In recent weeks, chortling e-mail comparisons of President Bush’s relatively eco-friendly Texas ranch with the energy-gobbling Tennessee mansion of former Vice President Al Gore have buzzed around the Internet. Chiefly of interest to global-warming skeptics, they also find an audience with anyone with a taste for measuring hypocrisy. Is this churlish? Sure. It is a game of “gotcha”? You bet.
The facts virtually guarantee that this would happen. Mr. Bush is supposedly anti-environment. Mr. Gore is supposed to be the environmental conscience of the nation. “An Inconvenient Truth” ends with an exhortation to change our ways personally. But only one of these men lives in a home straight out of “Bobos in Paradise,” and it’s not Al Gore.
The Chicago Tribune reported six years ago that Mr. Bush’s 4,000-square-foot home uses geothermal heat from water pumped 300 feet into the earth, where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees. The water warms the home in winter and cools it in summertime. The system uses an estimated 25 percent of the electricity in comparable home heating and air-conditioning units. Mr. Bush’s ranch is relatively water-efficient thanks to a 25,000-gallon underground cistern, which purifies rain and home wastewater before the newly clean water is used to irrigate the surrounding landscape of native high-prairie plants and flowers. In other words, Mother Earth can breathe easy.
The particulars of Mr. Gore’s 20-room, 10,000-square-foot Belle Meade mansion are by now well known, thanks to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. The Gore house consumes more energy in a month than the average American household does in a year. Mr. Gore spent nearly $30,000 on gas and electricity in 2006. Of course, “carbon offsets” are Mr. Gore’s claimed recompense, they being investments in sustainable energy projects, reforestation or other salves for the energy consumer’s afflicted conscience. Mr. Gore also takes part in the local utility’s “green energy” program.
There will be a temptation on the left to dismiss all this as conservative hit-jobbing, which no doubt some of it is. But there’s more to the story than that. First, those who talk the talk should also walk the walk. That’s obvious, but the lesson clearly hasn’t been learned.
Second, and what’s less obvious: If we’re talking about hypocrisy and not questioning the underlying goal of reducing one’s “carbon footprint,” shouldn’t the left be pleased that such a major victory for the environmentally conscious has taken place? We should think so. But we’re not hearing it.