Whose Ox Is Gored?

Wall Street Opinion Journal John Fund March 19, 2007

The media discover the former vice president’s environmental exaggerations and hypocrisy.

The media are finally catching up with Al Gore. Criticism of his anti-global-warming franchise and his personal environmental record has gone beyond ankle-biting bloggers. It’s now coming from the New York Times and the Nashville Tennessean, his hometown paper that put his birth, as a senator’s son, on its front page back in 1948, and where a young Al Gore Jr. worked for five years as a journalist.

Last Tuesday, the Times reported that several eminent scientists “argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points [on global warming] are exaggerated and erroneous.” The Tenessean reported yesterday that Mr. Gore received $570,000 in royalties from the owners of zinc mines who held mineral leases on his farm. The mines, which closed in 2003 but are scheduled to reopen under a new operator later this year, “emitted thousands of pounds of toxic substances and several times, the water discharged from the mines into nearby rivers had levels of toxins above what was legal.”

All of this comes in the wake of the enormous publicity Mr. Gore received after his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Oscar. The film features Mr. Gore reprising his famous sighing and lamenting how the average American’s energy use is greedily off the charts. At the film’s end viewers are asked, “Are you ready to change the way you live?”

The Nashville-based Tennessee Center for Policy Research was skeptical that Mr. Gore had been “walking the walk” on the environment. It obtained public records showing that for years Mr. Gore has burned through more electricity at his Nashville home each month than the average American family uses in a year–and his consumption was increasing. The heated Gore pool house alone ran up more than $500 in natural-gas bills every month.

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2 thoughts on “Whose Ox Is Gored?”

  1. When I first glanced at the article header I noticed the words “vice president” and “exaggerations,” and for a fleeting moment I thought “wow, Orthodoxy Today actually has an article criticizing Dick Cheney!” I should have known better. I mean, an article like that on Orthdoxy Today would truly have been one of the signs of the Second Coming. Why post an article about vice presidential exaggerations that got us into a useless and debt-funded expensive war when you can have yet another article about Al Gore?

    So one big scandal is that Al Gore has several big houses. This has already been the subject of discussion here, but I suppose one can never have enough of a good thing.

    The other scandal is that 33 years ago Gore’s father bought land with an existing zinc mine, leased the mine to a mining company, and put the rights to the royalties in his son’s and daughter-in-law’s names. I’m not a lawyer, but my impression is that once you’ve leased a mine to another party, then the other party controls the asset, and you can’t just walk in and tell them to get their equipment off your property.

    So it appears that the great hypocrisy of Gore in this case is that — gasp — he actually accepted money from the mining company.

    But once you’re targeted by the right, it doesn’t matter what you do. So the interesting thing is how the right would have reacted had Gore somehow broken the lease and shut down the mine or sold the land.

    Had he ended mining operations, then the right would have been all over the fact that the people working the mine were laid off. Gore’s hypocrisy then would have been that he says he cares for working people, but then he throws working people out of a job. We would have been reminded that zinc is a strategic metal, and that Gore’s decision to close the zinc mine puts America at risk. We would have been told that closing this mine will only increase the pollution from other zinc mines, thus having no positive effect at all. We would have been told that Gore’s mine closure would increase mining in third world countries, leading to yet other charges of hypocrisy. We would have heard sad tales about how Gore “broke the lease” in order to satisfy the whims of environmental extremists, proving that he can’t be trusted. If he sold the land and someone else worked the mine, we would have heard about how he pocketed all the money from the sale and mining still continued. If Gore continued the mine and gave the royalties to charity, we would have heard about how rich he is, and how $20,000 is nothing more than pocket change to him.

    In other words, no matter what Gore might have done, the right would have found something to criticize, yet more evidence of Gore’s hypocrisy, his dishonesty, his greed, his lack of common sense, etc. etc.

    This is why articles like this are basically worthless. They are hit pieces, nothing more.

  2. he Republican War on Science

    uh oh, looks like Fr. Jacobse is right – this is a purely cultural phenomenon with a healthy dash of politics thrown in…

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