Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How Convenient!

You guys remember that "Mr. Show" sketch with the Medieval "educational science filmstrip"? If I remember correctly, all science begins when a wizard has an idea. Then, the wizard is drowned, and if he sinks, the idea becomes a theory. Then, the king is told and he consults with his menagerie of birds, and if they approve, it becomes an "old wives' tale" and science marches forward.

This is much the same process wherein dumb mudslinging bullshit travels through the magical portal of The Drudge Report and becomes "conventional wisdom." (No, I'm not linking to Matt Drudge. That asshat gets enough traffic.)

Upset that Al Gore won an Oscar last night for his documentary film while Matt Drudge has only won "Outstanding Achievement in Being a Weasely Guy in an Old-Fashioned Hat,"* today the Internet's answer to Robert Wuhl from Batman dropped a real bombshell on the world. Al Gore has a significantly higher-than-average gas bill!

OMFG SMD WTF1111! 111!!!1!!!11!!1

But he says we should conserve energy! That lying hypocritical hypocrite! Plus, I think he's gained some weight recently!

The surprisingly conservative blogger at What Would Tyler Durden Do reprints Drudge's smear, so I still don't have to link directly to the source. Which means I won't have to take that second shower today after all. (WWTDD's Headline: Al Gore is a Jackass)

Gore’s mansion consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES). The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average. Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359. Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006. Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year … In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

Oh my gosh! It's almost as if he's a prominant statesman and former US Vice President using his celebrity and stature to raise global awareness of a dire and pressing issue to which he has dedicated a significant portion of his life!

Now, far be it from me to question the wisdom of a man who spends the better part of his day posting partial Fergie nipple slips, but I think WWTDD and all the thousands of other bloggers I viewed via the magic of Technorati are maybe not grasping the real situation here. Sure, it's easy to say that Gore uses more power than the rest of us, therefore he's leaving more of a so-called "carbon footprint" on the planet than we are, therefore he's a hypocrite for telling us to conserve energy.

But this overlooks some pretty important points. Mainly, that we don't know what Gore does to counterbalance his significant energy use, we don't know what he's using all that energy for and we don't know the sum total effect he has had on the world's climate situation. I'll leave it to the Black Sun Journal, who know more about this stuff than I:

Al Gore is a global diplomat and former U.S. Vice President. He has crisscrossed the world with his message, and it’s getting through. Even while Vice-President, his use of Air Force Two raised hackles. But let’s review: The United States is the world’s leading fossil-fuel consumer, and it is an empire. The tools of statecraft are hugely expensive and polluting, but no politician can succeed without them. It’s clearly a lesser of evils situation: leaders can sit with the status quo and do nothing, or they can use the tools at their disposal to raise consciousness. Gore is clearly doing the latter. Despite all his flying and consumption, Gore’s consciousness-raising has set in motion events which have single-handedly removed more CO2 from the atmosphere than any other politician in world history.

It would be a welcome step if Gore could convert his personal electricity usage to renewable energy. But he is involved with a network of organizations who support green energy. Many of these companies deal in REC’s, a method of offsetting the CO2 effects of power consumption through support of wind projects, greenhouse gas disposal, and methane reductions from feedlots, etc.. I researched this for my own energy usage, and last year carbon-neutralized both my vehicles and all my business electricity and gas usage through a company called Terrapass for $243.90.

I’d bet my bottom dollar that Gore and his supporters also offset their energy usage this way. (It was in the credits of An Inconvenient Truth that the film was made with a zero carbon footprint.) As savvy politicians, they’d be insane not to.

I mean, I'm working temporarily out of someone's home these days, along with a few other employees, and I'm certain that our combined efforts are running up an exceptionally high energy bill. It happens. Can our relatively small operation even compare with the publicity machine that must be operating around Al Gore? He's a hugely famous celebrity who's traveling all around the world spreading what he sees as a desperately important message.

Now, of course, anyone's free to disagree with Al Gore about climate change or anything else. I might think you're kind of myopic and stupid, but it's your right to be so. But how can Americans so begrudge his efforts? Do they genuinely doubt his sincerity on this issue after all this time? Could he still just be opportunistically using the environment to get elected to some hypothetical office some time in the future? The man's been making these arguments publicly for decades now!

You know, I don't even blame Matt Drudge and his scummy Rethuglican cohorts around the Internet for hyping this story. It's what they do. Gore just had a big night, he's under consideration for a Nobel Prize this year, global warming deniers are on the brink of looking very very stupid to the few Americans silly enough to still take them seriously. Time to do what guys like Drudge do best: sling some mud, even in a frivolous, purely symbolic way, in the hopes of buying more time.

Honestly, Al Gore may be a hypocrite. I don't know enough about this situation to say one way or the other. (Although considering the sheer, naked, unbalanced enthusiasm of rightards to embrace this story, combined with the fact that the only sources on any of this information are a paid hack from Tennessee and one Mr. Matt Drudge, it's dubious). But does it matter? Does it have anything to do with the sheer tonnage of information and evidence in that movie? Doesn't it say something significant about the global warming nonbelievers that their only argument is a personal attack on the character of Al Gore?

It's just depressing in the extreme to read some of these kneejerk blog posts in response to the Drudge story. In this age where there's so much data and information out there, it's truly tragic that so few Americans have any comprehension of media literacy. You're being spoonfed these talking points, guys, and you eat it up like delicious banana pudding, stuffed with Nilla Wafers of Ignorance.

Steve's MySpace blog opens with this charming headline:

NEWS FLASH: I continue to hate Al Gore.

Hate? Hate. Steve hates Al Gore. And this story allows him to continue doing so without reservation. How convenient!

I mean, really...How dare Al Gore attempt to save all our lives! (I mean, even if you disagree about global warming, you surely must agree that Al Gore thinks he's trying to save our lives. Right? I mean, is he just a pathological liar?)

At a LiveJournal regrettably-yet-accurately titled Farewell-Sanity we find the following statement. This is actually kind of chilling.

Sometimes I want to drown people.... today that person is pathetic Mr. Gore

So it's not just a clever name!

"Guys, did you hear? Al Gore has three fridges! Let's go drown him!"

Here's the writer from Negative99 (otherwise unidentified, from what I could find) with his take on Al Gore's efforts.

This post could have also been called: Global Hysteria is Man-Made - Part Two [Inconvenient ReMiX]

Last night at the Democratic National Conven- err… I mean at the Academy Awards, Al Gore’s well-made yet scientifically shady documentary called An Inconvenient Truth won for best documentary (or something like that). I have trouble believing a guy who parades around the world on private jets to persuade people to “use less fuel”. While I’m at it why doesn’t Rosanne Barr invite me to Old Country Buffet to pitch me a low calorie diet.

I'm guessing the unnamed Mr. 99 is some kind of environmental scientist, or something like that, what with him reporting that fears of global warming are, in fact, hysterical, and that the film An Inconvenient Truth is scientifically "shady."

(I'm also going to just go ahead and assume that he's using "shady" in some elevated, scientific sense of which I am wholly unaware, and not just calling out some of the world's most respected climate experts using a term generally reserved for questionable pot dealers. Perhaps it's Latin.)

He provides no evidence of these claims, but instead links to an article about a company that wants to clean up the harmful environmental effects of your cat's farts. No, really. Cat farts. After the Roseanne Barr fat joke lead in. And they say there's no great conservative comedy any more...

*To be fair, Drudge has won "Outstanding Achievement in Being a Weasely Guy in an Old-Fashioned Hat" for the past six years running.

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