IN these secular times, celebrity-styled and self-appointed moral guardians have long replaced church leaders as the average person’s guide to the higher moral ground. Al Gore and his message on climate change is but the latest. In Australia to promote his film An Inconvenient Truth, Gore was given extremely soft interviews by Kerry O’Brien on The 7.30 Report, Andrew Denton on Enough Rope and Fran Kelly on Radio National. All ABC interviewers accepted Gore’s preaching without substantial query.
The problem for moral guardians is that often they take the high moral ground while simultaneously dealing in much of what they condemn. It’s called double standards. And right now the world of commentary is full of them.
In his film, to be released in Australia tomorrow, the former US vice-president lectures at length on the need for all of us to change our lifestyles to save the planet. We are sitting on a time bomb, he tells us, a planet heating to such an extent we have just 10 years before the apocalypse. We have a choice he says – “to bring our carbon emissions to zero”. We must use renewable energy and clothes lines, drive hybrid cars and cut back on consumption.
But a zero carbon emission is not a choice Gore has personally made. He owns three homes, one of which is a 930sqm, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville and another a 370sqm house in Arlington, Virginia. In spite of readily available green energy, in both Nashville and the Washington DC area, writer Peter Schweizer (USA Today, August 8) has revealed “there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy”. Gore usually travels to promote his film in a private jet.
Governments and citizens around the world must heed the message that carbon emissions need to be reduced and that the earth is warming to levels that cause concern. No doubt in that. But the hype of Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and his own performances in its support have given him guru status. Surely the least a guru can do is lead by example.
The hypocrisy industry is alive and well in secular democracies. Decades of campaigns from animal rights protests to anti-war marches have offered some notable Americans not only celebrity status but even comfortable incomes. This is the lucrative humbug Schweizer exposes in Do As I Say (Not As I Do) – Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy.
Take Michael Moore, documentary film-maker and guru of anti-Americanism and fashionable leftist causes. His hallmark characteristic is hero of the little man against the big corporations. He talks often of growing up in the working-class, wrong-side-of-the-tracks rust belt of Flint, Michigan. Flint has become a trademark for Moore – on his email address and website. In fact, Moore grew up in nearby Davison, the son of a middle-class General Motors worker who owned the family home, drove two cars and played golf after work in the afternoons.
Moore has a penthouse in New York and an extensive property on Torch Lake, Michigan, made of 70-year-old Michigan red pine trees. In spite of his so-called green credentials, he was recently cited by local authorities for despoiling a wetland in an attempt to extend his private beach.
Moore’s image exudes the ordinary guy, the man who can hack it rough with no interest in consuming goods. He derides the elite for their excess and need for luxury. This is the same man who couldn’t drink Poland Spring when backstage and had to have a ready supply of Evian. The same man who demanded he travel the country in a private jet and a fleet of four-wheel drives for his most recent book tour.
The hypocrisy industry has caught a number off guard in the fashionable global warming pronouncements. Barbra Streisand took neighbour and photographer Wendell Wall to court after he took shots of her at a car dealership looking at four-wheel drives, a clear contradiction of her plea a few months before for Americans to get serious about reducing fuel emissions. She had him arrested, pressed charges that led to bail being upped to $1 million so that he was held for three days. When the matter came to court, Wall was recognised to have been doing nothing offensive and he sued the sheriff’s department for violation of his civil liberties, which was settled out of court.
Schweizer’s study of the rich and hypocritical is full of such stories – of how those who preach loudest against the so-called evils of modern democracies have the biggest skeletons in their closets.
Legislators such as Democrat congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, one of the wealthiest on Capitol Hill, an anti-nuclear and environmental campaigner who owns and invests in property where environmental regulations are ignored.
Teddy Kennedy, whom Schweizer calls the king of liberal hypocrites, is fulsome in his appeals for greener choices. Yet the Kennedys, led by Ted, continue to oppose a wind project off Hyannis where they sail, even though the project is way out to sea. And as Ted preaches against oil companies, the Kennedys have invested in oil in Texas for decades, and even own the drilling rights on land that is not theirs.
Let’s save the planet by all means – but let’s not be fooled by those who preach loudest but do not practise what they preach.
Article published in The Australian