February 26, 2007
-- by Dave Johnson
Co-written with (mostly written by) James Boyce
(Note - visit this follow-up post for a link to Tennessee Center for Policy Research tax forms.)
Did you honestly think that the Right Wing $mear machine was going to let Al Gore stand up with the terrific team who created and direct the movie and receive an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth?"
Did you really believe they would stand by and watch a Democratic leader validated for his life's work?
No chance in hell. As we have said here before, They destroy our leaders. Note to Senator Obama: spare us the hope and bi-partisanship talk and help us fight back.
Here's what we know, what we think, what we're trying to find out and how you can help.
Last night, Al Gore got very favorable national press and worldwide television exposure.
This afternoon, a group calling itself "The Tennessee Center For Policy Research" sent out a press release denouncing Vice President Gore for the size of his household electrical bills.
Let's start right there. How did they get the utility bills? They also didn't have the courtesy to ask Vice President Gore about them (despite their hollow claim of being non-partisan.) And why would a "think tank" possibly care about what Al Gore spends on gas?
Actually, let's start with a more basic question. Who are these people? Well , a quick check of Alexa reveals their web site gets no traffic. Are they legitimate? Well, again, they claim to be non-partisan but only link to far-right and conservative groups so regardless of what their status is with the IRS, this is a conservative, strongly-leaning Republican organization.
We will be digging through IRS documents tonight because if you follow the money, you always find the answers. We will let you know who their donors are as soon as we can.
This group drops the pebble in the lake and now the machine really goes to work.
Front page of Drudge Report at 5:16 reports this press release from a group no one has ever heard of, who may or may not have stolen Al Gore's utility bills. Now, the lie has legs.
In the last twenty minutes, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has updated its website TWICE - both with radio interviews. The damage is being done as we watch.
But guess what? We're going to fight back. All of us.
Why? Well, first of all, Al Gore turning his lights on doesn't make him a hypocrite, it makes him a human.
Second, we've seen this game a few too many damn times. The trick is for them to create doubt and distraction. They need to create doubt all around the country about Al Gore. But there is no doubt.
Al Gore is a hero.
Even heroes need help - join us, add to the comments, let's find out everything we can about these guys and stop them in their tracks. Now.
NOTE: this post is a work in progress and will be updated frequently.
The echo chamber is engaging. Instapundit, Hot Air, Free Republic, WorldNetDaily, TownHall and several others are echoing and amplifying the $mear. RedState, Captain's Quarters. More here and here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Wizbang.
OK, now of course ABC News is picking it up.
A comment at DailyKos: "Hannity got the memo as well and he and Annthrax Coulter are hammering Gore for the same thing tonight."
They are part of the right's State Policy Network. According to PFAW,
"SPN is a national network of state-based right-wing organizations in 37 states as well as prominent nationwide right-wing organizations. Through its network SPN advances the public policy ideas of the expansive right-wing political movement on the state and local level."
As of Feb. 16, the Tennessee tax dept. considers them "not a legitimate organization" because of their misrepresenting themselves involving questions about the group's opposition to a state crackdown on drug dealers.
Responding to Drudge’s attack, Vice President Gore’s office told ThinkProgress:Morning Echo Chamber Update
1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.
2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.
Rush Update - Rush Limbaugh is spending a great deal of time promoting this story today, mocking Gore, mocking global warming science, mocking the idea of a carbon footprint, with music to the tune of "Ring of Fire" - the world will be a ring of fire... Said CO2 is put in the air by vegetation... But even though mockingly he did also at least mention Gore's response, that Gore says he buys green - and even gave the carbon footprint website address on the air. This was not to encourage people to visit, but to mock, but it was there at least. Rush says his objection is that environmentalists want people to change their lifestyle - to downsize the American lifestyle. "Ultimate aim of global warming religion followers is to blame the United States ... and empower a larger government to make regulations over how we live." Says Gore is a hypocrite.
After the break Rush said that rich, elitist Democrats want to live better than regular people, etc. Says that Democrats say that only by getting poorer and being controlled by government can we solve the climate crisis - we are being scammed like never before.
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Tracked on February 27, 2007 3:15 PM
So is there any amount of energy Al Gore could use that would make you call him a hypocrite?
Twice the normal average? Ten Times? How about a hundred times?
Or is anything he does ok by you since he made a movie?
This may all turn out to be BS Al Gore may go around turning his neighbors lights off but seriously if this is true wouldn't you feel just a little bit upset about a guy going around the world preaching do as I say not as I do?
