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The Hijacking of "Tomorrow"

The left's attempt to claim Roland Emmerich's "The Day After Tomorrow"--and use it to bludgeon George W. Bush--is ridiculous.

12:00 AM, May 28, 2004 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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IT IS UNHEALTHY when a political movement becomes monomaniacally obsessed with an opponent. The monomania causes them to do strange, self-destructive things. For instance, the movement often rushes to embrace cranks. Guided by the rantings of these cranks, the movement then becomes so obsessed that it begins to see politics everywhere--in every rock, cloud, and Teletubby. Conservatives know something of this from the Clinton years. Today, liberals are sinking further into the swamp every hour, driven mad by George W. Bush.

So it is that Roland Emmerich's excellent disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow, has become de rigueur viewing for the left.

Al Gore has spent much time stumping for The Day After Tomorrow and has praised the movie's "honest fiction." MoveOn.org calls it "The movie the White House doesn't want you to see." Many reviewers will no doubt agree with Harry Knowles who says, "I enjoy the film as a Jonathan Swift style black satire regarding the absolutely irresponsible scientific and environmental misjudgments of the Bush Administration, and in particular . . . I'm quite fond of the portrayal of the puppet President and the incompetent Stromboli Vice President, even though they didn't go the cheap route of hiring dead on look-alikes."

IN TRUTH, there's little evidence that The Day After Tomorrow is intended as an anti-Bush political statement. For starters, the book on which the movie is based was published in 1999. Written by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, The Coming Global Superstorm was poorly regarded when it first appeared. As the authors note in the forward to the latest edition, "We were roundly criticized for even suggesting that the climate might be at the brink of a catastrophe. Matt Lauer of the Today show interviewed us, taking a position that was reflected elsewhere in the media: we were irresponsible alarmists attempting to make money by exploiting people's fears."

Matt Lauer, of course, is no Bush apologist. And Bell and Strieber aren't political hacks. Bell became prominent hosting the popular late-night radio show Coast-to-Coast AM where he discussed UFOs and things paranormal. Strieber is a novelist. Most of Strieber's early books were thrillers, but after publishing Communion, his true-life account of being abducted by aliens, he took to nonfiction.

His subsequent nonfiction work--the books Transformation, Breakthrough, and Confirmation--all dealt with his continuing experience with otherworldly visitors. As did his 1997 The Secret School, in which, as Publisher's Weekly summarizes it, "He contends that, as a child in San Antonio in the 1950s, he and other children were taken in the middle of the night to a secret school run by aliens in the middle of San Antonio's wild Olmos Basin." It's good to know that Vice President Gore has an open mind about these things.

The Coming Global Superstorm--Strieber's seventh nonfiction title--sold well and was eventually read by Roland Emmerich, the director of The Patriot, Godzilla, and Independence Day. Emmerich then banged out a screenplay which was ready for auction in May of 2002. Which means that the script was complete only 17 months after Bush took office, which most likely indicates that it was begun shortly after Bush took office. Emmerich has been silent on precisely when he began work on The Day After Tomorrow, but it would not be surprising if he started before President Bush withdrew from the Kyoto protocols in June 2001, since that would have given him only 11 months to begin, research, write, and polish a script which was ready for auction.

Since 1990, Emmerich had been on a regular schedule of completing a movie every two years. His last movie, The Patriot, was released four years ago in 2000, which suggests that he has been eyeing The Day After Tomorrow for some time.

There is one other complicating fact for those wishing to see a condemnation of George W. Bush in every frame of The Day After Tomorrow: The movie was produced and released by Rupert Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox and features prominent tie-ins with Murdoch's Fox News Channel. If you are a professional Bush hater, this is a difficult circle to square.

If The Day After Tomorrow is a condemnation of George Bush, then Twister was a love story and Volcano was really about race relations.

But don't expect the wacky left to allow any of this to interfere with its celebration of The Day After Tomorrow. So desperate are they for a club--any club--with which to beat the administration, that if Tim Burton's goofy Mars Attacks! had been released this summer, they would have embraced it as a righteous condemnation of Bush's dangerous, criminal scheme to exploit the red planet.