More Lame ‘Green’ News from Miami

Er, make that “snooze room.” Although I’m not able to attend the Serve to Preserve climate summit, Gov. Charlie Crist’s PR people are keeping my inbox full of the most up-to-date press releases about all the important, meaningful stuff that’s happening at the Hotel Inter-Continental.

Gosh, it’s almost like being there, but without having to pay $30 for a box lunch!

For instance, here’s Crist’s keynote address — titled “Green Technology Drives Green Economies” from this morning’s opening ceremony, or at least a few of the good bits, translated for your convenience:

Just as last year’s summit launched Florida into a new era of action to address climate change, this year’s summit will define our next steps forward. We recognize the undeniable link between our state’s environment and our economy. And this year, we want to gain a better understanding of that link. We must consider all of the possibilities, including those within our reach, and those we can only envision at this point in time.

Translation: It’s been an entire year, and we haven’t done jack, but we’re fixing to get ready to do something soon. The link between the environment and our economy lies in oil reserves off our beaches. Nobody can envision what I’m going to do next because they don’t know what pharmaceuticals I have taken.

Yesterday, I had the honor of officially witnessing the first steps of what will be a historic strategy to save America’s Everglades. It was a moment as significant to our environment as the creation of our nation’s first national park, or the creation of Everglades National Park itself. The South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Sugar Corporation signed a Statement of Principles to begin dialog that — in my humble opinion — can lead to reviving the River of Grass. If all goes as anticipated, we will acquire nearly 300 square miles of the Everglades — and within this historic acquisition, we will once and for all be able to move, store and clean water to re-connect Lake Okeechobee to Everglades National Park. The famed River of Grass is one of the most unique landscapes in our country — and on earth — and it is within our grasp to ensure her protection for generations to come.

Translation: This probably won’t save the Everglades, but it will give Big Sugar a sweetheart deal for the next six years, and lookee — there’s your “green and gold” connection again. Of course, the deal will screw all the farmers and fishermen who live in small, poor communities around Lake Okeechobee, but that’s just the cost of saving our environment.

While tremendous challenges stand before us, we can rise to face them. Americans — and especially Floridians — are capable of extraordinary innovation when we marshal our resources and focus on a common goal.

Translation: As long as that goal isn’t free and fair elections in which every vote is counted, that is.

As I stated last week, only when we are able to do so far enough from Florida’s coast, safe enough for our people and clean enough for our beaches, should we consider increasing our oil supply by drilling off Florida’s shores. Let me repeat that’s far enough, safe enough and clean enough.

Translation: See, I didn’t flip-flop, I was misunderstood.

And there are other industries where Floridians have the potential to reach new heights. This Saturday, the State of Florida will break ground on our newest veterans’ nursing home in St. Johns County. Expected to open its doors in December 2009, it will be the first nursing home in Florida to be LEED-certified. It will be a “green” facility. Its design, construction and operation will meet national standards as a high-performance, sustainable building. Recycled materials will be used, and it is designed to use less water and less energy than conventionally built facilities. Congratulations, Admiral Collins, on your leadership — not only in answering the call to serve your nation and our veterans, but in answering the call of conservation and energy efficiency.

Translation: With two wars under way, veterans needing ongoing hospital treatment is a growth industry. We should build more energy-efficient veterans care centers in Florida.

This legislation protects our natural resources, stimulates our economy and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. We will increase our energy efficiency, support the development of renewable energy, and allow businesses flexibility in meeting our goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol will make up 10 percent of Florida’s total fuel supply by 2010. The Public Service Commission will develop a renewable portfolio standard to increase the use of wind, solar and other renewable energy. Based on the unanimous vote in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, our state is now a leader within the Southeast in advancing the development of a cap-and-trade program. New buildings will be up to 50 percent more efficient by 2019 — like the veteran’s nursing home that breaks ground on Saturday. A Florida Energy Systems Consortium among our state universities will leverage the expertise of Florida’s research community to grow Florida’s green tech industry.

Translation: The drugs are really starting to kick in now.

Boffo Box Office for ‘Sicko’ Coming Soon Thanks to George Bush

The Bush administration is set to give Michael Moore’s new film “Sicko” millions of dollars in free publicity, potentially boosting it into the stratospheric range of Moore’s previous hit, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which grossed $222 million worldwide in 2004.

On Thursday, Moore announced that he had received a subpoena from the Justice Dept. He says the Bush administration is accusing him of failing to file some documents that are required to film in Cuba and that he thereby violated the Cuban embargo. Moore says journalists are not required to submit the documents in question.

