At yesterday's Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Senator James Inhofe challenged Gore to sign a "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge." Inhofe's antics are nothing new - the man's been opposed to a reality based reality for years now, and he's pulled plenty of media stunts to highlight his claims about global warming. One more, even one that involves the former Vice President, is hardly newsworthy. In this case, though, the stunt that he pulled is such a classic example of the "no right answer question" that it's worth taking a look at.
Here's Inhofe's "Personal Energy Ethics" Pledge:
As a believer:
· that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival;
· that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use;
· that reducing my fossil fuel-based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions; and
· that leaders on moral issues should lead by example;
I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008."
This is cute, for a number of reasons. First of all, it's clear that this isn't a pledge that is targeted toward the average American. After all, it is by definition impossible for all of us to consume less energy than the average household. Inhofe is clearly targeting only Gore here, and he's obviously going after Gore on the "average household" thing as a continuation of last month's partisan hack job attack on Gore.
More than that, though, this one is cute because it's carefully crafted to leave Inhofe a line of attack no matter how Gore addresses the challenge. If he refuses to sign Inhofe's "pledge," then Inhofe can try to paint Gore as someone unwilling to step up and take the actions needed to back up his words. If, on the other hand, he agrees to sign on to the challenge, Inhofe still has a line of attack - Gore is obviously a deranged fanatic who wants to force everyone to give up creature comforts to save the environment.
It would have been more honest if Inhofe had just gone ahead and asked, "are you still beating your wife, Mr. Gore?"