When people try to explain to me that Al Gore is not a vile douchey douchetard of extreme levels, they always fall short because of the rich subject matter available. Let's get past some of the obvious issues--the creepy kiss with his wife at the 2000 Democratic Convention, the shameless grabbing of credit over the Internet's development (yes, I know he didn't mean that he personally invented the Internet, but he was still trying to take undeserved credit as though he was running one of the companies that pioneered the technology, and not some dipshit Senator), the fact that he lost the easiest layup of a presidential campaign against the weak and gaffe-prone George W Bush. But let's focus on his environmental activism.
First, there's the hypocrisy. He argues for reducing each family's carbon footprint, although his own is astronomical (as happens when you have several SUVs, several large homes, and fly by private plane a great deal). But then, hypocrisy is just a sign of poor character, rather than a sign that the message is wrong. After all, if your favorite baseball player spoke up a great deal about avoiding steroids, and you found out he was roiding up big time, well, that makes him a douche but doesn't make his roid ranting wrong.
But hey, Gore defenders say--he buys carbon offsets! He pays money to plant trees, so he's making up for his lifestyle! And Bush stole the presidency! (Gore defenders tend to go back to that point again and again) To that I say, fiddlesticks! (This is a fambly blog) If Gore's using tons of oil to heat his house, fuel his SUV and fly his corporate jets around the globe, he can plant millions of trees to make the world prettier and clean the air. But even if every American--and let's face it, if we're talking about wrecking the environment, we might want to point our gaze towards developing countries that are pumping a lot more crap into the atmosphere--plants a bunch of trees to offset their carbon use, that doesn't do one bit of good towards a much more pressing issue--our growing dependency on oil.
One imagines that during his eight lonely years as Vice President, Al Gore chafed as he saw federal fuel efficiency standards remain lax, and gas prices plunge to all-time lows, explaining the growth of exurban communities and SUV sales. One imagines he begged his president to raise gas taxes and use the money to invest in commuter rail, or approve the building of nuke plants which if coming online today could replace coal and oil generators just as oil supplies start slipping. So one can certainly sympathize, especially since this guy's silence didn't help him any when it was his turn to go for the White House, and despite little primary opposition, a strong economy and Clinton's high approval ratings, Gore managed to lose the closest squeaker of a race against a guy with plenty of skeletons in his closet and an inability to string two sentences together without screwing it up.
But the environmental message he's sending out now--that we can buy carbon offsets just like rich Catholics could buy indulgences in the old days to alleviate their own sins--is dreadfully irresponsible.