Al Gore, who has spent each month since April staging photo-ops on climate data, lost no time in sharing his shock and dismay at this new world record. "Running for President on the weather is a novel strategy," says TIME Deputy Washington Bureau chief Jef McAllister, "but Gore seems determined to give it a try."
There's more than just the Veep's enviro-mania and the "gee, isn't it hot" factor at work here. Higher temperatures are cited as evidence of global warming, which equals a good reason for the Senate to pass the meager emissions-cut treaty hammered out -- with Gore's help -- at Kyoto. In more immediate terms, warmer weather also means more disease. The World Health Organization is already reporting a jump in the number of malaria cases, not to mention cholera and the deadly hantavirus. All the more reason for Gore to ride the El Nino bandwagon -- and for you to turn the fan up another notch.