Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
You know, before I started researching the global warming debate I had no opinion on Al Gore. I suppose this was largely because I’m a Canadian who didn’t follow American politics closely during the years he served as Vice-President.
My first substantive memory of him involves the hotly contested election in 2000 that led to a recount in Florida and the eventual awarding of the presidency to George W. Bush. I remember Mr. Gore, at the time, delivering a gracious concession speech. Having exhausted all legal avenues, it was the right thing for him to. The decision preserved his own dignity – and that of his country.
Having never belonged to a political party – and fully aware that some of my views align with liberals while others align with conservatives – I consider myself sincerely non-partisan. Lots of people despise Mr. Gore because they’re Republicans and it goes with the territory. I’m not one of them.
But the more I see of this gentleman, the thinner grows my esteem. Rather than using logical or scientific arguments, Mr. Gore frequently smears people who hold opinions that are different from his own. He recently told CBS news:
Some of the largest carbon polluters…try to convince people – as the tobacco industry did years ago on the link between smoking cigarettes and lung disease – that there really isn’t a link – between global warming-pollution and global warming. [bold added]
The CBS website highlighted this tobacco comment by incorporating it into the title of its online report: “Gore: Carbon Polluters Like Big Tobacco.”
One day I’m going to make a list of all the environmentalists who use the tobacco smear. Based on my reading so far, I expect it will be a long one. For now, suffice it to say that it is highly offensive for anyone to equate well-informed, good-faith individuals who have doubts about a theory that predicts what will happen in the future with those who repudiated well-established medical facts. The two scenarios are not scientifically or historically equivalent. To pretend that they are is to value cheap politics over objective reality.
What is really beyond the pale, however, is that such a smear should be wielded by Mr. Gore – whose family grew tobacco, who has boasted about his hands-on involvement in the farming of it, and who – drum roll, please – accepted political donations from the tobacco industry over a ten-year period.
According to the New York Times, in a speech in North Carolina in 1988, Mr. Gore declared:
Throughout most of my life, I’ve raised tobacco…I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I’ve hoed it. I’ve chopped it. I’ve shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it.
This same newspaper article observes that, despite Mr. Gore’s current characterization of tobacco as a great evil, even after his sister died of lung cancer it took several years for his family to walk away from the income they earned from tobacco. In other words, they knew firsthand that it killed people, but they continued to profit from it.
Mr. Gore knew, because he had knelt beside his sister’s bedside, that tobacco led to bad things. Yet six years later he was still accepting campaign donations from “tobacco industry political action committees.”
And this man has the audacity to attempt to link other people – most of whom are unlikely to have come within a league of a tobacco field or to have received one red cent from a tobacco-related source in their lifetimes – with tobacco’s stench?
Does Al Gore truly have no shame?