"Keith and Gail," Caldara repeated conservative falsehoods about Gore's energy use

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Radio hosts "Keith and Gail" and Jon Caldara parroted false claims of conservative groups and made their own misleading attacks on former Vice President Al Gore's personal energy use. But the three did not mention widespread news reports that the Gore family offsets its electricity costs with renewable energy purchases and invests in projects to reduce cardon dioxide emissions.

During the February 28 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!, co-hosts Keith Weinman and Gail Fallen cited a misleading column by Chuck Green to parrot other conservatives in attacking former Vice President Al Gore's personal energy usage, making their own false or misleading claims in doing so. Similarly, during the February 26 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, Independence Institute president Jon Caldara similarly attacked Gore by falsely stating Gore "is the icon for living an energy-neutral life ... a CO2-neutral life" but that "he's not doing it." But Caldara, Weinman, and Fallen ignored widespread reporting that Gore offsets "100 percent of his electricity costs" with renewable energy purchases and that Gore's investments in renewable energy projects permit the family to lead a "carbon-neutral lifestyle," as noted in an Associated Press article.

Echoing and at times misquoting Green's column, Weinman asked his listeners, "Is Al Gore a hypocrite?" after wondering aloud what Gore's personal energy use "says about his credibility." Weinman further asserted that Gore was "phony," claiming Gore "used more energy than the average family uses in a year ... [h]e uses, like, more energy in a minute at his house."

Similarly, Caldara interviewed Drew Johnson, whose organization, the conservative Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), originally questioned Gore's energy use in a February 26 press release. Parroting the TCPR press release, Johnson said of Gore, "[I]f you've got the audacity to stand up and tell me what sort of light bulb I need to have in my bathroom, then you'd better back it up by living the sort of lifestyle that you're preaching." Caldara added that Gore "is the icon for living an energy-neutral life. A CO2-neutral life, and he's not doing it."

However, as the AP reported on February 28, Gore's energy use practices are, in fact, considered "carbon-neutral." Moreover, according to the same article, Gore balances "100 percent of his electricity costs" by purchasing renewable energy sources:

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said: "Sometimes when people don't like the message, in this case that global warming is real, it's convenient to attack the messenger.'"

Kreider said Gore purchases enough energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance 100 percent of his electricity costs.

Gore, who owns homes in Carthage, Tenn., and in the Washington area, has said he leads a "carbon-neutral lifestyle." To balance out other carbon emissions, the Gores invest money in projects to reduce energy consumption, Kreider said.

Similarly, a February 27 article in The Tennessean reported that "Gore's power bill shows" his personal energy use reflects a personal dedication to reducing the human emissions that contribute to global warming:

"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk (the) walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, identified as a free-market think tank.

Gore's power bill shows, however, that the former vice president may be doing just that.

The Tennessean noted that Gore has been purchasing "blocks of 'green power,' " which, during the last three months, were "equivalent to recycling 2.48 million aluminum cans or 286,092 pounds of newspaper, according to comparison figures on NES' [Nashville Electric Service] Web site." Noting that the Gore family also does the "carbon emissions offset," the article explained:

That means figuring out how much carbon is emitted from home power use, and vehicle and plane travel, then paying for projects that will offset that with use of renewable energy, such as solar power.

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe, she [Kreider] said.

As Weinman noted, in his column Green wrote, "Gore isn't the only energy hypocrite in the environmental movement," and further stated that "[d]uring the Academy Awards ceremony Monday [sic] night" celebrities "arriv[ed] in gas-guzzling stretch limos ... while encouraging Americans to drive hybrid cars." However, according to the Tennessean article, Gore's car is a "Lexis [sic] hybrid SUV," a fact that, like Green, Weinman failed to mention.

Weinman also falsely indicated that Gore's family has estimated "it would cost $45,000 to retrofit his Colorado home for solar energy." In fact, Weinman apparently was misquoting a passage from Green's column that referred not to Gore but to a friend of Green's. Green wrote:

A friend of mine recently estimated it would cost $45,000 to retrofit his Colorado home for solar energy, and his isn't nearly the size of the Gore compound.

The misleading and inaccurate statements made by Fallen, Weinman, and Caldara echoed dubious criticism of Gore's energy usage elsewhere, as Media Matters for America noted.

In addition to distorting Gore's energy usage, Fallen repeated another long-debunked conservative falsehood by stating that "all this inventing the Internet" by Gore "took a lot of energy." As Colorado Media Matters has noted, numerous sources verify that Gore never stated he "invented" the Internet.

From the February 26 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:

JOHNSON: If -- if you've got the audacity to stand up and tell me what sort of light bulb I need to have in my bathroom, then you'd better back it up by living the sort of lifestyle that you're preaching.

