Green is gold for Gore and his celeb pals
Presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama may have spent last week in a contentious battle for Hollywood's attention, but on Sunday it was clear that the entertainment industry only had eyes for one politician: Al Gore.

"An Inconvenient Truth" — the film that featured the former vice president's fight to increase awareness of global warming — received an Academy Award for best documentary, making the former vice president a Hollywood hero of sorts on the evening filled with tributes to his environmental efforts.

"People all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a political issue. It's a moral issue," Gore said, joining "Truth" director Davis Guggenheim on stage.

Earlier in the evening, Gore appeared with actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio to praise the show's organizers for implementing environmentally friendly practices in the production. The movie earned $24 million at the box office, making it the third-highest grossing documentary in history.

DiCaprio set up a gag with Gore, asking the 2000 presidential candidate if there was anything he wanted to announce.

"Well, I do appreciate that, Leo," Gore joked. "And I'm kind of surprised at the feelings welling up here, actually. You've been very convincing. Even though I honestly had not planned on doing this, I guess with a billion people watching, it's as good a time as any. So, my fellow Americans, I'm going to take this opportunity right here and now to formally announce my intention ..." And with that he was cut off by the orchestra's time-to-exit music. The gag received laughs and applause.

In fact, Gore was the man of the moment for much of the evening. An early point saw host Ellen DeGeneres compare Jennifer Hudson, who did not receive America's votes on "American Idol," to Gore, who did receive the votes, she noted, yet didn't win the 2000 election. DiCaprio looked as if he were standing next to his hero as he and Gore announced the greening of the Oscars, and Melissa Etheridge, who won the Oscar for original song for the documentary's "I Need to Wake Up," made sure to thank Gore in her speech.

"I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring us, inspiring me and showing that caring about the Earth is not Republican or Democrat," Etheridge said.

Gore has made no secret of his political intentions: He has said in interviews that he has no plans to run for public office again. (Of course, he could always change his mind.) But his commitment to sounding the alarm on global warming is unmistakable: It's a cause he's serious about, and, in turn, Hollywood is serious about him.

"This is not a political issue, it's not a political movie," Gore said backstage after receiving the award. "Some of the solutions will have to be worked out within the political sphere, but it should really be bipartisan, and seen as a moral issue where we all have the same stake."

Among the show's environmental initiatives were using "ecologically superior paper" for invitations and ballots, serving organic food at the Governors Ball and transporting presenters and staff in hybrid vehicles. The effort earned the ceremony the environmental designation of "carbon neutral," which means the Oscars had reduced or prevented the accumulation of global warming gases in the atmosphere to make up for the gases that it emitted.

tina.daunt@latimes.com