This smacks of a classic Bushie vendetta, a petty swipe at a critic based on the silly hope that a subpoena and perhaps an indictment will silence him. As if. It is also the latest example of the White House political shop using the Justice Dept. to attack an opponent. Note the timing — the subpoena to Moore came within hours after Karl Rove received a subpoena from Democrats in Congress.

Subpoenaing Moore, like so many Bushevik tactics, is also a strategy designed to fail. If silencing Moore was the objective, his legal battles with the government will only give him a bigger soapbox. If tying him up in an expensive legal battle was the goal, the additional publicity will make him much richer than he would have been if the government had stayed out of it and more than offset the legal fees.

Not that “Sicko” isn’t doing quite well without Bush’s help. Despite rightwingers’ dire predictions that ticket sales would be anemic, in the three and a half weeks since “Sicko” went into wide release it has already grossed $20.3 million, and will soon surpass the $21.5 million in total domestic receipts made by “Bowling for Columbine,” for which Moore won the Best Documentary Oscar for 2002. “Sicko” hasn’t yet opened overseas.

With the free high-profile publicity from the government, especially if Moore is indicted, ticket sales for “Sicko” could surge into $200 million range of “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

And at this early stage, “Sicko” appears to be the strongest contender for the Best Documentary Oscar this year. If Hollywood types come to believe Michael Moore is being persecuted by George Bush, “Sicko” will be a shoe-in.


Celebrity Dirt Goes Green

We welcome a new addition to our blogroll, er, sorry Jon, “web sites list.” This one was discovered by Buck during his live reporting from Florida’s “Serve to Preserve” global warming conference.

Ecorazzi bills itself as The Latest in Green Gossip, with current features on Rob Lowe’s testimony in Washington on behalf of hybrids, Courtney Cox’s line of global warming awareness t-shirts, and Madonna’s new movie on Malawi. At last, a way to waste time on celebrity scoop while feeling virtuous. Thanks, Ecorazzi!

Good Thing for Angelina Jolie That Hypocrisy is Protected Speech

Angelina Jolie, who stars in the new film, “A Mighty Heart,” about murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, is promoting the movie and its pro-press freedom message while tightly controlling her own interactions with the media. At a premiere event Wednesday to benefit Reporters Without Borders, Jolie insisted that journalists sign a contractual agreement before she would grant an interview, and, according to FoxNews, tried to have the right-wing mouthpiece banned from the event.

Reporters from most major media outlets balked Wednesday when they were presented with an agreement drawn up by Jolie’s Hollywood lawyer Robert Offer. The contract closely dictated the terms of all interviews.

Reporters were asked to agree to “not ask Ms. Jolie any questions regarding her personal relationships. In the event Interviewer does ask Ms. Jolie any questions regarding her personal relationships, Ms. Jolie will have the right to immediately terminate the interview and leave.”

The agreement also required that “the interview may only be used to promote the Picture. In no event may Interviewer or Media Outlet be entitled to run all or any portion of the interview in connection with any other story. … The interview will not be used in a manner that is disparaging, demeaning, or derogatory to Ms. Jolie.”

If that wasn’t enough, Jolie also requires that if any of these things happen, “the tape of the interview will not be released to Interviewer.” Such a violation, the signatory thus agrees, would “cause Jolie irreparable harm” and make it possible for her to sue the interviewer and seek a restraining order.

Not very press friendly, eh? Associated Press and USA Today reporters refused to sign the contract and canceled their interviews. When she saw the general reaction, Jolie canceled all print interviews. It was only through the intervention of Paramount staff that a FoxNews video crew was allowed to tape the actress on the red carpet.

Reporters without border indeed.

Bush Admin Creates Big Buzz for Michael Moore’s New Film By Trying to Censor It

Just before Al Franken’s book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” was ready for publication in 2003, Bill O’Reilly became unhappy with the way he was portrayed in the book (even though Franken based the material on direct quotes from O’Reilly himself), and demanded that his employer, Fox News, sue Franken and the book’s publisher.

“The timing is amazing. You would think that we originated this. It reads like a fiction best-seller,” Weinstein said.

The lawsuit was ridiculous. It was also a magnificent backfire, generating the sort of publicity that book publishers cannot buy — turning “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” into a bestseller, thereby simultaneously exposing and underscoring O’Reilly’s fatheadedness. If only he had followed his own advice: Shut up!