Posted by: the ugly american at February 26, 2007 9:54 PM
Thank you for doing this. This is an excellent post.
Great work. Keep it up.
Posted by: Chief Ninja Monkie at February 27, 2007 7:24 AM
Glad someone is willing to fight the smear machine.
I've been berating the people that posted it without fact checking all day, and yours is one of the very few sites that bothered to do anything in regards to this.
I also love how they keep saying he spends 20 times more than the national average --- yes, he has a 20 bedroom mansion, and compared to the average 2 bedroom ranch, its going to look costly, isn't it? He's switched to green power and is certainly paying more for it, and put up solar panels - but the smear campaign's not going to look for that.
The site is certainly only for the right - I'd love to hear more of what you find and I'll help spread the word.
Posted by: Katy at February 27, 2007 8:01 AM
I believe I heard this on MSNBC this morning but they did follow it up with the response from Gore's camp. At least they told both sides rather than leave the bs floating in the wind.
Congratulations for getting linked today at Crooks and Liars in Mike's Roundup.
Posted by: pissed off patricia at February 27, 2007 8:23 AM
Thank you very much for doing this.
To the ugly american:
You seem to have no idea at all of the amount of good Gore has done.
Posted by: Stone Riley at February 27, 2007 8:36 AM
count ugly american as one who doesn't understand the concept of carbon footprints.
Posted by: phreak at February 27, 2007 8:37 AM
The issue is not whether or not Al Gore is a hypocrite or not.
If a doctor told you to eat vegetables to be healthier and you saw him eating cheeseburgers, that wouldn't make him wrong.
Posted by: Dan at February 27, 2007 8:37 AM
Keep up the good work!
Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2007 8:39 AM
I didn't vote for Gore in 2000 not because he was a snore but because I thought Leiberman really sucked. (And I like Nadar, say what you want, he fights for what he believes, and I also didn't know Bush is the anti-christ) but now I think Gore is a hero, and actually funny and yes.. human, not a robot. Although once a politician, always a politician. Meanwhile Leiberman is licking Bush's nutsack. But the right wing smear groups are unbelievable. My philosophy is don't knock it until you can do better. I hope these goons that are trashing people that fight for the environment all get some horrible disease so that Monsanto and Exxon can make yet another buck.
Posted by: Charley at February 27, 2007 8:51 AM
I think we have to keep the figure of "20 times the average", if true, in perspective.
From a scientific point of view, it matters very much where the energy comes from and what it's used for (heating the house? is gas used elsewhere?). If Gore uses electricity to heat the house instead of gas, and that electricity was bought from a renewable/green provider, then this conversation should not even be happening. An electricity bill does not include gas usage for heating and cooking, and so is not even remotely a good approximation to the total energy use. Heating a house is a huge energy use, and the quoted 10,000 kWh per year (for the average household) almost certainly does not include heating.
It also helps to remember that home electricity costs are generally a small fraction of an individual's energy use -- roughly 10-20%. It matters considerably more, for example, if you drive or not, or if you travel.
Furthermore, there are plenty of comparisons that I think the skeptics would rather not tout: For example, that the average American uses more than 50 times the energy of the average Earth citizen. In a world where energy is currently almost certainly a finite resource, is that morally acceptable?
Posted by: dan at February 27, 2007 8:52 AM
It would be convenient from the viewpoint of silencing interest in the typical looming disasters facing citizens of the world if they were to adopt , as the original post points out , the agency of Drudge for Sun Myung Moon , RNC or Mellon Scaife talking points . Accommodating that then is the issue . What is good for your local billionaire is good for who , what , why , where and when your local billionaire says . Thus any posture adopted for any reason that fails the billionaire smell test is met with a wall of sound usually referenced by drudge the reliable . If reason were sound . So regardless , despite the syllogistic fallacies requiring only the conclusion adding the two other elements per calumny or casuistic assaults , of the quality of an issue the individual and its circumstances it is the supposed failure of the opponents to apply the Olympian billionaire Midas smell testing which is cause for hysterical self righteous humbuggery . Free speech is what you can afford to say , not what you are able see and comment intelligently .
Posted by: Frederick Royce Perez at February 27, 2007 8:55 AM
but seriously if this is true wouldn't you feel just a little bit upset about a guy going around the world preaching do as I say not as I do?
