Weather or Nut

If you have what the rest of us like to think of as an actual life, you may be unaware not only that 2007 is the 25th year of The Weather Channel, but that Hollywood Democrats - as witnessed in TWC's two new miniseries celebrating this 25th anniversary: "100 Biggest Weather Moments" AND "Epic Conditions" - are in bigger trouble than they'd thought.

    I toss two names into the hat here as evidence of this: Hollywood Democratic fundraiser and environmental activist Laurie David, who's married to Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and actress Jennifer Garner, who looks pretty when running around in front of weather.

     Now even as a Republican, of course I believe in global warming: there's just too much scientific evidence, just as I dislike seeing even conservative Republicans starting arguments against evolution. It doesn't make either side look particularly smart.

     But although Laurie David was on hand at The Weather Channel's winter press tour promoting "100 Biggest Weather Moments" (and, of course, discussing global warming), you could practically feel the hostility against her. And the room was filled with press people - you know, the sort we'd expect to be on her side anyway.

    But she got snappish at even the blandest questions tossed her way, such as: "Isn't this just another normal weather cycle?"

    "I urge you to see 'An Inconvenient Truth,'" David responded irritably. "Because Al Gore addresses that beautifully. In charts."

    Oh, just what we need - charts. OK, then. Both "Epic Conditions" and "100 Biggest Weather Moments" premiere this month.

   "And by the way, I have extra DVDs in my bag, so I'd love to give you one when I'm done."

    Mrs. David was no more helpful when asked about global warming costs, which you'd think by now would be a pretty basic question she's encountered.

    "Well...I don't know...I can't answer that specifically...but there's a Stern report that just came out in London that addresses that completely," she said. "But the costs of not dealing with this problem is going to be so much greater than the cost of dealing with it..."

     Which are, basically, that Laurie David has no idea about dollar figures so stop pestering her already. Not the most effective way to get your message across, but maybe that's just my opinion.

     My other favorite Weather Channel moment - as long as we're talking about the 100 Biggest Ones - was when someone asked what, exactly, Jennifer Garner had to do with all this? Why was she one of the talking heads in the documentary? I expected maybe to hear something about outrunning a tornado, for instance. But no, the answer was much better.

    "We kept hearing from people over and over again that their first iconic image of a twister was from 'The Wizard of Oz,'" said TWC's programming vp Kaye Zusmann. "That was a very scary moment for them, and though you don't see it here[ital -- CS] I would like to say that Jennifer actually did play a tornado in her elementary school's production of 'The Wizard of Oz' and she was still traumatized by that."

    That, as you can imagine, brought down the house. Or at least everyone stopped pretending to take all this seriously and began counting down the minutes... or at least the biggest ones remaining... to lunch.

    Still, I did manage to get in one incredulous question of my own, about someone saying in one of the new Weather Channel mini-series that the Challenger Disaster was the first time we'd realized, collectively: "Wow, Mother Nature is so much more powerful than we are."

    I wondered what The Weather Channel people meant by that, since the Challenger had happened at least decades after the Johnstown Flood, the Great Dustbowl, and a lot of other Weather Moments that affected more lives, on a vastly more miserable and bigger scale, than even the photographically rich Challenger.

    "I think that might have been that person's opinion," said TWC's hurricane expert Steve Lyons carefully. "It definitely wasn't mine."

    So...a bit of a stretch then?

   "I guess my generation is kind of 'What happened when JFK got shot,' suggested TWC's on-camera meteorologist Paul Goodloe, equally carefully. "So it's kind of like one point in time you can say, 'I know where I as when I heard about the Challenger exploding.'"

    Well, I know where I was too - in my kitchen, watching TV - but I don't think that makes this a particularly Epic, or even Biggest, moment.

     Then someone asked if The Weather Channel had ever shown anything that supported global warming skeptics. Kaye Zusmann said she couldn't really hear the question, someone else referred the questioner to a new series (which premiered in fall) called "The Climate Code," that tries to present all viewpoints.

    Then we all really did begin counting down the biggest minutes until lunch.


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PajamasMedia Special Correspondent CATHERINE SEIPP writes the weekly "From the Left Coast" column for National Review Online, a monthly column for Independent Women's Forum and freelances other places, such as the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal op-ed pages. She previously wrote columns for: Buzz, Mediaweek, UPI, New York Press and Salon. Her work has also appeared in Reason, Penthouse, TV Guide, the National Post and Forbes.

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