During the May 1 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, talk-radio guest host Laura Ingraham used a well-known Republican tactic to smear Al Gore, former Vice President, climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ingraham took only those parts of Gore’s Waxman-Markey testimony that supported her contention and ignored the rest.
Ingraham may consider this balanced reporting, but here in the real world we call this a convenient and highly unscrupulous oversight.
Gore’s testimony, from the April 24 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing (on the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act), clearly stated that “every penny” he earned from his climate-change advocacy (i.e., books, movies, and investments in renewable energy) has gone into his nonprofit organization, Alliance for Climate Protection, which aims to persuade Americans to adopt comprehensive solutions to the approaching climate crisis.
By conveniently overlooking that part, Ingraham suggests that Gore has profited wildly from his activisim. Of course, Ingraham – who is raking it in hand over fist on her “conservative” (read Republican fear-mongering) talk show, books and appearances – probably hasn’t come into contact with a real penny for a decade. This, if not so infuriatingly duplicitous, would actually be funny, suggesting as it does that only a select few are allowed to profit from their labors.
Ingraham’s slant was less surprising than the usual Republican tactics, which frequently involve non sequiturs and Bible-bending (“God decides when the earth will end”), but the viciousness of her attack apparently took even Marc Morano by surprise.
Morano – whose climate-change denial website Climate Depot purports to “redefine” global warming – cautiously suggested that Gore was an ideologue, so it wasn’t fair to say he was “doing it all for the money” (this is known as damning with faint praise). Morano was quick to add that global warming is “big business” in Washington, with four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress – a remark that undoubtedly restored him to the right-wing climate denial fold, though probably not without a proverbial rap on the knuckles at some future date.
What Morano failed to note was that the largest sectors in this lobby are manufacturing, power companies, and the oil and gas industry, all of which oppose climate legislation and carbon taxes. In fact, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, or ACCCE (representing 48 mining firms, coal-hauling railroads and coal-fired utilities), was 2008’s biggest lobbyist group, spending $9.95 million, or more than any other organization.
But back to Ingraham, who suggested during the talk show that Gore has used his activism to enrich himself to the tune of about $98 million. Morano hastened to note that Gore’s future earnings from his carbon market operations will, if cap-and-trade passes, make the $98 million look ‘pikerly’ (someone buy that man a Thesaurus; next time try paltry, Morano).
My takeaway from the O’Reilly episode? The Republican right has backed itself into such an indefensible position on climate change, misrepresentation is the last defense.
This is a guest post by Gus Van Harten, professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and author of Sold Down the Yangtze: Canada's Lopsided Investment Deal with China. This post originally...