Let me go back to Texas, for example — for a minute. We pay $4.7 billion — I can’t emphasize — tell you how much. I signed a bill that puts CHIPs in place. The bill finally came out at the end of the ’99 session. We’re working hard to sign up children. We’re doing it faster than any other — than any other state our size, comparable state. We’re making really good progress.
And our state cares a lot about our children. My priority is going to be the health of our citizens. These folks have had eight years to get something done in Washington, D.C., on the uninsured; they have not done it. They’ve had eight years to get something done on Medicare, and they have not got it done.
And my case to the American people is, if you’re happy with inactivity, stay with the horse, the horse that’s up there now. But if you want change, you need to get somebody who knows how to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get positive things done for America.
LEHRER: 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 many 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.
You know, the Japanese are breathing down our necks on this. They’re moving very rapidly because they know that it is a fast- growing world market.
And some of these other countries, particularly in the developing world, their pollution is much worse than anywhere else and their people want higher standards of living, and so they’re looking for ways to satisfy their desire for a better life and still reduce pollution at the same time.
I think that holding on to the old ways and the old argument that the environment and the economy are in conflict, is really outdated. We have to be bold. We have to provide leadership.
Now, it’s true that we disagree on this.
The governor said that he doesn’t think this problem is necessarily caused by people. He’s for letting the oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Houston’s just become the smoggiest city in the country, and Texas is number one in industrial pollution.
We have a very different outlook. And I’ll tell you this, I will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our economy.
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