Al Gore is a Hypocrite?

Via Nathan Smith
on May 5, 2010
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If it weren’t for the fact that I follow Bill O’Reilly’s twitter feed, I probably wouldn’t have caught this.

Yeah, that’s sad.

Last week, the LA Times reported that Al and Tipper Gore purchased a roughly $9,000,000 Italian-style villa with an ocean view in Montecino, CA.

The couple spent $8,875,000 on an ocean-view villa on 1.5 acres with a swimming pool, spa and fountains, a real estate source familiar with the deal confirms. The Italian-style house has six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

I’m sure it’s lit with LED and compact florescent light bulbs, right?

Back in ’07, when the story broke about Gore’s 10,000 square foot mansion in Tennessee, I shrugged. He defended himself: don’t attack the messenger just because you don’t like the message. And then he purchased carbon offsets, etc., etc. If you’re rich in American, I reasoned, you have a larger carbon footprint. It comes with the territory.

But after all that, wouldn’t you think he would learn?

The really crappy thing about all this is that it will give climate-change deniers all the more fuel for their fire. In this new anti-green investment, they can see plenty of justification for the claim that Gore is in the climate change fight to make more money, not to save the planet.

In the political world, sometimes the messenger is the message.

Walk the talk, man.


About Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith is a philosophy professor at Houston Community College - Northwest. He's a father of two and husband to fellow elephant columnist, Joana Smith. As a philosopher, he specializes in Descartes, the philosophy of mind, and phenomenology. He's interested in all kinds of things, but he blogs primarily about politics, spirituality, and good, green living. Follow him on twitter @smithnd. And share your thoughts in the comments; he doesn't bite.


39 Responses to “Al Gore is a Hypocrite?”

  1. Rock My Soles says:

    Add that in with his other house BIG. This may be the reason why I am not fond of any politician forget the party after a short time they all start to rot. But he did invent the internet so it may be OK..

  2. Good post. I'm a huge fan of what Gore has done, and sacrificed, and pushed into the public's consciousness—a public more in love with Britney Spears and Justin Bieber etc etc ad nauseum. That said, yah–I'd love to hear from Gore on how this could possibly be eco-responsible. I don't mind wealth, or the display of it–you earn what you earn, and this man is a hero and VP etc. But…sheesh.

  3. Jen says:

    zzzzz….all you fault finders.
    He still brought the issue into the limelight in a bigger way than anyone else I can think of.
    How 'bout you? Do you suppose you got more people to conserve energy or even understand the issue than Al?
    What ever !
    Now go turn off your lights.

  4. Andrew Armiger says:

    So let us (finally) commit en masse to reforming campaign finance and remove all corporate donations. Unless and until we do that, every progressive cause will be an uphill battle.

  5. bryan says:

    is any one of us reading this living within
    our fair share of the planets resources? is it ok to
    use 25x versus 100x?

  6. Well, Jen, I'm generally inclined to agree with you, but you should direct your questions to the author. elephant is not one voice, but a community. We're about dialogue, not clubby agreement. So bring it on! Comments and questions and diagreements, with respect, are welcome!

  7. Don't ponder others? I agree with you right up until that "Dharma" phrase used in support of your agrument. And again, this isn't a post by elephant, or by me…Waylon Lewis…this is a post via Nathan, so direct your questions or points to him, svp.

    I would only say that Rinpoche after Rinpoche says: because I am an example, I have to act like one. I remember Ato Rinpoche saying this: if I make mistakes, that's very damaging. People look to me.

    Al Gore is one of my heroes. I've personally written dozens of posts about him. He's brought the issue of climate changing to America's, and the world's, awareness. For that we owe him an infinite amount. He's like the Churchill in the 30s, warning against coming threats, only to be too-often ignored.

    All that said, he has become an example. He has to act like one, or he'll subject himself to serious criticism, and hurt the very cause he's so devoted to.

  8. Well, I'm using punctuation, so it's a start.

    I do think it does matter that we try and do our best. Living in a huuuuge mansion may not be doing our best.

  9. Greg says:

    It is much, much, much worse than that mansion.

    Elephant, I know it will be painful to go through the realization that your hero has been nothing but a huge crook. But to win that journalism award that will make your career you need to investigate the real Gore agenda and his ownership position in the Chicago Climate Exchange – CCX.

    This is a scam set up by a foundation on which Obama and Valerie Jarrett were directors. They funneled the first money to set it up. Then lots of chicanery took place which I will not detail here. Then Al Gore buys in big. And Goldman Sachs buys in. And it is nothing but a boondoggle scam that will not help the environment one single bit but which requires Cap and Trade laws to make the scam work.

