During a report on Al Gore's testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Fox News' Major Garrett reported that, in response to Sen. James Inhofe's question, "Are you ready to change the way you live?" a reference to Gore's documentary, Gore replied that "he didn't have to because he purchases a variety of environmental credits." In fact, Gore indicated in his response that he had changed his lifestyle and is continuing to do so.
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On the March 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News congressional correspondent Major Garrett mischaracterized an exchange between Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK) and former Vice President Al Gore during Gore's testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Garrett reported that Inhofe "posed a question to Gore that Gore himself poses at the end of his documentary [An Inconvenient Truth], quote, 'Are you ready to change the way you live?' a reference to Gore's Tennessee compound." According to Garrett, Gore replied that "he didn't have to because he purchases a variety of environmental credits, meaning, though his compound consumes a lot more energy than the average home in America, it's global warming neutral, he said." In fact, Gore said that he and his family "purchase wind energy and other green energy that does not produce carbon dioxide," that his personal life and his two businesses are already "carbon neutral," and that he is "in the midst of installing solar panels" at his home.
Contrary to Garrett's claim that Gore said "he didn't have to" change his lifestyle, Gore actually indicated in his response that he had changed his lifestyle and is continuing to do so. Responding to Inhofe, Gore added that, in addition to living a "carbon neutral life" and purchasing "green energy," he was "in the midst of installing solar panels" at his house. Gore suggested he was prohibited from doing so at an earlier time because his community "prevent[ed]" him from installing the panels. Gore stated that he "never made that public, by the way. The community where I live, it's a city within a city," which evidently had regulations prohibiting the installation of solar panels, but "I asked them to change it and they said, 'We will. It just takes time.' "
Inhofe asked Gore to "agree to consume no more energy in your residence than the average American household by one year from today." In response, Gore noted that he and his wife "purchase wind energy and other green energy that does not produce carbon dioxide." Gore continued, asserting, "[T]hat does cost a little more, now, and that is one of the reasons why" his home's utility bills "cost a little more." In a recent release that received widespread attention, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research made misleading and unsubstantiated claims about Gore's home energy bills.
Numerous other print media reports noted the challenge Inhofe posed to Gore -- to "agree to consume no more energy in your residence than the average American household by one year from today" -- but failed to note Gore's response. For instance:
- On March 22, The Washington Post reported that "Inhofe ... criticized Gore for using too much energy in his Tennessee home," but did not include Gore's response that he purchases "green energy" and is renovating his home to incorporate more alternative sources of energy, like solar panels.
- In a March 21 wire report, McClatchy Newspapers also reported Inhofe's question about Gore's home energy consumption and noted only that, in his response, "Gore sought to give a more detailed answer," but "Inhofe cut him off or talked over him."
- Similarly, the Associated Press reported on March 21: "Inhofe then grilled Gore about his personal energy use at his Tennessee mansion and showed the final frame of Gore's film that read, 'Are you ready to change the way you live?' But the article only allowed that "[w]hen Gore tried to respond at length, Inhofe cut him off."
From the March 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
GARRETT: Later in the day, Gore offered similar testimony to a Senate committee, encountering stiffer GOP skepticism about climate change science.
INHOFE: Now, if you put up chart number three, there are literally hundreds of scientists on this chart. All of these scientists disagree with you.
GARRETT: Inhofe used to chair the very committee that sought Gore's testimony, and he grilled Gore on the amount of energy his Tennessee home consumes, said to be many times higher than the national average. The clash led to a dust-up with the new chairman, California's Barbara Boxer.
INHOFE: Why don't we do this?
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): You are asking him questions --
INHOFE: Why don't we do this? At the end, you can have as much time as you want to answer all of the questions.
BOXER: No, that isn't the rule of -- you're not making the rules. You used to when you did this. You don't do this anymore. Elections have consequences.
GARRETT: Senator Inhofe also posed a question to Gore that Gore himself poses at the end of his documentary, quote, "Are you ready to change the way you live?" a reference to Gore's Tennessee compound.
