He has a mighty big carbon footprint.
Al Gore's opulent lifestyle and his virtuous plea to save the planet from global warming don't mesh, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which announced plans yesterday for a new national advertising campaign to showcase the contrast before the American public.
It comes at an unsure time for the former vice president, whose climate efforts have netted both an Oscar and Nobel Prize in the last year. Mr. Gore's finances were questioned this week by Business Week, Bloomberg and others, citing his recent $35 million hedge fund investment and a public investment offering for his cable network Current TV — which could yield a potential $50 million profit.
Yet his name is also being bandied about in some Democratic and progressive circles for a presidential "dream team" ticket pairing him with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
The CEI ad will highlight Mr. Gore's "hypocrisy," said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the free-market public policy group.
"He is the high priest of global warming but he continues his high-flying ways," said Mr. Kazman.
"Restricting affordable energy can affect our jobs and the well-being of this nation. To restrict affordable energy in developing countries would be incredibly disturbing. That could constitute a life and death matter for them," Mr. Kazman said.
The spot, which begins airing Tuesday on several cable networks, is also meant to counter a new outreach by the Alliance for Climate Protection, an umbrella organization founded by Mr. Gore last year. The group is planning a massive music festival in July and will spend a reported $10 million on advocacy ads promoting the "climate crisis" and eco-consciousness.
"We don't have that kind of budget, but we want to provide a contrast," Mr. Kazman said. "Fear and alarmism sell. You have to have a crisis to draw in the viewing public. Plus there can also be a real snowballing effect on federal agencies like the EPA, and a regulatory storm in the aftermath."
Journalists are often seduced by alarmism, Mr. Kazman added — a sentiment echoed Wednesday by Weather Channel founder John Coleman.
He told the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change that his former network had sacrificed credible weather coverage for "the fraud of global warming," and even proposed Mr. Gore be sued over the idea of purchasing "carbon credits" to offset energy use.
The CEI spot is based in part on research released last year by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research which revealed Mr. Gore's posh Nashville mansion used 20 times more electricity than the average American home.
Mr. Gore has yet to mend his ways, noted Drew Johnson, president of the group.
"If Gore truly believed the future of Earth is in peril, he would have started at home by doing his part to reduce his own 'carbon footprint.' Instead he wrote a book, made a movie and invested in companies that sell carbon offsets, all while flying on private plane and consuming 20 times more energy than the average American. That tells me that he's nothing more than a modern day snake oil salesman," Mr. Johnson said yesterday.