As I have repeatedly been unable to ignore the following quote from Glenn Reynolds, I’m going to fail to restrain myself once again:

If Gore were less moralistic in his approach — as he gains weight, he’s even starting to look a bit like a younger Jerry Falwell — the charges of hypocrisy would have less bite.

And as I pointed out last time, even if “Gorewell” lost weight, he might still look Haggard!
That’s because of the hypocrisy factor.
In most day-to-day situations where we are supposed to be responsible but fall short of what we should do, a little “hypocrisy” doesn’t matter. For example, as I discussed yesterday, my dog Coco is in heat, and it is my responsibility to control her genitalia in such a manner that nothing untoward happens. But if I didn’t live up to my responsibility, and Coco got knocked up by the fox who’s after her, would that mean that I shouldn’t then be able to urge other people to control their animals and their animals’ genitalia?
This would seem like an easy question, but it’s clouded by public perceptions about what we call “hypocrisy.”
I don’t see why it would be hypocritical for a drug user to advise people not to use drugs. Frankly, I think he would have more, not less, credibility than someone who had never used drugs.
I can remember when William Talman (who played Hamilton Burger, the DA in Perry Mason) was dying of cancer he made a public service ad warning people not to smoke as he had. The idea that this would constitute “hypocrisy” is absurd on its face.
Even today, if a well-known anti-cigarette crusader were discovered to be hooked on cigarettes, I don’t think it would hurt his credibility, nor would he be accused of hypocrisy. But on the other hand, if the head of an “Ex-Gay” ministry were busted in a mens room for soliciting an undercover officer or photographed doing something compromising in a gay bar, he’d be laughed out of the “Ex Gay” business.
What’s the difference? Is it that there aren’t any militant smokers who run around “outing” furtive closeted cigarette puffers? Or is it that cigarette smoking does not generate moral indignation, but gayness does? No, that can’t be it, because being gay is good, and smoking cigarettes is bad. Maybe neither one is a moral issue. No, that can’t be right either, because lots of people on both sides believe very passionately that morality is involved.
While I’ve complained about the conflation of morality with health, there’s a lot of it going on anyway. The anti-gay activists like to compare homosexuality to smoking, but I’ve examined the comparison carefully, and it just doesn’t withstand logical analysis. Whether anti-gay activists like it or not, cigarettes are still seen almost solely as a health issue and the only morality involved has to do with where people should be allowed to smoke.
Like it or not, the moral issues draw the hypocrisy charge, not the health issues.
That’s why the preachy-scoldy Al Gore, caught in his wildly gluttonous energy use, has set himself up for the charge of hypocrisy. He’s like an anti-gay fundamentalist minister caught in bed with a young male prostitute. The thing is, neither Gore nor the minister are prohibited from continuing to preach against the respective ills they condemn. The problem is that they have damaged their credibility, because let’s face it, if you don’t practice what you preach, people who find that out are just not going to take your preaching as seriously as they would if you did — unless you admit that you fell short, and (preferably after admission into some sort of program) you solemnly promise not to do it again. Obviously, it is not in the interest of preachers to make such damning admissions.
Not so fast.
I just realized that I have made yet another unfair comparison. Al Gore is really not like the anti-gay preacher caught with the young man; he’s worse. That’s because those who preach against sins of the flesh recognize that human weakness is involved, and they concede that to those who have such a sinful attraction, it can be irresistible.
While some (including President Bush) have referred to our oil use as an “addiction,” I don’t think most reasonable people believe that oil consumption is an addiction in the ordinary sense of the word, and that he used the term as political hyperbole. If you doubt me, imagine what would happen if Al Gore tried to claim that he used too much energy because he was “addicted” to it. Stand-up comedians would be making jokes about admitting him into treatment centers run by Greenpeace, and he’d never live it down. He’s therefore stuck holding the hypocrisy bag. And worse yet, if his own rhetoric is to be believed, he’s guilty of heating up the planet. The closeted gay minister has heated up nothing except his angry congregation, and hell, unlike Gorewell’s “carbon offsets,” there’s simply no such such thing as a homo offset that you can buy — and I doubt there ever will be. (Not to complicate things unduly, but there actually is such a thing as a homo offset. But they’re very technical things, and not intended for misbehaving preachers.)
Meanwhile, of course, the fact of Bush’s eco-friendlier home gets almost no media play. If the roles were reversed, imagine the outcry. Actually, Don Surber (via Glenn Reynolds) imagines it pretty well:

If Al Gore were a Republican, the story of his consuming 20 times the national average while lecturing the rest of us on cutting back on our energy use would be front page news from coast-to-coast. Late-nite comedians would have a field day. The editorial pages would puff up about Republican hypocrisy.