Gore said he didn't have to because he purchases a variety of environmental credits, meaning, though his compound consumes a lot more energy than the average home in America, it's global warming neutral, he said. Brit.
From the March 21 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on global warming:
INHOFE: All right. Now, I'd like to put up the little pledge thing here. I'm going to ask you if you would like to commit here, today. You know how many hundreds of thousands of fans you have out there that would like to follow your lead? And this pledge merely says -- as you can read it up there -- that you're agreeing to consume no more energy in your residence than the average American household by one year from today, not right now, but you've got a whole year to try to do this.
Now, the one thing I'd like to have you not use in response to this question, which is a yes or no question, is the various gimmicks. Now, I have something I want to submit for the record, Madame Chairman, that talks about the effects -- the offsets and the credits are gimmicks used by the wealthy so they don't have to change their lifestyles. This -- and I have an article that is last Sunday's United Kingdom Times, I'd like to add -- to submit for the record at this time.
BOXER: You may.
INHOFE: All right, what's your answer?
GORE: Well, first of all, Senator, thank you so much for your question. I --
INHOFE: Sure. I noticed Tipper didn't say thank you for the question.
GORE: Oh, I'm sure she would, but -- you know, one of the other recommendations that I would have is that we -- is that you also set standards for green energy produced by utilities. And, one reason I say that, in response to what you're saying here, is that that's what we purchase, and we pay more for it because it's still relatively --
GORE: -- uncommon. If I may --
INHOFE: Senator Gore --
GORE: If I could just finish my --
INHOFE: Well, you can't --
BOXER: If you could allow -- you've asked the Senator an important question. He's answering it. Give him a minute or so to answer it.
GORE: We purchase wind energy and other green energy that does not produce carbon dioxide, and that does cost a little more, now, and that is one of the reasons why it costs a little more. We're also in the process of renovating an old home, and I live -- we live not far from where [Sen.] Lamar [R-TN] and [his wife] Honey Alexander do and we --
INHOFE: All right, Senator Gore, you've had so much more time. I'm going to have to have my --
GORE: Can I make one other point because a lot of communities actually have laws preventing the installation of solar photovoltaic cells?
INHOFE: So, I assume the answer's no. Let's go to the next question.
GORE: And, if I could continue --
INHOFE: No, you can't.
GORE: I do believe that there should be a federal provision that overrides any local restrictions.
INHOFE: But, what I'm going to do in the last time, since my time has expired, I'm going to ask you, on your film -- the last frame on your film -- and it's kind of interesting because yesterday, I ran into a parent of a student at school in Maryland that said that her students were, in an elementary school, were watching your movie, under the instructions once every month.
The last frame in that movie was -- would you put that frame up? You're asking and you've asked people all over America, "Are you ready to change your way of life? Are you ready to change the way you live?" I would have to ask you that same question, because we started my term on "Would you take a pledge to do that?" I think the answer to that is no. But in terms of changing the way you live, I think it's very difficult for you to ask other people to do it, unless you are willing to do it. Are you willing to do it?
GORE: We live a carbon neutral life, Senator, and both of my businesses are carbon neutral. We buy green energy. We do not contribute to the problem that I'm joining with others to try to help solve. We pay more for clean energy, and I think that utilities ought to provide more green energy that doesn't produce CO2, and we are in the midst of installing solar panels.
Again, I think that we ought to have a law that says communities and localities ought not to be able to prevent that. I never made that public, by the way. The community where I live, it's a city within a city, I didn't want to -- because I asked them to change it and they said, "We will. It just takes time." So, these kinds of things are what people are going through all over this country: They're buying the new light bulbs; they're putting in more insulation. People are changing. People are changing.
The American people are ready to help solve this problem, but we have to have legislation that takes away the right to pollute without any accountability or without paying a price for it because when we have cap-and-trade, when we have laws that make it -- that allow us to use the market in our favor, then those of us who are part of the solution rather than part of the problem will be able to leverage what we're doing.