Thursday, August 31, 2006



Waiting backstage with Governor Warner

After the break, a lightly edited transcript of Governor Mark Warner's appearance in Second Life-- hopefully the first in many to come.

Approaching the stage with Governor Warner

Taking the stage with a flying landing

[Millions of Us CEO] Reuben Tapioca: Hello everyone and welcome to the New Globe Theatre. Today is a very exciting day for us all. As you all get seated I’d like to introduce a very special guest.

Reuben Tapioca introduces the Governor

Our guest is the former governor of the state of Virginia and the founder of the Forward Together PAC, a Democratic group. Oh, yeah, he’s also the founder of Nextel. When they contacted us a few weeks ago, we were blown away that they were interested in Second Life. So, with no further delay, I’d like to introduce, Mark Warner! And the equally fantastic, Hamlet Au! Please give them a warm Second Life welcome, and enjoy.

[Audience applause]

Screenshot of Mark Warner by Cyrus Huffines

Mark Warner: Thanks for having me here today! It's pretty wild!

Hamlet Au: Indeed! Thank you, sir. Thanks everyone for coming. Let me start with a quick introduction.

A successful tech industry entrepreneur and the enormously popular former Democratic governor of Virginia, Mark Warner is many things to many people: To some Democratic party insiders, he's among the best potential "fallback" candidates in the 2008 primaries, should he ever declare his candidacy, and should Senator Clinton's star wane among the faithful.

To many in the "democratic wing of the Democratic party", to use Howard Dean's term, his support for parental notification for teens seeking abortion and his courting of the NRA as governor are grounds for deep concern.

To analysts who churn the raw demographic numbers and note that the only two Democrats to hold Presidential office in the last 35 years have been, like him, centrists from the South, he's not someone to be taken lightly.


Are we looking at the next President of the United States of America, in avatar form?

But as was said, he has not declared his candidacy. Least not yet. So only time-- and Governor Warner-- will tell.

For now, then, ladies and gentlemen, robots, aliens, furry animals, and other citizens of indeterminate origin, please join me in welcoming him to Second Life. Welcome, sir!

Governor Warner, everyone!

[More applause]


MW: Thanks Hamlet. Fire away with the questions.

HA: How are you today?

MW: Well this is my first virtual appearance, I'm feeling a little disembodied!

Angelina Graziadei [from the audience]: Will Jim Webb win Virginia?

HA: Since this is a very short initial appearance, we'll hold off on audience Q&A for the Governor's "town hall" appearance in late September/early October. Details on that to come soon!

So, Governor Warner, welcome again. To start off, why don't you tell us a bit about who you are in your own words, and the main message you want to convey with your political action committee, Forward Together?

MW: As a former high-tech entrepreneur and Governor of Virginia, I'm proud of the results we achieved in Virginia. We got named the best managed state in American by Governing Magazine. We were named the best place to do business in America by Forbes. And saw dramatic increases in our test scores, including the largest Math SAT score increase in the nation, and we finally started to crack the code on how to bring knowledge-based jobs to rural communities.

Now, at Forward Together, we're trying to advocate that politics in this country is less about left versus right, or liberal versus conservative, but more about the future versus the past. So it's exciting for me to be here today.

HA: Tell us about your background as a high-tech entrepreneur, sir, and how it relates to your efforts now, with Forward Together, and your coming to Second Life.

MW: Clearly, how people communicate, what type of communities they form, is changing real time. At Forward Together, we want to use every tool -- including virtual tools! -- to communicate some of our ideas about how we get our country back on the right track.


HA: Turning to political issues, we're days away from the 5th anniversary of 9/11, and you have a major homeland security speech planned soon. What will you say then, and do you think it's a message that can galvanize Democrats and Americans at large to fight violent jihadism, as the title of a recent book you discussed suggests, "With all our might"?

MW: Next week, I hope to lay out some immediate steps we can take to better protect our homeland and ensure that the resources we spent get real results…

Taking Nap [from the audience]: Governor, do you favor fixed timetable in Iraq? Over here!

HA: Save audience questions for the next event with the Governor, please!

