Thursday, March 01, 2007

Open Letter to Elisabeth Hasselbeck,
co-host of ABC daytime’s “The View”

Dear Elisabeth,

Congratulations! Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly top your persecution of Hillary Clinton for her egregious support of ethanol (a stance taken by, oh, 100% of candidates when campaigning in Iowa), you go and outdo yourself by complaining that Al Gore is not eco-friendly enough. Because his Oscar statue isn’t biodegradeable. Seriously? That’s what you were thinking about during the Academy Awards? Not, say, whether you’re skinnier than Celine Dion?

First, let me ask, have you seen “An Inconvenient Truth”? Because I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Mr. Gore for what he isn’t doing for the environment (e.g., living in a teepee or bicycling to speaking engagements in Japan) until you understand what he is doing.

He’s filling a leadership vacuum.

In the absence of any direction from our current administration, which, in the face of all logic, continues to consider global warming “fuzzy science,” Mr. Gore has taken it upon himself to educate Americans about the climate crisis. Shame on him.

You see it as hypocrisy that while asking the rest of us schmucks to reduce our carbon footprint, Mr. Gore continues to fly on airplanes and, horror of horrors, avail himself of electricity in his own home. You deride him for purchasing “carbon credits,” as if having trees planted to offset his consumption of fossil fuels were akin to oh, I don’t know, waging an illegitimate war.

Once again, you fail to see the forest for the kilowatts.

Whether Mr. Gore sets his thermostat at 68 or 67 degrees is not the issue (though I don’t doubt his home and lifestyle are far greener than the White House). What matters is the awareness he’s raised among the American public about global warming. And, subsequently, the pressure the American public places on its elected officials to respond to this crisis.

Because much as I would like to believe that we can halt global warming one compact fluorescent light bulb at a time, meaningful change can only come about by implementing large-scale measures of the sort that require regulatory and legislative mandates. Like capping the amount of noxious fumes industry can belch into the atmosphere or forcing auto manufacturers to adhere to higher fuel efficiency standards. Since Mr. Bush & Co. have shown no interest in doing anything of the kind (in fact, quite the opposite), Mr. Gore is encouraging us—the American electorate—to demand action.

I’m sorry that this bothers you. I’m sorry that it pains you whenever Al Gore receives credit for his efforts. But let’s keep this in mind: If your guy wasn’t falling down on the job, Al Gore wouldn’t have to do it for him.


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