Monday, June 12, 2006

Al Gore's Convenient Fiction

Debra Saunders writes in RealClearPolitics The problem with Gore is not that he is a hypocrite. The problem with Gore is that he has no idea he is not Lancelot. He has this scary ability to block out any facts that make him less than a perfect, selfless eco-hero, and in his need to present himself as the world's savior, he'll say anything -- no matter how hysterical. There is a pattern here. In his book, "Earth in the Balance," written after he lost his first White House bid in 1988, Gore warned that the next generation might experience "a decade without a winter," that deforestation could create damage for "tens of millions of years" and that the automobile presented a cumulative global threat "more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever against likely to confront." (I'll write on the film's bad science in another column.) Gore tells his movie audience that he was mystified that, after he sponsored congressional hearings on global warming, Washington did not instantly change how it addressed environmental issues.

Then, the film cuts to a personal vignette of loss, lest moviegoers notice that Gore himself did not change the Washington culture from the White House.

Or in fact do anything productive as VP
After listening to Gore talk about his decades crusading on global warming, you might expect the movie to highlight his many achievements as vice president and designated chief nerd on the environment in the Clinton administration. Instead, the movie essentially airbrushes out Gore's eight years on Pennsylvania Avenue. (Gore does refer to his role negotiating the Kyoto global warming pact in 1997. He does not mention that 95 senators, including John Kerry, had voted for a resolution that announced the Senate would reject any treaty that exempted developing nations -- but Gore agreed to exempt them anyway.
Guaranteeing that not only would the US not approve it, but that other nations that did, would begin backing down from committments they met.
So Clinton never dared to ask the Senate to ratify it.) Here's another propaganda element. Average automobile fuel-efficiency hit a 19-year low under Clinton-Gore -- it was worse than under Ronald Reagan. President Bush has raised fuel standards more than Clinton-Gore. But Gore wants to lampoon the man who defeated him in 2000. So he shows his audience one of his trademark charts, this one comparing U.S. automobile fuel efficiency with other countries. The chart begins in the year 2002 -- it has to, because Bush performed better than Clinton-Gore. The post-2000 Gore has changed one angle of his green message: In "Earth in the Balance," Gore warned that "sacrifice, struggle and a wrenching transformation of society" would be necessary to save the planet. Even if a "miraculous technology" was able to cut per-capita greenhouse gas emissions in half, he wrote, Washington still would have to raise taxes on gasoline, electricity and heating oil. No more. In 2006, Gore tells moviegoers that, as dire as the situation may be, the changes needed to avert global warming would not be onerous, except maybe for some greedy corporations.
That is because if he told the truth, people might not be anxious to encourage addressing the problems.
His prescription, he argues, would be good for the economy, and create wealth and jobs. Sacrifice? Struggle? Wrenching transformation? Forget that. Fighting global warming will be good for your bottom line. How convenient.

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