Vice President Al Gore's environmental recordAired March 12, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE PAWELSKI, HOST:
Time was Al Gore was considered a card-carrying tree-hugger, taking shots for his environmental stands and trying not to get stuck with the nickname Ozone Man. But in this year's race for the White House, things are decidedly different.
PAWELSKI (voice-over): Green groups dogging Al Gore on the campaign trail, heckling him at debates and attacking him in print. Unexpected bumps on the campaign trail, for a man who wrote the book on the environment. Al Gore is used to taking heat for his green leanings from opponents on the right, including the last George Bush to run for the White House.
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GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know why I call him Ozone Man? This guy is so far off in the environmental extreme, we'll be up to our neck in owls and out of work for every American.
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PAWELSKI: Now Al Gore is finding some of his harshest critics attacking his environmental record from the left, instead. Some environmental groups say Vice President Gore's deeds haven't matched his words.
RICK HIND, GREENPEACE: Al Gore's rhetoric on the environment is great. Too bad, you know, after listening to the advertising, he doesn't have anything to sell at least when it comes to real world decisions.
PAWELSKI: Case in point: At a 1992 campaign stop, Gore pledged support for community groups opposed to a massive toxic waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be on your side for a change instead of on the side of the garbage generators. PAWELSKI: Despite the rhetoric, the incinerator is still in operation. Environmentalists are steamed at what they see as a broken promise.
HIND: Now is the time to honor that campaign promise and also protect East Liverpool.
PAWELSKI: Environmental groups are also questioning Gore's personal investments, including over $250,000 worth of Occidental Petroleum stock inherited from his father. Occidental wants to drill for oil on the ancestral lands of the native Uwa people of Colombia. Security forces there have been accused of human rights violations.
ATOSSA SOLTANI, AMAZON WATCH: What we are asking Gore to do is to divest his interest in Occidental Petroleum immediately. We want him to use his influence and make a difference in this issue.
PAWELSKI: Gore also faces criticism closer to home. A growing number of clear-cuts in the southeastern forests of the United States has environmentalists upset.
DOUG SLOANE, SOUTHEAST FOREST PROJECT: He says that the environment is an important issue to him. He really could step forward and make quite a difference in a region where he's from.
PAWELSKI: Despite the criticism, nobody's looking for the green vote to go Republican in November.
DEB CALLAHAN, LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: There is probably no candidate who's ever run for the presidency, who has been as informed and educated about these environmental issues as the vice president. So we believe that we'd have someone there who would be an ally, someone we could work with, someone we'd sometimes have to push.
PAWELSKI: As it has on the campaign trail, Gore's environment record could prove a mixed blessing if he is elected president. By talking about these issues, he has raised expectations, and environmentalists will keep pushing him to deliver.
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