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Interview with Former Vice President Al Gore

By The NewsHour, The NewsHour - January 31, 2013

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JEFFREY BROWN: And now to our interview with former Vice President Al Gore.

Since he conceded the 2000 presidential election, Mr. Gore's of course become best known for his advocacy on climate change issues, work that led to both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award. Lately, his business and corporate connections have also been in the news, when he sold his cable channel, Current TV, to Al-Jazeera, the network owned by the government of Qatar in the Persian Gulf.

Gore is back in print now with a new book titled "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," examining major shifts in science, technology, the global economy, and American democracy.

I spoke to him earlier today.

Al Gore, welcome.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE, United States: Thank you.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, you wrote that someone asked you years ago about the driving forces of the future. That's how this book started.

But I wonder, now that you're done ...

AL GORE: Yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: ... what is it? What is this book? Is it a warning, a wakeup call? What are you trying to tell us about the future?

AL GORE: Well, I have always been fascinated with those who try to look over the horizon and see things that are coming at us.

And many of the changes now under way have arisen out of the still accelerating scientific and technological revolution and the hyper-growth that we have in the global civilization and economy in which we now live.

Years ago, C.P. Snow wrote a famous essay about the two cultures, saying that the culture in science and technology on the one hand was increasingly separate from popular culture. And I think that's true. And what I have done at times in my career is try to get these expert communities to exercise enough patience to repeat things in simple language, so that I can understand them, and then try to communicate them.

And I have done that in this book.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what's interesting, you have -- you have -- you tackle very big issues in technology and science and you tackle some very nitty-gritty issues of our time.

And I want to focus in on one of them, is the breakdown of politics.

AL GORE: Yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, you write about -- use the expression that democracy is being hacked.

AL GORE: Has been hacked.

JEFFREY BROWN: You attribute this to an influence of big money.

AL GORE: Yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: What does that mean? We just had an election. Is the process tainted?

AL GORE: Well, when you use the word taint, it implies a lack of legitimacy. And I don't want to imply that.

I do think that it has been degraded and it has been partially, significantly captured. I first went to the Congress, the House of

Representatives, in the '70s, and I have watched the arc of this degradation. And it is connected to the influence of big money.

It's also partly an outgrowth of a tectonic shift from the early days of our republic, when the printing press and the public square that was informed by the printing press has been replaced by television. Now Americans watch television five hours a day, those my age and older seven hours a day on average. Somebody is making up for us. But, as a result, the role of money has been greatly increased. So...

JEFFREY BROWN: But to what impact? To the sense that we can't pass legislation?

AL GORE: Correct.

JEFFREY BROWN: And affecting our elections as well?

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