First Posted: 1/15/2009
Regardless of whether you accept or reject Al Gore's insistence that global warming has the Earth on a fast track to oblivion and that the reverse gear soon will not be an option, we should be able to agree on this: The man who would have been president except for Florida isn't dumb.
But that doesn't preclude him from doing dumb things: And living in a 20-room mansion with a voracious appetite for electricity while performing the role of poster child in the fight against global warming is simply dumb because it guarantees that you will be attacked and your message diluted.
Let us get this out of the way: We appreciate Al Gore, if not his madness, because he, more than anyone else, is forcing a worldwide debate that must take place. On Sunday, his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” which predicts catastrophic consequences should global warming not be harnessed, was predictably embraced by Hollywood when Gore became the nation's first former vice president to win an Oscar for the mantel.
The next day the Tennessee Center for Policy Research - a right-wing outfit to be sure - was telling anyone who would listen that Gore is a hypocrite because his Nashville, Tenn., mansion consumed about 12 times the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006 than did the typical home in his neighborhood. The argument is that Gore, while asking Americans to drive smaller cars and turn up the thermostat during the summer to cut energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, isn't making similar sacrifices.
Gore counters by saying he has made significant investments in “green power” - renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas - that he says offsets his electrical consumption. But these offsets, while valuable, are essentially a payment for permission to pollute with a clear conscience.
Could Gore not make those same green power investments while living in a more modest home that eats less energy? Of course he could - and he should, especially if he is going to lecture the rest of us.