- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gore’s utility bills

Back home in Tennessee, safely ensconced in his suburban Nashville home, former Vice President Al Gore is no doubt basking in the Oscar awarded to “An Inconvenient Truth,” the documentary he inspired and in which he starred. But a local free-market think tank is trying to make that very home emblematic of what it deems Mr. Gore’s environmental hypocrisy, ABC News reports.

Armed with Mr. Gore’s utility bills for the past two years, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research charged Monday that the gas and electric bills for the former vice president’s 20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours last year, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours.

“If this were any other person with $30,000-a-year in utility bills, I wouldn’t care,” says the center’s 27-year-old president, Drew Johnson. “But he tells other people how to live, and he’s not following his own rules.”

Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for the Gores, did not dispute the center’s figures, taken as they were from public records. But she pointed out that both Al and Tipper Gore work out of their home, and she argued that “the bottom line is that every family has a different carbon footprint. And what Vice President Gore has asked is for families to calculate that footprint and take steps to reduce and offset it.”

Bush’s example

In contrast to Al Gore’s profligate use of energy at his Tennessee mansion, President Bush’s 4,000-square-foot house in Crawford, Texas, is “a model of environmental rectitude,” according to a 2001 article by Rob Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune.

“Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this ‘eco-friendly’ dwelling use about 25 percent of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize,” the writer said.

“A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.

“No, this is not the home of some eccentrically wealthy eco-freak trying to shame his fellow citizens into following the pristineness of his self-righteous example. And no, it is not the wilderness retreat of the Sierra Club or the Natural Resources Defense Council, a haven where tree-huggers plot political strategy.

“This is President George W. Bush’s ‘Texas White House’ outside the small town of Crawford.”

Marc Morano, an aide to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, posted the Tribune article yesterday at www.epw.senate.gov.

‘A dead loser’

Newt Gingrich says Republicans must avoid bland centrism and Hillary-bashing if they are to win in 2008.

“There are two big facts about the 2008 election,” the former House speaker said in an e-mail inviting conservatives to the Conservative Political Action Conference, which begins tomorrow at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. “Fact No. 1: Running as a bland, business-as-usual Republican will be a dead loser. In 2006, the American people repudiated the GOP because the idea of Republicans’ trying to manage the liberal welfare state they inherited from the Democrats was a dead loser. I am not sure many Republican consultants have come to understand this. …

“Fact No. 2: Focusing on an anti-Hillary campaign will also be a dead loser,” Mr. Gingrich said, referring to Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. “The Clintons are the most determined and intense politicians of our lifetime. …

“If a campaign is going to degenerate into a mud-slinging contest, the Clintons will always win because they are vastly more ready to jump into the pit. The recent attacks over David Geffen and Barack Obama are just a sample of how quickly and fiercely the Clintons will attack if the campaign is simply about who can ‘out negative’ whom.”

Al and Strom

The biracial daughter of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond defended the former segregationist yesterday and said the Rev. Al Sharpton “overreacted” when Mr. Sharpton learned he is a descendent of a slave owned by the senator’s forebears.

“In spite of the fact he was a segregationist, he did many wonderful things for black people. … I’m not sure that Reverend Sharpton is aware of all the things he did,” said Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who was in Columbia, S.C., for a speech. “I kind of feel that there was an overreaction.”

Professional genealogists working for Ancestry.com found that Mr. Sharpton’s great-grandfather Coleman Sharpton was a slave owned by Julia Thurmond, whose grandfather was Strom Thurmond’s great-great-grandfather. Coleman Sharpton was later freed, the Associated Press reports.

When Mr. Sharpton learned of the link, he said: “It was probably the most shocking thing in my life.”

Mr. Thurmond’s children have acknowledged that he fathered a biracial daughter. Mrs. Williams’ mother was a housekeeper in the home of Mr. Thurmond’s parents.

No ‘wave’ in ‘08

In an early preview of House races in 2008, election forecaster Stuart Rothenberg says “a huge political wave favoring one party is not very likely” next year.

Mr. Rothenberg still thinks Democrats will have “plenty of opportunities again next year, including almost a dozen districts they narrowly lost and a handful of districts where they unwisely failed to field a strong challenger.”

But with the White House held by Republicans and Democrats in charge of Congress, “voters aren’t going to blame one party entirely for whatever problems exist,” he says in his Rothenberg Political Report newsletter.

Even so, “many observers are expecting more than a couple of senior House Republicans to retire. That could create more opportunities for Democrats.”

Hate speech

The liberal Huffington Post Web site (www.huffingtonpost.com) ran a wire story yesterday about the apparent attempt to assassinate Vice President Dick Cheney in Afghanistan. A number of its readers proceeded to make postings in which they expressed regret that the attack had not succeeded.

Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh read about a half-dozen of the foul postings on the air yesterday, and linked to the Huffington Post from his own Web site (www.rushlimbaugh.com). Not long afterward, the Huffington Post removed the most offensive of the missives.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes. com.

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