter is that we all shat on the planet and it’s up to all of us to clean it up – like in a sharehouse, people – everyone makes the bathroom and the kitchen a pigsty, everyone has to pitch in clean it! all of this chatter (and i don’t mean on this blog, i mean generally speaking) is wasting time.

and while I agree that galvanising people to act does need someone who’s not a cardboard cut out of a personality (exhibit a, al gore), focusing on the personality and not the principle is really just avoiding the problem. again.

Comment by lauren

You are right Lauren, we live in a World of excuses and in a perfect World we’d all club together and fix the situation, but unfortunately the implications are that it will cost outrageous amounts of money and people tend to care more about their own situations when that occurs than that of the planet. I do think that the US has to bare the biggest burden because regardless of the population discrepency with India and China, they have been the biggest contributors to global warming for centuries and I’d argue that they still are, given so much of the population from Chinese and Indian industry comes from the manufacture of goods from US owners. There’s no easy situation and its not about passing blame, but that is why I loved Rob’s question because sadly the American people are very happy to have all the wealth but take no responsibility to how they achieved it.

Comment by Pete

I am just proud you were invited to meet Al Gore and I know Dad would feel the same. Mum x

Comment by Fiorella Campbell

it’s nice to see you on here again mrc c! i hope you got to have a lovely time with your son back home.

i can totally see the practicality of what you’re saying pete and rob, that rant was not a ‘you asked a stupid question’ kind of rant – far, far from it. i agree that the US needs to take an enormous amount of responsibility for the damage it has done, just not dependent on the amount that other countries are doing.

Comment by lauren

hello mrs c, how are you doing? i hope rob has behaved himself while hes been with you. we are also proud (well, kind of) of your son, because he is a mischievious and inquisitive little fuck 🙂 who doesnt back down from asking the big questions whether he is talking to a client or an ex vice president. someone said with questions like the one he asked gore, he was definitely his fathers son, but i know you had a big part to play in his principals and i want to thank you for that when I see you next.

Comment by andy@cynic

Great post, brilliant question Rob and some equally brilliant comments. Andy, you’re a very insightful man.

About the environment…..Selfishness and accountability aversion are global, human epidemics that are here to stay. Whilst laws and regulations can help tremendously (along with raising awareness of issues which Gore is doing a great job at), it takes active engagement and action from the demand-generators of our economies – us consumers – before we’ll really be able to come to tackle the global warming and other environmental issues. In developing countries such as India and China, ordinary people have far more pressing issues on the agenda, such as survival to name one. I think there are two components (or phases) to this problem. Both are direct results of our unwillingness to sacrifice convenience (and money – it’s expensive to be green!).

a) Some of us are unaware of the environmental impact of our own consumption and lifestyles, which is almost entirely due to ignorance; we would all know how to consume if we saw real, personal and immediate benefits. We don’t.

b) Even if we become aware, we’re not willing to make the changes necessary in our own consumption habits and lives to make a positive difference (Andy pointed to the blurry background of Gore’s private life green actions). It’s easier to criticise the manufacturing industry and politicians, for example, than to take the bus to work in stead of driving a V8 SUV. Saying no to those delicious, imported exotic fruits or cheeses is not an option either. And who would want to take a holiday in their home country when that exotic place on the other side of the globe seems so fascinating?

It’s long overdue that the US gets its act together on this issue and starts leading by example. But as consumers, we bloody suck at it too. I do, and I am absolutely sure most of you do too. Hypocritical isn’t it?

(As an aside, it would be interesting if someone had the time and energy to calculate/estimate Gore’s personal contribution to the CO gas problem given he basically lives on an airplane. Now I am not suggesting he should stop traveling, but it would be interesting to know nevertheless.)

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Hello Fred, nice to have you back and a great comment. I think this is in line with Rob’s ”champagne socialism” position; where many people demand massive improvements but don’t want it to affect their lifestyles. All credit to Gore, he buys carbon credits to counteract his near constant airplane travels but as Andy said, that’s like cheating on your wife then buying her flowers. Still, it’s a very positive example and is probably miles ahead of the Hollywood elite who also claim to ”live green”.

