Al Gore Emerging -- Presidency Secondary to Global Warming?

A growing number of Republican legislators on Capitol Hill have reportedly told the White House in recent weeks that they part company with the administration on the subject of global warming. President Bush continues to insist that greenhouse gas emissions cuts should be voluntary. Bush even said recently that "the fundamental debate is, is [global warming] manmade or natural," although virtually all credible climate scientists around the world agree it's manmade.

There is also increasing talk on the Hill that -- and here is where the rubber (even literally) hits the road -- there must and will soon be legislation imposing caps on carbon emissions from America's smokestacks.

This is not really new news. Coal and oil executives have talked for years, at least privately, about the inevitability of caps on carbon emissions because of the great dangers of global warming. Some have even pleaded for it, privately, saying they were ready to do it but needed to be made to do it "in lockstep."

Is Gore's new Alliance for Climate Protection a stealth move in a political campaign for the White House? Hard to see how. There doesn't seem to be much stealth about what he's doing. It's rather the opposite: He's fighting to get Americans to realize we must all become energy efficient and drastically cut greenhouse emissions.

Will Americans see his leadership in a "planetary emergency" as an admirable, and possibly absolutely necessary, quality in the next president?

That's an open question, and one that at least some of the people who attend to his new group and see his movie will probably feel is secondary to the enormous question of the emergency itself.

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