The White House political office, having apparently found nothing instructive in Fox’s experience four years ago, is pursuing a nearly identical strategy today. They are threatening serious civil sanctions against Michael Moore, one of their fiercest critics, charging he violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba when he filmed scenes from his new movie there.

The Cuban segment of “Sicko,” Moore’s new critique of the American healthcare industry, hits Bush hard and where it hurts. It follows a group of emergency response workers who contracted respiratory and other illnesses at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks as they travel to Cuba seeking medical attention that no one will provide them in the United States. Ouch.

On the face of it, the government investigation appears to be naked retaliation against Moore, with the clumsy tactical brutality and distinct odor of authoritarianism that has become the Bushies’ trademark. On the bright side, the timing couldn’t be better. The film debuts at the Cannes film festival in about two weeks. Harvey Weinstein, the film’s distributor, can’t believe his luck:

“The timing is amazing. You would think that we originated this. It reads like a fiction best-seller,” Weinstein said. Weinstein said the investigation would only help publicize the film.

If it pursues the case against Moore, the Bush White House may well turn “Sicko” into a bigger hit than “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Moore’s skewering of Pres. Bush’s response to the terror attacks, or his Oscar-winning film, “Bowling for Columbine.”

Another unintended consequence of going after Moore on this issue is that it could reawaken interest in companies with Republican ties that have done business with embargoed countries. Particularly, when Vice Pres. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, one of its subsidiaries had dealings with Iran.

Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ Inconvenienced in Washington Schools

The heat is off: A guy named Frosty in Federal Way, Wash., is trying to ice Al Gore’s movie about global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” because it does not present an alternative to science as an explanation of why the world is getting measurably hotter. Frosty Hardison supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education — SURPRISE!

There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now.

When he heard that his daughter was going to be exposed to Gore’s PowerPoint presentation, Frosty complained about the film and the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it is calling a “moratorium” on teachers showing the film in class. Frosty explained why he wants to cool Gore’s jets to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

“Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. … The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

Neither is the opposing view that the world will end in ice.

“Somebody could say you’re killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we’re encouraging free speech,” said school board member David Larson, a lawyer. “The beauty of our society is we allow debate.”

School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a “credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented,” that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an “opposing view.”

That shouldn’t be hard to do, as the oil companies have been spending millions to disprove man-made global warming for years, using the same tactics as the tobacco companies used to convince people smoking is good for you. Chrysler has gone so far as to criticize European views of global warming, describing climate change as “way, way in the future, with a high degree of uncertainty.”

So there’s plenty of naysayers out there. You don’t have to be a knuckle-dragging creationist like Frosty to find alternative theories. Like Satan is doing it. But the Hardisons’ opposition is actually more, er, simple than that:

“From what I’ve seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of ‘bad America, bad America,’ I don’t think it should be shown at all,” Gayle Hardison said. “If you’re going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don’t think the video should be shown.”

You can’t argue with that kind of rhetoric, now can you?

Laurie David, a co-producer of the movie, said that this is the first incident of its kind relating to the film.

“I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision,” David said in a prepared statement. “There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now.”

Sorry, Laurie, there is an opposing view to science. It’s called ignorance.

NBC to Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Go Away

Does it never end? Now NBC is reportedly refusing to run ads for the documentary about the Dixie Chicks, “Shut Up and Sing.” Before we go on, view the trailer.

Looks good, right? I wish it were released a couple of weeks ago and in wide release instead of only heading to New York and L.A. theaters this weekend, but still.

The company distributing a new documentary about the Dixie Chicks has blasted the NBC and CW networks for allegedly refusing to accept a commercial spot for the film, which opens in four theaters Friday.

In a press release issued late Thursday, the Weinstein Co. said NBC rejected a spot for “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing,” because the spot included material that “disparages President Bush.”

So who doesn’t? The point is, why is NBC refusing to comment on this?

The Weinstein Co. distributed a document from CW that referred to “concerns (that) we do not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot.”

…According to a source, the spot has been cleared for broadcast on CBS, MTV and on local NBC, CW, ABC and Fox affiliates in New York and Los Angeles, as well as on local cable systems, including local spots on Fox News and CNN.

Yeah, no appropriate programming. The network that gave us Must See TV, Saturday Night Live, and The West Wing finds an ad for a documentary about censorship and blacklisting “inappropriate” for its viewers.

There is also a blog associated with the film, called Shut Up and Post. PR readers need to go there and participate because it looks like it’s getting overrun with trolls. Check it out, and leave a note for our side.