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Glenn Beck says we should look at what government does with gas taxes before criticizing oil company profits.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- We all want to live in a world that's clean, healthy and prosperous.
We all want to hand that world off to our children in slightly better shape than we received it. No one, even the supposedly evil oil executive, has any reason to want anything different. But, for some reason, we find ourselves searching for villains. Surely they exist, but the endless quest to create them sometimes overwhelms our better judgment, whether intentional or not.
Congress has picked "Big Oil" as their enemy of the week. These companies inexplicably put profits above people, ravaging the environment and financially assaulting the poor to put another couple of dollars on their balance sheet. That's the storyline we've all been taught.
Yes, times are tough for many. Sure, oil companies make a lot of cash. But, for that money, they get us to work, get ambulances to the hospital, keep our homes warm, and employ thousands of our friends and neighbors while financing their retirement, paying their health care, and providing energy to millions. Because of capitalism, they have the incentive to do that. I've yet to see what our government does for us with their rather large chunk of each gallon of gas we buy, and I've yet to see them offer to return it or suggest a gas-tax-windfall-tax-tax.
The other villain of the moment is the global warming "denier." Anyone who disagrees, even in the slightest, must be ridiculed. On "60 Minutes" last weekend, Al Gore said: "They're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off."
Approximately 6 percent of Americans believe in the fake moon landing theory, although I've always heard there was a conspiratorial consensus that it was staged in Nevada, not Arizona. I'm going to guess quite a bit less than 6 percent believe in a flat Earth, but no one seems to be asking that question in polls anymore, so I can't be sure. So, who are those people Gore was demeaning "a little bit" by these comparisons? There's a good chance it's you. That's because the vast majority of Americans believe something that categorizes them as a flat earther to environmentalists like Gore.
Despite the media's one-sided view (the Business and Media Institute says dissenting voices about global warming are outnumbered on CBS News broadcasts by a 38 to 1 ratio), only 21 percent of Americans say "the release of greenhouse gasses is the most important factor causing global warming" according to a 2007 New York Times/CBS News poll.
The "60 Minutes" piece wasn't just filled with misrepresentations of opinion; it had plenty of Gore-style hypocrisy. He was embroiled in controversy when it was revealed his mansion used 20 times more energy than the average American. His explanation? "Since then" his house has been retrofitted with solar panels. I'm sure Eliot Spitzer hasn't been renting many women since he was caught either. (Although I'm not betting my life on it.)
We then see footage of Gore's parents' farm that will, sometime in the future, be run on wind power. Apparently, the windmill store has been out of stock for the past 20 years.
Perhaps most comically, Gore is seen dragging an entire film crew on a jet to India to give a climate presentation to about 100 people. Gore claimed: "We just don't have any choice. I wish I knew a better way to do it. I constantly ask myself, 'How can I be more effective in getting this message across?' " The most effective thing you can think of is flying halfway across the world to speak with 100 people? Maybe you had other things to do while you were there, but I'd be surprised if there was anything essential that couldn't be accomplished with a telephone and a computer. The people in India will be able to see your fancy graphs on their screens, and you'll cut demand for those evil overseas flights.
The entire "60 Minutes" piece felt like a commercial for Gore's upcoming commercials. He's spending $300 million in advertising to convince people of something he claims there is already a consensus on. To put that much money into perspective; it's more than Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Edwards, Sen. John McCain, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul raised in all of last year combined. Think of it as going green by getting lots of green.
Where is all that money coming from? Gore says he's donating his profits from "An Inconvenient Truth," and his Nobel Peace Prize cash award. Let's be generous and say there's only $290 million left to explain. Apparently, a follow-up question to find the origins of this nine-figure sum would have involved six seconds that "60 Minutes" wasn't willing to commit.
What is there to learn from all of this? Whether it's politicians on both sides of the aisle or our vaunted environmental superheroes, the quest for power overwhelms even the slightest instinct of self-examination.
In the end, the timing of the Gore interview airing couldn't have been better. It fell on the same weekend as the first "Earth Hour," when the world supposedly came together to turn our attention to climate change by shutting the lights off for an hour. The imagery of monuments like the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, going dark was plastered over newscasts everywhere.
But those pictures highlighted the global warming movement and the congressional attacks on energy companies in an entirely unintended way.
Behind the darkened Sears Tower was the city of Chicago, with lights shining brightly as far as the eye could see. For one hour the Sears Tower knew what it was like to be Al Gore: A larger than life symbol, blocking our view of reality.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
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