Many of you were fascinated to read last week that 1,200 tickets for a speech by Al Gore disappeared in 10 minutes - in Idaho. As I wrote then, the demand convinced Boise State University officials to move the former VP's January 22 address to the Taco Bell Arena.
Well guess what? When those seats went on sale Tuesday, all 10,000 were snapped up in less than five hours. Two thousand tickets were held back for Boise State students, many of whom won't be back on campus until winter break ends next week.
"I understand the tickets went faster for this than for the Elton John concert," says Garry Wenske, director of the BSU-based Frank Church Institute, which is bringing in Gore to keynote its "Global Warming: Beyond the Inconvenient Truth" conference. (The British pop star's concert last fall nearly sold out in a day - but not quite.)
The Idaho Statesman newspaper noted that Gore is a far bigger draw than Boise State's basketball team, which - forever playing in the shadow of the Fiesta Bowl-winning football team - typically has a tough time drawing more than a few thousand fans to its games at the TBA. As the paper's editorial board wrote yesterday:
That goes to show, if you'll allow the cheap and inevitable pun, that a speech on global warming can be a hot ticket.
What's going on here? This is Idaho, where Gore got less than 30% of the vote in his 2000 race against George W. Bush. Granted, he did a little better (35%) in Ada County, where Boise is located. (Boise has trended solidly Demward in the six years since; its state legislators are now all Democrats.) But still: What's behind the fascination for Gore in this ruby-red part of the country? From my Red State Rebels blog:
Wenske says the interest in Gore and his message seems genuinely nonpartisan. "When you think about global warming, it transcends everything people do," he notes, though he added that people also seem to be responding to how Gore has taken the issue "and made it his own."
As I noted there, too:
It'll be interesting to see whether people will also pack the main conference sessions, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Union Jordan Ballroom (the original site for Gore's evening address). Wenske says the morning programs will focus on policy solutions to global warming, while the afternoon sessions will look at practices, including what some local companies are doing to develop and implement energy-saving solutions. "We'll bring it down to what people are doing in Idaho," Wenske adds.
Clearly, some people still view Al Gore as a dangerous man, such as the fundamentalist parent in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way who doesn't his children to view An Inconvenient Truth. (See diaries on that here and here. Isn't it funny that someone who doesn't believe in climate change is named ... Frosty?!)
But when he can attract a crowd of 10,000 people to a speech in Boise, Idaho, it's a sign that a) politically, Gore is definitely more of a rock star than he was in 2000 and b) his message on climate change is resonating across the political spectrum. Whether or not he makes another bid for the White House, Gore is helping forge bipartisan will for addressing one of the most important issues of our time.