This coordinated smear does nothing to solve the issue of global warming and is yet another diversionary tactic by the RW to muddle and confuse the issue. They have nothing to add to the issue but smearing someone who unlike any other Republican out of office...has dedicated his life to public service.....
The RW has already got what they wanted out of this story.....Mainstream COVERAGE.....
If and when this story is proven false how many of the RW blogs and media sources do you think will apologize publically to Al Gore .. the answer is ZERO!!!!
What I want to know is when is the RW going to pay with their job...
Already in 2007 RW media outlets have libeled Obama, Pelosi, John Kerry, and the entire AP news organization (Madrassa Gate, Plane Gate, AP Fauxtography-gate, Kerry eating w/soldier gate....etc...etc)
but NO ONE ever pays for it with their job!!!!
Posted by: Lib4 at February 27, 2007 9:02 AM
Gore shouldn't be producing documents saying, "See, this isn't so." He should go on the attack. The Bushes are, first and foremost, financial criminals. Gore should say so. Prescott had his assets seized for financially assisting Germany during time of war. Neil busted out Silverado Savings and Loan. Dubya didn't file his SEC forms on Harken Energy. Jeb got an $8 million building in Florida for like $50,000. Gore probably knows more that all this. He had access to all kinds of documents for 8 years. Until you put a bully in his place, you can expect a poke or a shove every day.
Posted by: Shado at February 27, 2007 9:02 AM
Anyone have a contact at MSNBC? I'd like to see KO get a hold of this smear trail and give it some more daylight!
Posted by: DFB at February 27, 2007 9:02 AM
Exxon has challenged Gore’s win of the Oscar. They’ve appealed to the Supreme Court to order a complete recount of the votes to determine the voters’ intent. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has ordered that the trophy company cease and desist any etching of Gore’s name on the Oscar until a full recount has been completed some time next year.
Posted by: Joe at February 27, 2007 9:24 AM
Check out this post:
for some context re: Gore's energy usage.
Posted by: Colin at February 27, 2007 9:28 AM
"This may all turn out to be BS Al Gore may go around turning his neighbors lights off but seriously if this is true wouldn't you feel just a little bit upset about a guy going around the world preaching do as I say not as I do?"
May all turn out, if this is true... bravo, way to go for the facts. You should be a Fox reporter.
If Bush turns out not to be an idiot and a criminal, I'll say I was wrong ok?
Posted by: buddha at February 27, 2007 9:31 AM
Purchasing carbon offsets seems like a good thing, but you are throwing money at companies that may or may not be using it for what you think. It reminds me of those save the children commercials. They have been airing for decades, but there has been little to no decline in the number of children starving around the world. As carbon offsets may become a waste of funding, elites like Gore should move into taking physical action to change the footprint of his family (which is already happening.)
Now if we can only get the Democrats to stick to their guns on this illegal war issue, oh wait, crap, too late.
Posted by: conservNOT at February 27, 2007 9:45 AM
Be real Ugly American...
Come on, you know what they do...
Being outraged by the "hit" against Gore is a valid response to the smear machinary the right-wing regularly uses...it's not honest comment.
They do this time and time again and people SHOULD be outraged that the rightwing leaders hide behind these anonymous Astroturf outfits.
They put out misleading or outright false information and then pass it around the circuit and treat it as fact.
So yes, Al Gore might be considered a hypocrite if in FACT his home used 20 times the energy of a SIMILARLY sized home with a SIMILAR number of inhabitants. I would expect the Gore home to be a family estate with significant security and possibly numerous family members living there.
So to compare the Gore home to the “median” family energy use is a very vague comparison that probably includes townhouses, row homes, and possibly apartments…who knows…but on the face of it the comparison suggests a desire to distort.
But we cannot KNOW that information from the press release even IF we were inclined to trust them not to distort or outright LIE...we cannot know that they are comparing Apples to Apples.
But anyone denouncing Gore based on a dubious press release from what is likely a drop box, Astroturf outfit, should be spanked…so bend over Ugly and drop your pants… LOL.
Posted by: Bobo at February 27, 2007 9:47 AM
CNN also reported the story this morning, but did also include Gore's response. Not in its entirety, mind you, but at least the information about their using renewable green energy.
Is there any depth to which the neocons will not sink in order to try to score a win? It sickens me that there are reporters who won't even bother to learn the rest of the story, and that there are listeners who will believe the misrepresentations.
Here's another one-half of a story they can run with: Little Boy Falls Down Well While Beloved Collie Watches.
