Apparently complacent about criticism from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research that his family's energy use at his Nashville home is more than 19 times greater than the average American household's, Al Gore has committed conspicious energy consumption once again.
In Washington D.C. Thursday to deliver yet another speech warning Americans about global warming caused, Gore believes, by excessive use of fossil fuels, Gore handed yet more evidence to critics who believe he's a hypocrite.
He did so by traveling to his speech in what almost certainly was an unnecessary entourage of three luxury gas-guzzling vehicles -- two Lincoln Town Cars and a Surburban SUV -- one of which was kept idling outside for twenty minutes, apparently to keep the interior cool for the driver, Mrs. Gore and the Gores' adult daughter.
We know this because the free-market group Americans for Prosperity took a video camera to speech to film not only the Gore family's vehicle choices, but to interview Gore acolytes who declined sponsors' advice to walk, ride a bike or take public transportation to the speech. (You can see the group's very funny four-minute video online here -- my favorite part is the woman who tries to claim a taxi is public transportation.)
Gore's speech received a significant amount of media attention. I surveyed articles from major news sources (except for the Huffington Post, I excluded opinion columns) to see how many journalists covered Gore's decision to take three luxury gas-guzzlers to a speech decrying the use of fossil fuels.
Here's what I found in the first eleven news stories about this listed on Google News:
John M. Broder, New York Times, "Gore Urges Change to Dodge an Energy Crisis" - no mention of vehicles, but a very flattering picture of Gore
Dina Cappiello, Associated Press, "Gore: Carbon-free electricity in 10 years doable" - no mention of gas-guzzlers, but nice quote from Gore: "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels..."
Steven Mufson, Washington Post, "Gore Urges Fast Energy Makeover" - ended the article by mentioning the luxury cars and added a cute anecdote: "As people filed out of the hall, three black cars waited for Gore and his entourage. A young woman walked up to the first one, a Lincoln Town Car, and stuck a handwritten note on the windshield: 'I wish I were a Prius.'"
Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, "Gore challenges America to switch to renewable electrical energy by 2018" - no mention of luxury cars, but a nice quote from Gore about their use: "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change."
BBC News, "Gore challenges US to ditch oil" - no mention of cars
Nitya Venkataraman, ABC News (online), "Gore Wants Sweeping Energy Policy Change" - cars not mentioned
J.S. McDougall, Huffington Post, "Gore's Goal: What You and I Can Do" - no mention of Gore's energy use, but this comment by McDougall: "...we Americans will have to think small -- not globally, not nationally, not even statewide. This begins with your town. Your house. Your car. You. And me." (Not Gore?)
David Stout, International Herald Tribune, "Gore asks U.S. to abandon fossil fuels" - no mention of Gore's three luxury vehicles, but Stout noted that Gore was "no doubt aware that his remarks would be met with skepticism in some quarters." (I wonder why?)
Nadine Elsibai, Bloomberg, "Gore Urges U.S. to Develop Carbon-Free Electricity (Update2)" - no mention of Gore's own energy use, but quoted Gore saying "It's time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric." (All of us?)
CNN, "Energy crisis threatens U.S. survival, Gore says" - no mention of cars, but did mention the Gores' high energy use levels at home: "Gore's return to the political arena has drawn increased scrutiny, particularly of his energy use. In 2007, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research chastised Gore for 'extravagant energy use' at his Nashville, Tennessee, mansion. Gore subsequently has installed solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, compact fluorescent light bulbs and other energy-saving technologies in his home." CNN gets credit for mentioning the Tennessee Center for Policy Research's research about Gore last year, but CNN reported the Gores' installation of alternative energy sources without noting that the Gores' home energy use went up an additional ten percent this past year despite these installations.
Elana Schor, The Guardian, "Gore calls for end of using fossil fuels for electricity in US by 2018" - no mention of cars
Of eleven news articles, one mentioned the gas-guzzlers Gore used to get the to event and one mentioned that Gore has been criticized for "extravagant energy use" at home.
Final tally (I'm counting CNN): two mentioned Gore's personal behavior; nine did not.
Cross-posted at the National Center for Public Policy Research blog.