Austin, TX – Al Gore made what looked like a hero’s return to SXSW Interactive (he was even introduced as the “former president”) in the former vice president’s second annual appearance at the massive tech event.
This year, Gore promoted his new book The Futurebut spent a majority of his speech addressing the problems of our present. “Our country is in very serious trouble” according to Gore, who went on to detail a series of perceived problems.
“The NRA is a complete fraud because it is financed by the gun manufacturers,” he claimed. “They pull the puppet strings.”
Gore also pushed back against critics over the sale of Current TV to Al-Jazeera. Just in case you’re late to the table, Al-Jazeera is funded by oil, which brought out environmentally-sensitive Gore’s critics out in force.
“I knew it would be criticized, I decided to do it anyway,” Gore said, framing the sale his way. “I did extensive diligence and found some pretty remarkable things, it has won major awards around the world for integrity in journalism I felt it was the most interest and disruptive move on the chessboard.”
AllThingsD editor Walt Mossberg pushed back at Gore on the subject, with the latter moving to personal attack. “I don’t ask you why you continue working for Rupert Murdoch,” (Mossberg is a News Corp employee). “Last I checked, he’s not in the oil business,” snarked Mossberg, to which Gore responded, “he’s also not strictly in the news business either.”
Gore also took aim at Rand Paul’s Wednesday filibuster on the subject of potential drone strikes on American soil. He said that it was evidence of “how the left and the right have sort of scrambled up when it comes to drone technology, and not just the surveillance technology,” making reference to a “stalker economy” that tracks our web activity and monitors texts and emails.
“I hope its causing people to reach the gag point,” he said, arguing that “knowledge is power and too much power in the hands of small group is dangerous.”
Gore touched on the Internet, calling its freedom the future of democracy, and threw out more factoids about the environment. But the strangest part of his speech, noted by The Huffington Post, concerned the subject of “spider goats.” One festival attendee called it the “most Internet moment,” and you’ll see why:
“You can’t farm spiders for a number of reasons, so people are talking the genes from spiders and splicing them into goats,” Gore explained. “They look like goats, then these spider goats secret silk through their udders. Everyone okay with that?”
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