Gore Film Garners Praise and Backlash

ByJake Tapper

Jan. 25, 2007 — -- The presidency may have eluded former Vice President Al Gore, but Gore and his work on climate change remain very much in the news, garnering both awards and controversy.

This week Gore seems a favorite to have a hand in an Oscar. Tuesday the documentary Gore inspired and narrated, "An Inconvenient Truth," was nominated for two Academy Awards -- best documentary feature and best song. The film is the third-highest grossing documentary in American history, behind "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "March of the Penguins."

"I am thrilled for our director Davis Guggenheim, producers Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Burns and co-producer Lesley Chilcott," Gore said in a statement. "The film they created has brought awareness of the climate crisis to people in the United States and all over the world."

Producer Laurie David said she was excited about the notion that the nomination would mean "thousands more people are going to see this movie now. And -- a girl can dream -- maybe the current administration will say, 'Well, what's all the fuss about?' Lets see this thing!'"

David says she fantastizes that first lady Laura Bush will now say, "'Hey, George, it's been nominated for an Academy Award. Let's sit down and watch it.'"

Gore plans to walk the red carpet and attend the Feb. 25 awards ceremony. "He will be coming onstage with us if we win," David insists. "If we win, it will be because of his dedication, his 30 years of research and work on behalf of this issue. That man needs to be standing at that podium, and I'll be very, very proud to be standing behind him, along with the other producers and the director."

Gore said in a statement, "This film proves that movies really can make a difference." But at Lakota Junior High School, outside Tacoma, Wash., one parent has worked hard to make sure that Gore's film doesn't make a difference with students. His outrage over the film being shown even resulted in a moratorium on the film being shown to students in the Federal Way school district.

Earlier this month, Frosty E. Hardison, a self-described "independent-thinking Republican," was chagrined to hear that his 13-year-old daughter Britney's science teacher was planning on showing the Gore film.

"A lot of scientific facts are missing from Al Gore's video," Hardison tells ABC News. "I didn't want the misconception that everything Al Gore says about this issue is all the truth and nothing but the truth."

Hardison, a 43-year-old data analyst with a software manufacturer, is an evangelical Christian. Hardison, his wife, Gayla, and seven children -- the oldest is 20, the youngest was born Jan. 3 -- attend the Grace Church and Casey Treat's Christian Faith Center, and Hardison says he "adamantly" supports creationism. "Evolution theory still cannot be proved. It is a theory," he says.

His problem with "An Inconvenient Truth," Hardison says, is that it's "very, very focused on what a group of what -- OK, fine -- a majority of scientists say who talk about climatology. But it doesn't say anything about other sciences -- astrophycis, geology or any of the other highly potential causes of what our planet is going through."

This is not the first time the film has caused controversy. Last year, the National Science Teachers Association refused to accept 50,000 free copies of the DVD that the producers were donating so the film could be shown in schools. Laurie David wrote about the rejection of the offer in a Washington Post opinion piece, suggesting the rejection was because of the organization's desire for contributions from major oil companies for its capital campaign. The association later accepted the films.

On Monday, Jan. 9, Haridson says he sent an e-mail to the teacher to "vehemently protest" the scheduled showing of the film. When she didn't respond, he says he e-mailed the school district superintendent and others on the board, who notified him that they were going to stop the screening of the film that Friday and not permit the showing of the documentary in the school district -- at least temporarily.

"The board placed a moratorium on the showing of the film until the superintendent could ascertain that all policies had been followed and determine where else the film had been shown," Diane A. Turner, a spokeswoman for Federal Way Public Schools, tells ABC News.

In Los Angeles, David was befuddled and angered to hear the news, calling it the result of "misinformation and ignorance."

"This film is based on science," David says. "Science is fact. Since when is fact controversial? And to have an esteemed former vice president of the United States deliver the information only gives it credibility and seriousness."

David says that Norway, Scotland and Sweden have made the film required viewing in their schools.

After two weeks of heated debate within the community, the moratorium was lifted at a school board meeting on Tuesday. But not before David Larson, the school board member who first suggested the moratorium, decried "the lack of civility exhibited by some in the last two-week period."

Larson said the heated debate was an "atmospheric phenomenon … destroying our country by forcing honest discussions by honest people into the shadows for fear of being slammed from the right, slammed from the left, and sometimes slammed from both sides."

Hardison says he's happy. "We came to a consensus at the conclusion of the meeting. The school will show the scientific portion of the movie to the class as well as other sources that dispute it."

He says this will likely include a visit to the school from Kay Jones, a former science adviser to President Nixon, who believes that the research data on climate change does not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful, and that there is even evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is good for the environment. Jones lives nearby, Hardison says, and "volunteered to provide his research as well. He has a lot of information that the global warming thing we're going through right now is cyclical and something the earth naturally goes through."

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