Posted by: SpinyNorman at February 27, 2007 9:49 AM
Congrats on the listing!
This is the kind of thing we need to see more of: immediate action, exposure of the fraud/smear, and chronicling of the echo chamber offenses.
Posted by: Ricky Shambles at February 27, 2007 10:00 AM
I'm confused. Why does he need to live in such a big house? 20 bedroom mansion? Is that true? Is this the only house he owns or are there others as well? This is depressing.
Posted by: Christopher at February 27, 2007 10:03 AM
You know, the smear machine only works with the true believers. In other words, it doesn't work anymore.
People know that the Iraq war is based on a lie. They don't like their sons and daughter coming home without limbs, or in flag-draped boxes. People KNOW that this administration has created a disaster.
And, they also know that global warming is real, and that Al Gore is bringing a message of hope. So, f%ck the smear machine.
We're going to defeat more pro-death Republicans...and democrats who are too weak to fight for what's right.
Posted by: Publicus at February 27, 2007 10:05 AM
Is it true that Gore also owns large amount of stock in an oil company called Occidental? If so, this needs to be talked about.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2007 10:19 AM
"The Tennessee Center for Political Rubbish", puleeeez look at their home page, does it smack of anything preemptively paranoid and delusional (Republican)? "Anthrax Coulter"; I love it! Unfortunately, she's worse but her name doesn't rhyme with cholera or Ebola..
Posted by: William at February 27, 2007 10:20 AM
1. What Al Gore does personally does not change the facts of his message. We are a consuming society and there are a number of simple things we can do to both reduce our bills and reduce our "carbon footprint".
2. That being said, I believe in practise what you preach. Shouldn't Al Gore be consuming less or at least as much as an average American, especially because he is more environmentally concious than an average guy.
3. That the said organization is Republican is as critical to its message as is "Gore doesn't practice what he preaches" is to Gore's message. If the facts are valid, the message stands on its own feet, irrespective of the intensions or political leanings of the individuals or organizations.
4. Carbon offsets are useful; I am not saying they aren't. But don't let carbon offsets lure you into "feel good". Don't think for a moment that just because you pay chunks of money that you have done enough for the environment compared to the guy next door. Perhaps, the "environmental a$$hole" next door might doing more for the environment by keeping his house at 65 instead of 68, or by switching on heater in only one room of his hous instead of heating the entire monster, or by being too lazy to drive to work during the rush hour and reaching office at 10 am.
Posted by: Niket at February 27, 2007 10:27 AM
Great work, I've been watching the RW Smear Machine for over fifteen years and it's great to see a rapid response team in action. You're not the first, but you're in the top ten. Keep up the good work
Posted by: Chris at February 27, 2007 10:35 AM
BTW, I should add to my previous comment that a larger carbon footprint is unavoidable for Al Gore due to his travel schedules (air travel leave a large carbon footprint).
That is the "price" one is willing to pay in order to create a larger impact on the society. If, for example, his extra ton of carbon emissions might well result in 100 tons of lower emissions nationally, the larger foot print is more than worth it.
Posted by: Niket at February 27, 2007 10:38 AM
seems to me a house that's 10 times bigger than average would use ten times more kwh's. For the record, my house is a 3 bedroom split level, and we used more than 4 times the national average last month. I have all electric heat and it was crazy cold last month. And we kept the thermostat at 60 all month and used blankets and sweaters to keep warm.
So I would say this is pretty intellectually dishonest to say the least.
Posted by: JM at February 27, 2007 10:41 AM
I am sorry, but one last point. I didn't realize this when I made the previous comments. Really, I won't speak again.
Is that average for the entire nation? If it is, isn't that comparing apples and oranges? Because so many people live in "nicer" climates where HVAC isn't required as much as Gore might need. National average also accounts for all homes, studio apartments to large mansions. We can't just compare that number with Gores energy use.
Shouldn't Gore's office be pointing that too?
Posted by: Niket at February 27, 2007 10:46 AM
Gore is by far America's most dedicated public servant and probably the most respected living American. There is no conservative candidate or public figure that can play in the same league. It is no wonder that the war party, the would be imperialists. feel compelled to resort to what they do best, misrepresentation and defamation.
Posted by: Robert Castle at February 27, 2007 10:54 AM
They did this to John Denver in the 70's during the energy crisis. "They" thought they'd nailed him for hypocrisy because he had fuel tanks put in on his property in Aspen, CO.
