- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 24, 2007

Al Gore unabashedly announced in Congress last week that he’s coming for our wallets. In his over-the-top testimony about global warming being a “planetary emergency” and “the greatest crisis we’ve ever faced,” Mr. Gore testified for energy taxes and other policies that would result in more expensive energy — including a total ban on the incandescent light bulb. For attentive listeners, he also contradicted his own prior statements and debunked his alarmism.

Testifying Wednesday before the House Energy Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Mr. Gore drew mostly praise and softball — if not sycophantic — questions from congressional Democrats and even many Republicans.

Those few Republicans, like Texas Rep. Joe Barton and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who tried to grill Mr. Gore operated at quite a disadvantage, given they were no longer the chairmen of their committees and had little control over the hearing. In the Senate, Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer ran interference for Mr. Gore by disrupting Mr. Inhofe’s questioning and then added insult to injury by mocking Mr. Inhofe — to audience applause — for no longer being committee chairman.

Ultimately, Mr. Gore’s exposure to tough questioning was extremely limited while the committee chairmen allowed ample time for meaningless pleasantries and redundant fawning. Given what’s at stake in the global warming debate, the hearings were an embarrassing abdication of congressional responsibility.

Nevertheless, there were several noteworthy instances reflecting poorly on Mr. Gore’s credibility, concern for the public’s welfare and scientific argument.

With respect to his credibility, Al Gore denied to the House Committee that he ever said global warming would cause “more” hurricanes. But all you need to do is look at the front of his own book, “An Inconvenient Truth” where he writes, “The voluminous evidence now strongly suggests that unless we act boldly and quickly to deal with the underlying causes of Global Warming, our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes, including more and stronger storms like Hurricane Katrina, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.” Mr. Gore’s testimony wasn’t given under oath, however.

On the Senate side, Mr. Inhofe confronted Mr. Gore with the hypocrisy of his preaching to the rest of us about the need to use less energy — including taking colder showers, hanging laundry outside to dry, and keeping our homes colder in the winter and warmer in the summer — while his own personal electric bill for his Nashville mansion is 20 times the national average.

Mr. Gore said he purchases so-called “green energy” — electricity produced by wind turbines, solar panels or methane gas — for his mansion. He failed to mention, however, that he just began purchasing green energy in 2007, though he has been telling anyone who will listen for years that they need to green-up their energy use.

Moreover, the green energy he buys in Nashville is not entirely “green.” The power produced with methane needs to be co-fired with coal, which produces carbon dioxide. Sure, less coal is used, but Al Gore testified in Congress that he purchases green energy that produces no carbon dioxide and that we should have essentially zero-tolerance for electricity produced with coal.

Mr. Inhofe asked Mr. Gore to take a “Personal Energy Ethics Pledge” to consume no more energy than the average American household. Mr. Gore ignored the request.

Missouri Sen. Kit Bond showed Mr. Gore a picture of a young girl who, because her family can’t afford to heat their home, has one coat to wear inside her home and another for outside. Asked how higher energy prices that would result from global warming regulation would affect the little girl, Mr. Gore ducked the question and only uttered support for the federal low-income energy program known as LIHEAP— the very program that now works so well the girl needs to wear a coat indoors.

At the very end of the Senate hearing, Mr. Gore inadvertently debunked global warming alarmism.

Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican, asked Mr. Gore the pivotal question of whether atmospheric carbon dioxide increases have historically preceded or followed increases in global temperature. If temperature increases precede carbon dioxide increases, the notion that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are changing global temperatures would have the cause-and-effect relationship exactly backward.

Mr. Gore responded by describing how, depending on the Earth’s tilt and wobble as it revolves around the sun, sometimes carbon dioxide increases precede temperature increases and other times temperature increases precede carbon dioxide increases — leading attentive listeners to wonder, then, well why worry about manmade global warming if it’s the Earth’s tilt and wobble that defines the carbon dioxide-temperature relationship.

Apparently realizing his self-defeating statement, Mr. Gore tried to backtrack by saying that, currently, carbon dioxide increases are preceding temperature increases. It was a desperate and revealing effort to get back on message.

Fortunately for Mr. Gore, Mr. Thomas failed to pick up on the sleight-of-hand, his time for questioning ran out and the frustrating hearing essentially ended.

Based on how the Democrats managed the hearings, Mr. Gore’s warning that we have about 10 years to address global warming before “it’s too late,” his call for an immediate freeze on greenhouse gas emissions and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announced desire to have a bill by July 4, you might think a global warming bill is imminent. But Mr. Inhofe intimated to a group of bloggers this week that Mrs. Boxer doesn’t want legislation this year, preferring instead to have global warming as a campaign issue in 2008.

Mr. Gore has repeatedly said — including at the hearings last week — that global warming is a “moral issue” not a political one. If so, he apparently has yet to convince Mrs. Boxer.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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