They certainly would. Gore has really been asking for this and the blogs are having a field day at giving it to him. Glenn also links Creative Destruction:

Those policy preferences – limit carbon, mandate the use of certain technologies, restrict land use, etc. – all seem to entail increasing governmental control over the economy. Mr. Gore’s actual motivation would appear to a fair-minded observer to be a desire to increase government power in the economic sphere – and environmental concern over global climate change is simply the convenient rhetorical tool to flog in the service of that agenda.
Mr. Gore is of course free to advocate for whatever policies he wishes. However, those of us who would bear the burden of his policies are also entitled – in our mindlessly swarming way – to think that his rhetorical flourishes are so much organically-composted, locally-grown, carbon-neutral BS.

Not only is that great, but it touches on one of my pet Gore peeves, which is….
Sorry, there, but “pet Gore peeves” slowed me down for a second, because it just Doesn’t. Look. Right. It’s more than a pet Gore peeve actually, because it’s a pet peeve I have with the whole global warming mindset and I don’t think it’s getting enough attention in the MSM.
The issue, simply, is human meat consumption — said by the official data to be the biggest greenhouse gas culprit of them all. That this is being downplayed makes me think Creative Destruction is right that “the desire is to increase government power in the economic sphere,” and that they’re using whatever rhetorical tools are most convenient. As I said, if this were really the emergency it is claimed to be, it would be easier (and less damaging to the overall economy) to curtail meat production than to prevent people from consuming oil. The former is not a necessity, but the latter is. I think that the reason meat is downplayed as an issue is because oil is a more convenient scapegoat. People just love to hate big oil. But Americans simply aren’t ashamed to eat meat; the morality against meat-eating is too new, and few Americans buy into it. The environmental movement, IMO, lives in deadly fear of looking ridiculous. And if they demanded that Americans stop eating meat, Americans would think they were ridiculous. The irony is that curtailing meat production is a sensible demand, if their thesis is valid, which I don’t think it is.
Once again, the failure to scold Americans properly about their meat consumption makes me think (to quote Creative Destruction again) that they’re just seeking a “convenient rhetorical tool,” and that the real goal is control over the economy. And if you want to control the economy, curtailing meat production is not the way to do it — even if it would save the planet according to your precious theory.
I keep complaining that this stuff is newly manufactured morality, because it is.
It’s always a little tough to feel sorry for people who fail to live up to the morality they claim to uphold. In the case of someone who has fails to live up to the morality he has manufactured, it’s even tougher.
UPDATE: For trangressors of manufactured eco-morality, IowaHawk offers manufactured (if costly) eco-repentance! (Via Glenn Reynolds.)
A real eco offset, not an eco homo offset!
MORE: Ann Coulter weighs in on Global Warming’s food aspects with “Let Them Eat Tofu.” (I have to say, for a Deadhead, she writes pretty well.)
UPDATE: Thank you Glenn Reynolds, for the link, and welcome all. New readers, please feel free to comment whether you agree or disagree. (No sign-in necessary here.)
UPDATE (03/04/07): Donald Sensing (my thanks for the link!) comes to Al Gore’s defense (at least partially), noting that Gore lives in a older area where the houses are inherently not energy efficient:

Belle Meade is the “old money” section of Nashville, dating back to at least the 1920s and quite likely to the turn of the 20th century. Gore’s house, at 10K sq. ft., is no tiny thing, but it’s not exceptional in Belle Meade by any means. See the satellite photo of his house. These houses are not energy efficient as first designed and built, though I assume that they have been upgraded since. But geothermal heating and cooling, like President Bush uses in Crawford, is out of the question in Nashville. The whole region sits on limestone that goes down miles. More here.
I’m not sure what Al Gore could do to become greener in his home than he says he is – although it’s fair to ask what’s taking him so long. I’m willing to bet that his electrical usage is not far out of line with his neighbors. It also should be pointed out that Gore runs his business – and it’s a big business, obviously – out of his house (or so his spokeperson claims), and that should be factored in.
So I think we all should take a chill pill here. There’s less than meets the eye about all this. The only item that Gore’s defense offers that bothers me is the carbon offsetting claim, since it forms a crutch to prop up the profligacy of energy the Gore house uses. Even so, another correspondent to Bruce Thompson thinks it is valid, and explains why. Sure, Gore could use a big dollop of humility, but couldn’t we all . . .

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)
I wouldn’t have a problem with Gore if he wasn’t being such a damn scold. While I’m sure Sensing is right that there’s not much to do to improve energy efficiency in older luxury homes in Belle Mead, if Gore wants to talk the way he does (about how this is “the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced“), then why dosn’t he set an example for the rest of us peons he wants to scold, and simply move? (I think he could afford it.)
I understand and appreciate Donald Sensing’s argument, but I still think this is pretty basic stuff. If you’re going to take issue with me for burning gas in my Toyota, and I see that you’re driving an Oldsmobile Toronado or a Hummer, don’t expect me to take you seriously. (And, I guess, depending on the volume of your scolding, it might also be a good idea to think about letting go of the Rolls Royce too. Oh the pain!)
If you’re against waste, don’t waste. And if you do waste, don’t waste my time scolding me.
(HT, M. Simon.)