by Peter Freyne
Ten candidates for Chittenden County’s six state senate seats turnedout for a candidates forum at Community College of Vermont in downtownBurlington last night. About 70 students from several classes attended.Few of the students had ever heard of any of the candidates.
Each got up and gave their bio and told how much they want to serve Vermonters. State Sen. Ed Flanagan (D) goteveryone’s attention when he told the students he’d been in "a horriblecar accident" and had "a brush with death" back in November 2005.Returning to Burlington from Montpeculiar, Sen. Flanagan’s car shotoff the right side of I-89 just before the Richmond exit. He wasn’tfound until the following day and was in critical condition. They gothim just in time.
That’s Fast Eddie with fellow senators Diane Snelling (R) and Jim Condos (D) following last night’s class. Sen. Flanagan wasn't just "looking good," he was sounding good, too!
“I fully appreciate the importance of healthcare reform,” saidFlanagan. “My mission is universal high-quality healthcare. It’s verypersonal.”
Guess who got to ask the last question?
Your favorite local columnist, that’s who. And after 90 minutes oflistening to uncensored politcal BS, we raised an issue some inattendance might actually consider more important than calling forincreased state funding for education or, in the case of Republicanwanna-be-comeback-kid Dennis Delaney, a invitation to visit the candidate’s website.
But the Delaney remark that stood out to me was something he said about howhe’s just running for the state legislature and is therefore simply too powerlessto deal with a big issue like global warming.
“Could I please get a show of hands from the candidates?" I asked. "How many of you have bothered to go see the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth?"
Only three out of 10 state senate candidate hands went up: Ed Flanagan, State Sen. Virginia Lyons (D), who chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and newcomer Chuck Furtado(R), who said he just wrapped up a military career as a Lt. Colonel inthe Army and in his last job was the Inspector General of the VermontNational Guard. (Bet he has stories to tell, eh?)
The columnist in me couldn’t resist asking a rhetorical question: Howcan you possibly expect these young people to take you seriously if 70percent of you political leaders won’t even see the bedrock, must-seefilm that lays out in great and complete detail the No. 1 problemfacing our human world at this very moment?
Needless to say, that livened things up. In fact, on Wednesday morning,I heard from two of the non-movie-goer candidates who informed me theynow intend to see An Inconvenient Truth as soon aspossible. (It's still playing downtown at The Roxy). One was anincumbent, even admitted in an email to having been “afraid” to see it,just like I once was.
Don’t worry, Senator, you are not alone, but you are in charge. Andbefore you are able to tackle Mother Earth's man-madeglobal-warming crisis, you have to confront it.
It’s okay to be afraid. So was I last June when I realized that I, likemost friends and colleagues, had also managed to conveniently avoidseeing the heavyweight Gore flick. Maybe that's why the word"inconvenient" is in the title, eh?
It’s 90 minutes in a dark theater with the scariest truth out theretoday. Such an apt title. It is, after all, a very, very inconvenienttruth to accept. That the Earth's temperature is rising as a directresult of the fossil fuel combustion we Earthlings once thought merelyguaranteed we'd always live in "modern" times. That the glaciers arerapidly melting, the oceans are rising, weather patterns are shifting -all with calamatous impacts on the "modern" civilization we take for granted.
Until one really accepts the truth about global warming, one simply won’t be able to effectively address it.
Pretend isn't going to cut it.