An Inconvenient Hypocrisy

It's been an interesting few days here on planet earth, where the climate keeps getting warmer, unless it's not, and where the controversy about Al Gore's lifestyle is generating much debate about how much energy – and cream-filled Munchkins -- he consumes on a daily basis.

Just the other day, Katie Couric weighed in, so to speak, on what seemed the heftiest Gore story of the day: his winning the Oscar.

As the throngs of celebrities greeted Al Gore as a secular saint, I wondered if this might usher in a backlash against environmentalists. It wasn't too long ago, afterall, that environmentalists were decried as tree-huggers, and former President Bush railed against them — trying to say it was the spotted owl against logging interests and jobs in the West.

Gore has repeatedly said the environment is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it's a moral issue. But now that Hollywood has so completely embraced the former vice president, one wonders if this issue will be associated only with liberal causes. The Oscars may give Gore's critics ammunition to reject a school of thought that's been validated by countless scientists worldwide. Some people I know latched on to a recent Gore global warming conference that was cancelled because of a snowstorm.

No sooner had those words been posted than we received word that the man behind "An Inconvenient Truth" had some inconvenient truths of his own to explain.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a conservative think tank, said the former Vice President was gobbling up energy like a Coney Island lifeguard at a hot dog eating contest. What people smelled wasn't relish. It was hypocrisy.

"We wanted to see if he was living by his own recommendations and walking the walk," said Drew Johnson, president of the think tank, which pushes for conservative economic issues.

Utility records show the Gore family paid an average monthly electric bill of about $1,200 last year for its 10,000-square-foot home.

The Gores used about 191,000 kilowatt hours in 2006, according to bills reviewed by The Associated Press spanning the period from Feb. 3, 2006, to Jan. 5. That is far more than the typical Nashville household, which uses about 15,600 kilowatt-hours per year.

His Nashville home is more than four times larger than the average new American home built last year — about 2,400 square feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

A spokeswoman for Gore said he purchases enough "green power" — renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas — to balance 100 percent of his electricity costs.

"Sometimes when people don't like the message, in this case that global warming is real, it's convenient to attack the messenger," Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said.

Meantime, our own Dick Meyer took a look at the global warming controversy last week.
There's big news on climate change: Global warming is all in your head. The thing is, that's bad news for the planet.

How so? Well, as much as you would like to think that your opinions on the risks and realities of climate change are based entirely on your rational and purely objective assessments of scientific evidence, they aren't. They are shaped by primordial human brain wiring and anthropological patterns of behavior.

There's plenty here to make everybody's temperature, and blood pressure, rise. Clearly, the global warming controversy isn't going away any time soon. And Al: neither are those extra pounds. If you want to go green, start with your diet.