Bush v. Gore: the Environmental Rematch

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This time it's about whose house is greener. Guess who wins? This thing has been circulating around blogs and through email, the latter of which is usually a good indication that something in it is inaccurate or misleading, but according to snopes.com it's pretty much on the level. The Texas Bush home is actually extremely energy-conserving, while Al Gore's house in Tennessee is extremely energy-consuming.

It actually doesn't surprise me that Bush's Texas residence is very energy-conserving. He strikes me as having tried several times (unsuccessfully in most of his attempts) to get his party more interested in environmental issues without adopting economically unfeasible plans like Kyoto or doing something that would trickle down as a burden on the average person the way price controls, additional taxes, or further regulations generally do. One might question whether his proposals would be good, but I think he genuinely wanted his energy pill to pass and then to succeed. He just couldn't get enough Republicans in Congress to go for it.

I've been trying to find somewhat favorable ways to think about what this means for Gore. Is it an inconsistency? It seems so. He has the resources to have a pretty energy-efficient house. Is he a hypocrite? Not necessarily. Hypocrisy requires understanding that your lifestyle doesn't accord with what you preach. Maybe he's just got some kind of intellectual disconnect. But I don't think that's the issue. I suspect he's got the same general view that I find common among those who allow government policies to count as The Solution to any problem that individuals, if they would just live a little more responsibly, could do something about collectively. Let some policy absolve your conscience. Don't worry therefore about how you live your life. As long as you support the right policies, you don't need to live your life in a responsible manner. So I think there's a way to make Gore's lifestyle consistent with his moral views, if his assumption is what I'm suggesting. The only problem is that it just makes the view so ridiculously implausible that it seems tantamount to coming up with a bad excuse for not living in a morally decent manner.

(I should note for the record that this is a standard way for some white liberals to appease their conscience on race issues. Support affirmative action, and then you don't have to worry if your daily actions are perpetuating racist narratives and social structures that harm people of less-advantaged groups. This is by far the most common complaint against liberals from the far left. I notice it regularly in the critical race literature. It can be true of conservatives as well, but the people I'm talking about are much more reluctant to concede that conservatives have any decent bone in their body, never mind a conscience, so they focus their criticism on liberals, who they're more optimistic about possibly changing their ways.)

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