Inhofe's "Personal Energy Ethics" Pledge: Anatomy of a "still beating your wife" question.

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?"

More like this

Poor Al Gore, no good deed goes unpunished in his quest for climate change awareness. Only a few days ago he went before the Senate on a hearing on global warming. During which, climate change's biggest political foe, Senator James Inhofe and Gore argued heatedly. Now, the Republicans are moving…
The protocols of polite company would discourage labeling anyone a liar, but it is hard to come up with a more appropriate way to describe those who receive their paychecks from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. This conservative think tank has in the past proved themselves to be enemies of…
I thought I'd take a bit of a break for a change of pace. At the risk of falling flat on my face, I'm going to wander far afield from the usual medical and biological topics of this blog into an area that I rarely say much about. The reason is an incident that happened nearly two weeks ago when I…
Yesterday, Senator James Inhofe, Chair of the Committee on Public Works & the Environment, issued a challenge to journalists to stop what he called the "media hype" over global warming. Inhofe compiles a list of what he considers exaggerated distortions of global warming from recent and past…

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

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.

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.

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.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 23 Mar 2007 #permalink

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.

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.

By Scott Simmons (not verified) on 23 Mar 2007 #permalink


By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 25 Mar 2007 #permalink

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!


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.

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.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 27 Mar 2007 #permalink