- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cue the lights

Saturday’s Earth Hour was when people who care about the Earth were supposed to turn off their lights. So what was the world’s No. 1 environmentalist doing at that hour?

Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research and a longtime Al Gore critic, went to the former vice president’s publicly available address in a posh section of Nashville, Tenn., and described the scene in a post on his Facebook profile, as reproduced at the conservative Tennessee blog matthewhurtt.com.

He arrived “at 8:48 p.m. — right in the middle of Earth Hour. I found that the main spotlights that usually illuminate his 9,000 square foot mansion were dark, but several of the lights inside the house were on. In fact, most of the windows were lit by the familiar blue-ish hue indicating that floor lamps and ceiling fixtures were off, but TV screens and computer monitors were hard at work,” Mr. Johnson wrote.

“The kicker, though, were the dozen or so floodlights grandly highlighting several trees and illuminating the driveway entrance of Gore’s mansion. I [kid] you not, my friends, the savior of the environment couldn’t be bothered to turn off the gaudy lights that show off his goofy trees.”

There was much mirth in the conservative blogosphere. “Do as I say, not as I do,” Girl on the Right summed up.

“Like Motel 6, ‘Environment Messiah’ Al Gore left the lights on for us during ‘Earth Hour’ this weekend. Perhaps he purchased enough carbon offsets to compensate. And I am sure that he means well,” Bob Griggs chuckled at his eponymous site.

Wasted letter

A high-profile blogger received similar fundraising letters from former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi within a few hours of each other Saturday, urging people to “Contribute $5, $10, or more to the Democrats’ Million Dollar Match before midnight on March 31st.”

It’s very urgent to raise money now, Mrs. Pelosi said, because “In less than 72 hours, the first [Federal Election Commission] quarterly fundraising deadline will hit. It will be viewed by the media and many political analysts as a critical first test of President Obama’s political strength.”

“Ugh. The Perpetual Obama Campaign Machine is a 24/7/365 operation,” wrote the recipient — Michelle Malkin at her self-named conservative blog. One suspects they are really barking up the wrong tree.

Twittergate I

The headline was obvious: “Keith Olbermann: Twitt.”

In an extensive post, Caleb Howe of Red State details and unpacks how MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann casually defamed a liberal Democrat over a piece of junk e-mail sent by another liberal Democrat, calling it part of the vast right-wing conspiracy led by “Fix News” (by which he probably meant “Fox”).

“To summarize, about a week ago Olbermann named Twitter his ‘Worst Person in the World’ for allegedly refusing to stop a fraudulent imposter account. It seems that Olbermann received an email addressed to Dan Cooper which referenced the @KeithOlbermann Twitter feed. Olbermann implies that Dan, as part of an apparent Fox News plot to defame him, is running the account. Small problem in this theory: the account was valid. MSNBC held the account in Olbermann’s name. Also, as my interview with Cooper illuminates, the idea that he would be a part of some conspiracy with Fox is absurd on its face,” Mr. Howe wrote in a column at America Online’s Political Machine, boiling down the long story (though Read the Whole Thing).

Mr. Howe describes the convoluted, but richly detailed, account of how Mr. Olbermann’s rants into the MSNBC camera unraveled under third-degree interrogation of “two little tools I like to call ‘keyboard and mouse.’…

“At Redstate I’ve posted screenshots of Olbermann’s second Twitter account, which actually Tweeted the very segment in which he rants about not being a Twitterer. Yeesh. It’s funny, but the casual manner with which Olbermann maligns Dan Cooper is anything but amusing,” Mr. Howe said. “Olbermann recklessly ran with a story for which he and his staff clearly hadn’t done even the barest of research, something that is all too common for ‘Countdown.’ He pointedly posits a conspiracy theory, and gets every single fact wrong. It’s a perfect example of what passes for journalism at the utterly incompetent MSNBC.”

Twittergate II

Nor is that all about Keith Olbermann and Twitter. In his indignation, Mr. Olbermann insisted he never has been on Twitter. That demonstrably isn’t so, as the articles referenced in the last item show.

Greg Pollowitz at National Review’s Media Blog noted something else. “I actually was following Keith Olbermann on Twitter for a day or so, until I realized he wasn’t using it. Whoever is in charge of the feed now has blocked it from public view. But, from what I remember, the posts were in the first person. Maybe NBC should admit that it was ghost-posting for one of its anchors?”

Either Mr. Olbermann was Tweeting in his own name (in which case, he engaged in 200-proof lying). Or he wasn’t, and thus someone from MSNBC was writing 140 characters per post in Mr. Olbermann’s name, pretending to be him. From ghost-writing to ghost-Tweeting.

Or as Mr. Olbermann himself put it, in language that now reads so differently: “Just remember, whoever you think you are following on Twitter, might be them and it might not. Twitter, tonight’s worst persons in the world.”

Art history

Two weeks ago, President Obama set his schedule for a Catholic university whose name means “Our Lady.” (That would be Notre Dame.) And a fuss ensued. Then, last week, according to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had an encounter with an image of the Virgin Mary. And the protocol and briefing people who brought you the Russian reset buttons, Brazilian names and British DVDs did another bang-up job.

In a trip to Mexico, Mrs. Clinton stopped at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to see one of the staples of devotion to Mary, popular in Mexico and other Catholic countries. The Guadalupe image of the mother of Jesus as a native peasant is popularly thought to be a miraculous imprint made on the cloak of St. Juan Diego in 1531.

While viewing the famous image, Mrs. Clinton asked, “Who painted it?” The basilica’s rector, Monsignor Diego Monroy, responded, “God!”

“Who painted it?” repeats an incredulous Mr. Morrissey.

Added Warner Todd Huston at Newsbusters: “Now, perhaps Clinton being so woefully ignorant of anything religious isn’t such a surprise, but for a Secretary of State to be visiting one of the most famous and important churches in the region, one holding a much beloved religious relic, without even finding her staff informing her ‘who painted’ the image reveals a shocking lack by professionalism of both the Secretary of State and her staff.”

And Mollie Hemingway of Get Religion noted the complete lack of mainstream media news coverage of the gaffe. “Why was this story not deemed newsworthy? I’m sure some people would say that it’s just bias — that if, say, a Bush Administration official had said it, we’d be hearing all about it. I’m not sure. I suspect that it’s more likely we’re seeing the media’s ignorance of Mexico’s religious heritage and her most important religious picture,” she wrote.

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com