    Gore's entire (factually incorrect) program has been nothing but a push to set up laws that will enrich him to the tune of billions. Yes, billions. That one mansion is a summer cottage compared to what we have coming down the road.

    The bitter taste of betrayal is upon us.

  10. senshin says:

    "Judge not and ye will not be judged"

    This is always the problem with people who are used to a comfortable life. Trapped. I am sure he tries to make the best of it, still it is not a very intelligent signal !

  11. Where Gore got his money from…looks like Apple, Google stock.

    Donates all his money from Inconvenient Truth etc (see link above)

  12. Where Gore got his money from…looks like Apple, Google stock.

    Donates all his money from Inconvenient Truth etc (see link above)

  13. Where Gore got his money from…looks like Apple, Google stock.

    Donates all his money from Inconvenient Truth etc (see link above)

  14. Andy says:

    Becoming rich and being good to the environment do not have to be mutually exclusive.

  15. Marcus says:

    What? Are Al and Tipper supposed to live in a geodesic dome, "off the grid," stop bathing, wear itchy hemp clothing and so on in order to have some green/hippy/crunchy granola cred? It's amazing how facist progressives/greenies/hippies can be. We have no idea how he may be offsetting his carbon footprint and perhaps retrofitting this house to be "greener." This is contempt prior to inverstgation. This man has done more for the green movement than any other human being in history. He's also very rich, yes, so the scale of his so-called infractions is going to be much larger. Those of us of lesser means make our own poor environmental choices that get no press coverage. You know what I did yesteday? I used Comet on my tub because that green hippy shit cleanser simply would not get the mildew off my crappy shower. There — I said it.

  16. smithnd says:

    A good point, Andrew. Money is intimately connected to political influence. And this is a source of a lot of problems.

  17. smithnd says:

    Jen – So true. Would that I had one-tenth the influence of Al Gore.

    I'm really grateful for this small platform where I get a chance to talk about things I care about and grateful that I have as many people read this stuff as I do.

    That said, I think the ethos of "walk the talk" is very important in the public sphere. Words are actions. But actions speak louder than words. So when Gore tells us that we should all change our light bulbs and then goes and buys *another* monstrous mansion, what he does undercuts what he says.

    Of course, the ad hominem of shooting the messenger is a fallacy, but it's a fallacy that has political weight. People are going to be disillusioned by this and it's going to make our job harder. It is my opinion that we, as people who care about green issues, should speak out loudly about this because then we have the chance to manage the discourse and the reaction.

    We cannot defend Al Gore blindly, here. He messed up and he deserves our reproach.

  18. smithnd says:

    Greg –

    This is the narrative that I want to oppose. Al Gore has made – I believe – a serious political and ethical mistake by purchasing more than any one person needs to own. He is not living up to the standards that he has set for himself. He's not walking the talk.

    But there's nothing underhanded about the overall enterprise he's engaged in. He has profited personally from books, movies, and speaking engagements, not through some scheme to get us all participating in some financial shell game. The Chicago Climate Exchange is a perfectly legitimate enterprise. It is a test-case for the cap and trade system which I think is a great idea. The principles behind it are sound and no founder of the exchange stands to make any special profit off of it. It's a market for trading carbon offsets just like any other of the myriad markets that trade on weather, coffee beans, futures, equities, what have you.

    Also, Gore's Inconvenient Truth has been largely vindicated by scientists. Even the much maligned "Hockey Stick Graph" has been replicated and confirmed as an accurate description of the changes in global surface temperature:

    We should not let Al Gore's misdeeds sully the argument that he has promoted. His science and logic were sound. But his behavior is unthinking. That is the point of this post.

  19. joana Smith says:

    Yo' Nathan! Who do you think you are calling Al Gore to "Walk the Talk?? some crazy nobody? He's Al Gore! Who, the hell do you think you are some kind of a superstar?*

    love you babes.

  20. Amen! Doing well and doing good is the goal of myself, personally, and perhaps many elephants. It's silly to think that doing good has to mean you'll be unsuccessful in life. That said, consuming way more than our share is not necessary, even if you're rich. Though I've read that VP Gore buys offsets for everything he does.

  21. integralhack says:

    Absolutely. And please, Waylon, splurge a bit and get yourself an Eco-Latte now that you finally have a pittance rolling in from subscribers. 🙂

  22. integralhack says:

    I would like to see Gore weigh in on this. I suspect that someone like Gore needs to have a big splashy pad to entertain and gain the support of celebrities as well as rich corporate executives who wouldn't dream of partying in a yurt.

  23. I have always had a hard time trying to be a fan of Al Gore. No, he needn't live in a shack, off the grid, but since he is essentialy the poster-child for the green movement, shouldn't he at least make an attempt to walk the talk?

