Al Gore has inspired me and perhaps provided a coterie of soon to be discomfited Palouse residents with a little cover. Last Sunday, Al Gore won an Academy Award for his scare flick, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about the imminent perils of global warming and carbon emissions. On Monday, the power bill for just one of his three mansions was made public and, on that house alone, Al Gore’s energy consumption is 20 times the national average.
I really couldn’t understand why the mainstream media paid so little attention to Al Gore’s carbon extravagant lifestyle and glaring hypocrisy. This guy preaches to the rest of us about how we need to reduce our “carbon footprint.” But he runs up a utility bill that exceeds most Americans take home paycheck heating and lighting just one of his mansions. Al Gore’s power bill is the moral equivalent of those photographs that caught former televangelist Jimmy Swaggart in a motel room with a prostitute. And that was big news. But Al Gore isn’t.
Apparently, the ever vigilant and unbiased mainstream media were satisfied with Al Gore’s explanation that he purchased “carbon offsets” from people and businesses that emitted less carbon dioxide than was morally allotted to them. Purchasing these credits somehow neutralized his own excesses and permits him to claim, with a straight face, that his existence on this earth is “carbon neutral.”
I must confess that, at first glance, Al Gore’s carbon credit scheme made me think that I could diet more comfortably by purchasing fat credits from skinny people. I was even more skeptical when I learned that Al Gore was essentially purchasing these carbon credits from himself. Al Gore is the co-founder and chairman of the company “Global Investment Management,” that buys and sells these carbon offsets.
Now, a cynic might compare Al Gore to Johann Tetzel, the 15th century papal peddler of indulgences who enraged Martin Luther by offering forgiveness from sin for a price.
"As soon a coin in coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs," was Tetzel’s sales pitch as he rode around the German countryside in his horse drawn wagon, advertising his franchise.
But certainly, a man who is known to his devotees as “The Goracle” could not be so cynical or ambitious as that. We have it on the word of his spokesman that Gore is not ambitious and a spokesman for Gore must be an honorable man.
And so, as a devoted free marketeer myself, I see this as a potential business opportunity that I might want to investigate. No, I’m not going to sell oatmeal offsets to people with high cholesterol or tofu credits to vegetarians who occasionally chomp a Whopper. What I’m offering are guilt credits to anti-Wal-Mart activists who succumb to the temptation of lower prices.
With every hurdle of real consequence passed and only gratuitous nuisance complaints remaining, it is now inevitable that Wal-Mart Supercenters will be built in Pullman and, in all likelihood, in Latah County just outside the Moscow city limits. And the day will come when each of those activists will find it more convenient or just so much cheaper to shop at Wal-Mart that they won’t be able to resist the pull any longer, and they’ll go inside and buy something. They might even stand in line on Black Friday to get their Christmas shopping over with early and inexpensively.
And I’d like to give them an opportunity to cleanse themselves of that embarrassment by offering low price offsets. Certainly there are people out there, like Al Gore and Paris Hilton, who are so filthy rich that they never have to consider retail prices. And we all know people who delight in conspicuous consumption and purchase designer label blue jeans at 5 times the price of the identical pair with a Kirkland Select label. Why not trade the extravagance credits that those people earn to crypto-Wal-Mart shoppers as guilt salve? Ever dollar they save at Wal-Mart can be used to purchase extravagance credits from me. If one of these activists is sighted by a fellow PARDner emerging from Wal-Mart with a gallon of milk that cost 50 cents less than it would have across the street, then the guilty party only has to display an extravagance credit to cleanse the record of the sin.
Why not? It worked for Al Gore.