The Questionable Authority

At yesterday’s Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Senator James Inhofe challenged Gore to sign a “Personal Energy Ethics Pledge.” Inhofe’s antics are nothing new – the man’s been opposed to a reality based reality for years now, and he’s pulled plenty of media stunts to highlight his claims about global warming. One more, even one that involves the former Vice President, is hardly newsworthy. In this case, though, the stunt that he pulled is such a classic example of the “no right answer question” that it’s worth taking a look at.

Here’s Inhofe’s “Personal Energy Ethics” Pledge:

As a believer:

· that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival;

· that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use;

· that reducing my fossil fuel-based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions; and

· that leaders on moral issues should lead by example;

I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008.”

This is cute, for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s clear that this isn’t a pledge that is targeted toward the average American. After all, it is by definition impossible for all of us to consume less energy than the average household. Inhofe is clearly targeting only Gore here, and he’s obviously going after Gore on the “average household” thing as a continuation of last month’s partisan hack job attack on Gore.

More than that, though, this one is cute because it’s carefully crafted to leave Inhofe a line of attack no matter how Gore addresses the challenge. If he refuses to sign Inhofe’s “pledge,” then Inhofe can try to paint Gore as someone unwilling to step up and take the actions needed to back up his words. If, on the other hand, he agrees to sign on to the challenge, Inhofe still has a line of attack – Gore is obviously a deranged fanatic who wants to force everyone to give up creature comforts to save the environment.

It would have been more honest if Inhofe had just gone ahead and asked, “are you still beating your wife, Mr. Gore?”

Comments

  1. #1 Stogoe
    March 22, 2007

    “Are you still taking decriminalized bribes from Big Oil, Mr. Inhofe?”

  2. #2 Toby J
    March 22, 2007

    Of course, Gore already has reduced “fossil fuel-based home energy usage” by paying extra for green power. The conclusion of that “pledge” is incompatible with one of its own bullet points.

  3. #3 decrepitoldfool
    March 23, 2007

    Since Gore’s house is also his workplace, and that of his wife, you would have to factor in the energy profile of the average American’s workplace as well. I work in a big university building with, shall we say, a few low-bidder fingerprints on it. I bet in that calculation I use more energy than Mr. Gore does, and I ride my bicycle to work every day.

  4. #4 Ian Gould
    March 23, 2007

    Considering that the average household in Tennessee (where Gore lives)uses around 1.5 times as much energy as the US national average, I assume Inhofe will now be going door-to-door in Nashville with his pledge.

  5. #5 Jackie
    March 23, 2007

    I loved Gore’s answer that he purchases various forms of green energy for his house – for which he pays more, by the way, than for standard electricity. Inhofe clearly didn’t prepare for that kind of answer, which is exactly why he tried to move on rather than let Gore speark, and ended up practically getting beaten on the head by Barbara Boxer. This little trick completely backfired on Inhofe, and he deserved it.

  6. #6 Scott Simmons
    March 23, 2007

    Yup. Between my house’s inefficiency (gotta get that worked on!) and the premium I pay for 100% wind power, my electric bills are murder. But it’s worth it to me, as I imagine it is for Al, to reduce my carbon footprint. And I pity the fool who questions my commitment to environmentalism–let him pay my energy costs for a couple months.

  7. #7 Ginger Yellow
    March 25, 2007

    Spiritual?

  8. #8 Mongoose
    March 26, 2007

    Yup, I can run 250 100-watt lightbulbs in a 20,000 square-foot house 24/7 for a YEAR and not feel guilty becasue I buy an offset!

    That’s right, Al Gore’s house uses the equivalent of a 100-watt lightbulb every 80 square feet of his 20,000 square foot home, for a YEAR. You could see his place from MARS!

    My type of hero!

  9. #9 Metro
    March 26, 2007

    @Mongoose.

    250 100-watt bulbs? Seems like a lot. An awful lot.

    Of course–you did say “the equivalent” … D’you mean that he’s using 23-watt fluorescent bulbs? Or that he’s actually using a thousand of them?

    And he runs every one of them 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

    Shameful, just shameful.

    Thanks for the laugh I got reading your comment. It takes my mind off the fact that there’s a failed oil privateer in the Alabaster Asylum.

  10. #10 Ginger Yellow
    March 27, 2007

    Where does the YEAR come in? He uses that much energy every year? Or every day? Or every century? I’m not defending Gore’s energy usage, but your comment does not make sense.

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