CALDARA: That's the entire key. We can compare it to a president's mansion -- and by the way, the president probably has more stuff going on in his house than the vice president. Mind you, he's a former vice president. He's been a former vice president now for six years. He -- and he is the icon for living an energy-neutral life. A CO2-neutral life, and he's not doing it.

From the February 28 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!:

WEINMAN: We're going to update you on this whole Al Gore thing. Al Gore responding to the story we told you about yesterday that he used more energy than the average family uses in a year. He uses, like, more energy in a minute at his house at this mansion that he has --

FALLEN: What was the --

WEINMAN: -- in Nashville.

FALLEN: -- what was the statistic, that he uses 20 times more energy than the average household --

WEINMAN: Yeah, it's just insane.

FALLEN: -- at chateau Gore?

WEINMAN: It's just insane.

FALLEN: It's amazing.

WEINMAN: Talk about walk the walk. Talk about phony. I just don't understand. So -- so they're out in response to that story yesterday, and they're not denying it. Curious as to how you -- what that says about his credibility, what that says about credibility in general. We've got a study about what you'll accept with regard to presidential candidates, and you can lay it over the current field -- want to get your feelings on that.

[...]

WEINMAN: We told you about this Al Gore story yesterday, and the thing just hit the mainstream media, and a lot of people had a lot of fun with this. The story was that Al Gore, his mansion outside of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year. You can crunch all kinds of numbers if you want, but that's just the plain and simple truth. They use 20 times the energy, natural gas and electricity, in Al Gore's mansion that one American family does. Twenty times -- they use as much or more in a month than the average American family uses in a year. So the Gore people came out yesterday and said that, in response to the Tennessee center's revelations, the Gore family's begun switching light bulbs at the estate to these new fluorescent bulbs. They've begun spending about 400 dollars a month on power generated by alternate means, solar and other renewable resources. They're renovating their home to add solar panels. And they estimated it would cost 45,000 dollars to retrofit his Colorado home for solar energy. What does he have, a place like in Aspen or Vail or something?

FALLEN: I'm not sure, to be honest with you.

WEINMAN: They -- but, so in response to this whole thing the Gore people say, well we're changing from incandescent bulbs to these fluorescent bulbs that use little or no energy.

FALLEN: Mm-hmm.

WEINMAN: And there are some numbers that say if we all change to these light bulbs that we could cut our energy use by three-quarters.

[...]

Is that enough for Al Gore to be doing, or is Al Gore a hypocrite?

[...]

WEINMAN: We brought this up just briefly yesterday, this whole story about Al Gore using 20 times the amount of electricity and natural gas that the average person uses. And since his movie came out, that usage has actually increased; it hasn't decreased. Yesterday the story got into the mainstream media, and there was no shortage of people saying, wait a minute, hold on; he's asking average Americans to cut back on their energy use, but his use, which is 20 times what the average American uses by the most conservative measure, has increased in the same time period that he has asked all of us to decrease our energy usage. Is that hypocritical? Is he walking the walk? What in the world is going on here? They came out yesterday -- the Gore people came out yesterday and said, well we've started switching the light bulbs at the estate in Nashville to the new fluorescent light bulbs.

FALLEN: Hey, you do what you can.

WEINMAN: You really do, you really gonna sacrifice this.

FALLEN: Well, you know, and all this inventing the Internet, you know, that took a lot of energy. That put quite a drain, you know, on his resources.

WEINMAN: And we've all benefited so much from that --

FALLEN: Mm-hmm.

WEINMAN: -- we should thank him.

FALLEN: That's right. Cut him some slack.

[...]

WEINMAN: Chuck Green says what is startling is, those bills don't even begin to account for all the Gore family energy use, power they consume during extensive traveling, from private airplanes and limos to resort homes, of which he has one here in Colorado. During the Awards ceremony Monday night, the show was heralded for being the first green awards program in Oscar history, but that didn't prevent stars from arriving in gas-guzzling stretch limos, didn't prevent them from flying to California around the world in private jets and burning hundreds of power-hungry spotlights and stage lights during the show. Famous for jet-setting around the world on vacation, shopping trips, celebrity weddings, lecturing other families about the evils of hauling kids to soccer games in SUVs. That's very well said. While they're asking us to save the world by cutting back on everyday energy use, their own dress designers and jewelry consultants fly from Italy and France and New York for a one-night party in Hollywood. And you saw that at the, at the Academy Awards. Gore's spokesman responded to the Tennessee center's revelations about the mansion in Tennessee using 20 times the electricity that an average family uses by saying that the Gore family has begun switching light bulbs at the estate to fluorescents. They've begun spending about 400 a month on power generated by alternate means.

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