People, believe me, I know you're rolling your eyes just reading that paragraph. Have pity on me. I tried to read the whole thing. You may ask, why did I not read the whole thing? Because you, conservative Tennesseans, have ruined me. Every time I was bopping along thinking "Oh, that Al Gore. He seems well-meaning," someone would pop up — in person, in a post, wherever — and say, "Al Gore? That condescending hypocrite?" And I would think "Oh, those conservatives. Al Gore is a good guy. Dull, yeah, but good."
I defy you to get more than four pages into that article without feeling like Gore thinks that you, dear reader, really need someone with a big brain to explain to you these important things in a way your little brain can comprehend.
But on Sunday, I stumbled on this post by Walter Russell Mead over at The American Interest, which is in response to Gore's Rolling Stone article, and, while I think you should read the whole thing, the takeaway is this: You cannot successfully lead a movement surrounding a cause that doesn't affect you enough to change the way you live, and Al Gore's problem is that, no matter how good he is at talking about the real consequences of dumping a bunch of carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, he doesn't actually live like he thinks the consequences are worth changing your life for.
You are asking billions of people, the overwhelming majority of whom lack many of the basic life amenities you take for granted, people who can’t afford Whole Foods environmentalism, to slash their meager living standards. You may well be right, and those changes may be necessary — the more shame on you that with your superior insight and knowledge you refuse to live a modest life. There’s a gospel hymn some people in Tennessee still sing that makes the point: “You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine.”
The average citizen is all too likely to conclude that if Mr. Gore can keep his lifestyle, the average American family can keep its SUV and incandescent bulbs. If Gore can take a charter flight, I don’t have to take the bus. If Gore can have many mansions, I can use the old-fashioned kind of shower heads that actually clean and toilets that actually flush. Al Gore looks to the average American the way American greens look to poor people in the third world: hypocritically demanding that others accept permanently lower standards of living than those the activists propose for themselves.
The whole essay is just one critique of Gore after another along these same lines, with some admonitions that the green movement take a hard look at itself thrown in for good measure. If the situation is so dire, why isn't someone, if not Gore himself, insisting that Gore live his life like it is?
It's funny, you know. Our enemies see the truth about us in ways we can't. It's not always useful to listen to the conclusions they draw from that truth, but it is useful to listen to the truth.