This week, former Vice President Al Gore was forced to withdraw a slide from his PowerPoint presentation.
Admittedly, on the surface that sounds only marginally more exciting than the news that Dan Quayle had wheat toast instead of rye with breakfast this week. But hold on a minute.
The slide in question was part of Gore's peripatetic minstrel show of environmental doom, made famous in his Oscar-winning horror-documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." After a montage of images of people suffering from famines, floods, fires and other biblical plagues across the globe, the slide purported to show data demonstrating that global warming "is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented."
The problem: the source of the data -- the Belgium-based Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters -- explicitly warned against using the data the way Gore did, because there's no way to attribute all of these disasters to climate change. Caught fudging the facts, again, the former vice president had no choice but to drop the graph.
It's a small thing, in and of itself, but it illustrates something much bigger.
Democrats take understandable pride in FDR's famous declaration, made during the Great Depression, that "all we have to fear is fear itself." More recently Democrats, led by none other than Al Gore, have been fixated on the evils of the "politics of fear" -- politics, allegedly, only Republicans are guilty of practicing.
Ever since the Iraq War turned decidedly unpopular, Gore has been demonizing George W. Bush and the GOP as fearmongers. "He betrayed this country!" Gore fumed of President Bush, in a famous splenetic diatribe at a 2004 Democratic Party event in Tennessee. "He played on our fears!" Gore went on to rail against the "politics of fear" going all the way back to Nixon. In 2008, when Gore endorsed Barack Obama in part because the Illinois senator represented a break with the "politics of fear."