MW: … But I also think the fifth anniversary of 9-11 serves as an opportunity to challenge Americans to remember that sense of civic engagement we all felt in the aftermath of that tragic day. As I've said elsewhere, the fact that the President didn't call upon that spirit to take on some of the major issues, from our energy crisis to restoring America's stature in the world, was a missed opportunity.

HA: Thank you. Governor, during an Iowa appearance on Tuesday, you said, "My sense is we've got to make clear that we're getting out of Iraq." Do you think it's possible to convey such a message, sir, without Tehran-sympathetic bad actors like Sadr and his Mahdi army seeing our withdrawal as an inspiring victory-- with catastrophic consequences for a country already on civil war's brink? Or to make the question more general, where are we in Iraq, and where can we go from here?


MW: The real question is, is our ongoing presence in Iraq making us safer? Of course, getting out of Iraq without a plan is as bad as going in without a plan. Our goals must be to ensure that as we redeploy from Iraq, we ensure that it doesn't become an even greater haven [for] Al Qaeda, or Iranian expansionism. And this has been made more difficult by some of the Administration's policies.

HA: In Matt Bai's New York Times profile of you, there's a striking anecdote. You were at a party of Bay Area Democrats, and one of them lectures you about changing your opinions on abortion rights. Until finally you say, exasperated, "This is why America hates Democrats." Assuming it's an accurate quote, Governor, what did you mean, and what do you think Democrats need to do now, to win?

Whirling Eddy [from the audience]: Given the current focus on foreign policy, how do you make the argument that a one term governor is well equipped to handle the current world situation?

HA: Save audience questions for next event, please!

MW: I think Democrats need to lay out ideas that can be competitive in more than 16 or 17 states. That doesn't write off, particularly some of our rural communities. And by the way, I've always been supportive of a woman's right to choose, and even vetoed a ban on late-term abortions.

HA: But many in the Democratic party want no compromises from Roe v. Wade, yes? How do you speak to them?

MW: I support Roe v Wade, and I think the challenge from this administration goes beyond an attack on Roe v Wade to an attack on science, from the stall tactics at the FDA on Plan B, to failure to acknowledge global warming, or failure to unleash the potential of stem cell research.

Now, I saw a question [from the audience] about Jim Webb.


HA: Please take it if you like, sir.

MW: I think he has a great chance to winning, and I look forward to campaigning with him.  And I'll be out campaigning for him this Labor Day across Virginia.

HA: Of course I have a million other questions, as I'm sure the audience does, but perhaps we should save that for future events. Speaking of which, what kind of activities in Second Life do you and your staff have planned, Governor?

MW: We formed the Second Life group, and I'll be back later this fall to do a virtual town hall meeting, and folks like Taking Nap and Whirling Eddy can get their questions answered then

HA: Excellent!

MW: You've gotta cut me some slack, this is the first time I've flown onto a stage!

HA: You've performed quite well, sir. You are not a noob.

Real life Governor Warner speaking through his Mark Warner avatar (courtesy Nancy Mandelbrot of Forward Together)

MW: I've got a video crew waiting to film some website spots -- how 20th century.  Old school...

Got to run, thank you all for appearing in all of your various forms!


Mark Warner: Thank you, Hamlet! Until next time!

[Governor Mark Warner disappears in a cloud of pixels]

Reuben Tapioca: Everyone, thanks so much for coming. Stay tuned for more. And again, thanks for coming.

Hamlet Au: Thank you all. There's a group called Forward Together that everyone's welcome to join for more info.

Event sponsored by Forward Together, produced and hosted by Millions of Us.

More screenshots from the event:

From the pre-show warm-up with the Governor



Governor Warner's diverse audience

Senator Ted Stevens' version of the Internet attends Governor Warner's event

Update, 3:38PM:  Added a photo of real life Governor Warner chatting through Second Life Mark Warner.  (Courtesy of Forward Together's Nancy Mandelbrot.)

Update, 9/4: Post-Event wrap-up with media links here.



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Did we have to see a picture of the female avie with her virtual cleavage busting out?

john malcom

bravo, i like it!

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