They did this to John Denver in the 70's during the energy crisis. "They" thought they'd nailed him for hypocrisy because he had fuel tanks put in on his property in Aspen, CO.
I was told this in an attempt to weaken my environmental stance and to pull my support away from what he was doing. Didn't work, I said "good on him, glad he has the money to do that."
Necon$ and other con$ervative$ want to have it both ways... they want their rich to be able to tell you to live to excess, screw the environment, Rah, rah family values - and never tell them to shut up when they go in for sex tourism with a load of ill gotten viagra in their bag or tell their wife while she is in the hospital fighting cancer that they are leaving her for their mistress, etc. etc.
Oh no these people can speak all they want too, even on family values no less.
But let a progressive spend money on environmental programs, make money telling people about how we must change, fly around in a private jet, have a high electric bill for their house (carbon offset bought) and suddenly the left is full of rich hypocrites.
Maybe for the rich hypocritical conservative Republicans to explain carbon footprint offsets like say my trash day. You see I’m allowed one 30 gal. trash can, 1 reg. size kitchen trash bag and every approved item in my recycle boxes FREE, everything else I want to throw away must be in a special community approved trash bag (with community logo on it). I buy these at the local store, they are much higher than regular trash bags and you can think of them as an extra tax. That tax helps my community pay the cost of disposing of all trash my family and I produce that cannot be recycled or that we choose not to recycle.
People who don’t produce much trash pay nothing more, those who produce more, pay more. A targetted tax.
Now lets say con$ervative$ hold their own to the same “Shut up” standard that they hold to democrats/progressives. Why is Gulliani even in the race, why has Rush served no time for his illegal drug procurement, why is Newt even being allowed to say the words “value voter” or “family values” … to name a few.
How much money had Rush donated to drug rehab centers for the poor, how much money has Newt and Guilliani donated for support services to offset the devestation of those whose spouses chose adultery.
No more swiftboating!
Posted by: clytemnestra at February 27, 2007 11:06 AM
Here's where the right-wing smear machine's message is so disgusting. Their logic is as follows:
1) Al Gore says that global warming is a problem
2) Here are a number of things that contribute to global warming
3) Al Gore does a number of these things that are harmful
4) Al Gore is a hypocrite! Don't listen to him!
5) Therefore Al must also be very wrong
This is only slightly better than:
1) Al Gore ran against Dear Leader and lost (5-4 vote, at least).
2) Al Gore is a loser! Don't listen to him.
3) Therefore: if Al Gore says something is true, it cannot be true.
Posted by: Slaw at February 27, 2007 12:18 PM
When I was a student (and a newspaper reporter) at a large Eastern seaboard university, there was a large "expose'" in my newspaper about the President of the University and the amount of money that was spent on his residence by his wife. Huge amounts, according to the papers, were being spent on replacing light bulbs and other household sundries.
Later, I got to know that man's daughter pretty well and was invited over the President's Mansion a few times - and I realized why the mansion spent so much of the University's money. The family lived in only a small corner of the mansion - the rest of it was a venue for huge banquets and university fundraisers. It wasn't a house, but a campus building that the President lived in.
I realized the "expose'" was quite foolish. But it was never retracted or anything, of course.
Posted by: Patrick Casey at February 27, 2007 12:26 PM
I predict a web traffic graph for the Tennessee Center for Policy Research very similar to the recent one for the Victory Caucas. Drew Johnson is a wannabe Frank Gaffney with worse educational credentials.
Posted by: Rob at February 27, 2007 3:06 PM
Why can't the right wing give Gore some credit for a change?He's gone out of his way to depict the fight against Global Warming as a non partisan issue,which is exactly as it should be."Ugly American" isn't it better to err on the side of caution rather than to stick our heads in the sand?Doesn't it concern you that this "non partisan" think tank has been linked
to the biggest Oil Corporation on the planet?
Posted by: scott at February 27, 2007 3:12 PM
I think that instead of defending Al Gore as a person the effort should be on focusing on the larger issue, global warming. Debating Gore's electricity bills is a waste of time, and declaring Gore a hero just makes the debate about a person and not about an issue.
Posted by: Scott at February 27, 2007 4:19 PM
That's some carbon footprint G.W. Bush is making in Iraq.
Posted by: Copeland at February 27, 2007 8:07 PM
Don't defend Al Gore, tell Americans, an American Way of Life is possible without fearing the future. And Al Gore shows you how. :)
Posted by: hmm at March 1, 2007 12:38 AM
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