Former vice-president Al Gore played to a packed house at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday as SXSW Interactive got under way. And nobody made any jokes about how he invented the Internet.
The man does have a book to push -- The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change --and what better way to give it a kickstart than in front of a huge crowd of your closest Twitter-loving friends in a sympathetic environment? As such, he didn't bite his tongue as he railed against what he considers the scourges of our era: mindless growth, climate change, big money in politics, collapse of privacy, and the NRA, which he called a "complete fraud."
He got in the festival spirit with lines like "Our democracy is being hacked" (he said more than once) and "our operating system is the Constitution."
The presentation was set up like a conversation with Gore seated across from moderator/Wall Street Journal writer Walter Mossberg, who generally delivered softball questions though things got a little good-naturedly testy when Gore was questioned about why he sold his Current TV news channel to Al Jazeera English. Some have said "hypocrite much?" in regards to Gore, who champions tougher measures to deal with the climate change, for selling to a network owned by the oil-producing country of Qatar.
Gore said that what matters is Al Jazeera English's reporting credentials, not who owns the network. When Mossberg continued to push, Gore responded, "I don't ask you why you continue to work for Rupert Murdoch," to a huge round of applause.
Gore took a handful of questions from the crowd via Twitter, but there were no angry Ron Paul fans bum rushing his Twitter feed. He then waved goodbye, signed books and probably wished all of his appearances could be so friendly.