Comment by George

Like the hollywood movie stars who drive their Toyota Prius to the airport then fly a private jet.

Whilst Al Gore may not be the most perfect example, he has probably done more to highlight environmental issues to the US than anyone else. If it takes a wooden US style ‘personality’ to start bringing the state of our world to the attention of the worst polluters around then so be it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Can anyone be that perfect? If he manages to get the US to do ANYTHING but talk I’ll wash his private jet for him, nay, I’ll lick it clean.
Rob, he’s probably read you’re blog and was more nervous than you.

Comment by NP

And I know it should have been ‘your’ before you start

Comment by NP

rob, just met lawrence baxter from greenpeace who told me that despite all this environmental publicity, the volume of greenhouse emissions from the us is increasing which explains why gore shat himself over your question. what he is doing is great but listening and doing are mutually exclusive in many parts of america. fuck im taking this very seriously, im impressing myself. where the fuck are you, i seek your undying praise and an answer to how gore handled your curly. going to bed, answer by morning.

Comment by andy@cynic

He’s just a man.

Comment by Marcus

He’s a planner.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Bloody hell, I come back and check out this thread and IT HASN’T GONE INTO SURREAL MADNESS!

Hell, even Andy is showing his normal side [he isn’t really the bad tempered shit he tries to come across as] and I am really interested in where people are going with this.

Emily and Lauren … I am absolutely pro-environment and my comments about Gore were not meant to undermine what he is doing, more to provide a viewpoint as regards how/why he is not getting as much traction as he could/should.

I do love Andy’s point that listening and doing are very separate things [just like awareness and sales eh!] and maybe if he acted more as a background political negotiator rather than the spokeperson/figure head, he may ultimately achieve even greater levels of success.

Who knows … but it has to happen and hopefully I’ll be able to do my bit with some news in the next few months [fingers crossed!]

Comment by Rob

I hope this is the news ive been listening out for for many months now! It deserves to happen.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Yes … it does Mr M, but its all dependent on a particular individual who ‘rainchecked’ me on Saturday, ha! News as soon as he stops being interviewed by big-wigs and calls me up, hahaha!

Comment by Rob

Raincheck? Boo!!
Lets hope..!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Great posts and great comments. I think Gore has done a great job to spread a VIP message far and wide. But I agree, if he was a visionary speaker, this message would have a much more powerful impact.

Sure, he isn’t the most perfect crusader, but who is? To begin, anything takes a few passionate likeminded people coming together with a common goal. Like Margaret Mead said “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

Mr M, your fantastic idea for a conference, or seminar (whatever you have decided to call it) reminds me of the above quote. I think with people like ‘you lot’ in the industry positive changes will continue to happen.

Comment by Jade

Rob, I loved your question too.

Comment by Jade

Thanks Jade. I hope it will all go to plan!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Jade you hit the nail on the head … Gore is a VIP speaker, not a man who can inspire the masses to come together.

Again this is not a criticism, it’s just one of the critical factors to address if the environmental issue is going to move from awareness to action.

And before I go, I don’t think having people like Leonardo di Caprio, Chris Martin and every other Hollywood star is neccesarilly going to change that attitude because as Andy said, it has the potential to become an ‘elitist issue’ and not something that the masses feel they can be included/involved in.

I remember years ago when Australia was voting for a republic the mood was for change but then when every Aussie star came out saying it was time … the older Australians rose up and voted against it leaving Her Maj still in charge of convict land.

Too often the right answer hasn’t been achieved because people felt common sense would prevail … the things is, humans are complex and complicated beasts and unless you appreciate the subtelties and psychology of their needs/wants, you can often find yourself the bridesmaid and never the bride.

We cannot let this happen with this issue!

Comment by Robert

No, no we cant.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I third that!

Comment by Jade

Leave a Reply