  24. Carlo says:

    At least he bought an existing house instead of building a new one…

  25. DarrinYES says:

    Al unravels the potential impact of his message and feeds skepticism and doubt, when he makes a demonstratively exagerrated and contrasting choice, such as this. It is of course his personal choice to spend his dollars as he wishes, but he must know that he sacrifices some quality and quantity of support from people like myself, when he dilutes his overtly-expressed truth, by indulging his attachments and ego-based passions in a gross manor.

  26. The Deacon says:

    Eat the rich. For those 2% which control 90% of the world's resources, how many are going to experience the austerity required to off set the rampant destruction/consumption of OUR world's resources? Another example that climate change is to be shouldered by the (relatively) poor, not those that can buy their conscience with carbon credits.

  27. christina says:

    I am too much of a slob to have runners, or any other nice rugs/carpets in my kitchen. it sure does look nice though. Not quite my style, but nice.
    I have been anti-everything-Gore since Tipper and the PMRC and the Gestapo tactics used against the Dead Kennedys because the PMRC insisted the work of HR Giger is porn and not art.
    I have no problem with people living in large houses on huge estates. Eliminating that is hardly going to save the planet. A politician being a total dick and a hypocrite? Could it be any other way?

  28. christina says:

    Before you eat the rich, or burn them or whatever else you want to do and before you feel so holy and pure in your greenness,
    perhaps you should read this. It directly discusses you and Gore

  29. Greg says:

    My sense is that there is serious misunderstanding of what Cap and Trade is about — it is nothing but a scheme, a scam, set up to profit those who are clever at manipulating the law and using their political position to enrich themselves. It will bankrupt most Americans.

    Gore is into this up to his neck — along with everyone's favorite gang of crooks, Goldman Sachs. Obama, prior to becoming president, was instrumental in setting up the scheme. This is corruption at a level that will stun any honest man.

    The Green Movement folks are mere pawns in this scam. If I were you, I would want to make sure that I was not being used to further Gore's scam.

    Please do not take my word for this… do the research on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Research its founders. Follow the money. Research those who are invested and stand to make huge profits. Research what products, exactly, the exchange will produce. Try to figure out just how they will better conditions. The boys of Enron loved this scheme… this is Enron and Madoff on steroids.

    This is an age in which discernment is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

  30. The Deacon says:

    "Eat the rich" is tongue-in-cheek. My point is the disconnect between the 'green' lifestyle being sold to the masses versus the lifestyle being lived by those who are selling it.

  31. Nathan Smith says:

    We live in a warped world. I just thought Gore had seen some of this clearly. Apparently not.

  32. Nathan Smith says:

    DarrinYES – yes. my point exactly.

  33. Nathan Smith says:

    … silver lining?

  34. Nathan Smith says:

    This is an interesting article, Christina.

    Elephant covered this back when it came out:

    I commented on that post and I'd reiterate the same here: There is a great misunderstanding that somehow by doing green things around the house you are "saving the world." You're not. The point of doing this is to live a different life; one that makes a statement and has a higher sense of purpose. Some people are motivated by this, others are not. The most important thing is to seek changes in the law, political changes.

    So, back to Gore. He has done the political part effectively. And with his personal actions (now buying another huge home), he demonstrates that his political action is not a personal commitment. I think this shows political blindness and an obvious lack of self-awareness. He's going to get skewered in the righ-leaning media and we shouldn't let him off the hook either.

  35. Robert Bullock says:

    There's one major logical problem with that article… The corporations that are consuming most of the world's resources are doing so on our behalf, to deliver the food, products and services we are demanding. So while direct personal consumption or energy or water, etc. may be a small percentage, we are still indirectly driving resource consumption in other ways.

  36. Nathan Smith says:


    I'm not sure where the misunderstanding lies, but there's nothing nefarious about politicians working with financial industries (even very profitable and in some other cases morally questionable ones). This is not Enron or Madoff, it's just a market — an open one where people trade stuff and try to make money. The basic idea is this: in order to decrease or eliminate negative externalities (such as polition) caused by industry, the gov. has to place a tax on the externality, called a Pigou tax. Now, obviously getting a large new tax on industry is politically difficult to manage. So, some politicians have come up with a very clever scheme to get businesses in on the idea, by proposing a cap-and-trade system. (Interestingly, many other things could fall under the cap-and-trade rubric, but are simply taken as the ordinary course of affairs: commodoties futures, pollutant credits such as sulfur dioxide.) There is a serious debate about whether the initial credits should be auctioned, rented, or given to industry participants. The debate surrounds how to ease the effects of this tax being passed on to consumers. But there isn't any serious debate about whether or not cap-and-trade amounts to stealing or any other chicanery.

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  38. King Condor says:

    Enviromentalists hypotcrits are the worst kind of hypotcrits around

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