Perhaps no more devastating review of a more worthy target has yet been penned. Walter Russell Mead on Al Gore:
You can be a leading environmentalist and fail to pay all of your taxes. You can be a leading environmentalist and be unkind to your aged mother. You can be a leading environmentalist and squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle, park in the handicapped spots at the mall or scribble angry marginal notes in library books.
But you cannot be a leading environmentalist who hopes to lead the general public into a long and difficult struggle for sacrifice and fundamental change if your own conduct is so flagrantly inconsistent with the green gospel you profess. If the heart of your message is that the peril of climate change is so imminent and so overwhelming that the entire political and social system of the world must change, now, you cannot fly on private jets. You cannot own multiple mansions. You cannot even become enormously rich investing in companies that will profit if the policies you advocate are put into place.
I am not one of those who thinks him a hypocrite; I think rather that he shares an illusion common amongst the narcissistic glitterati of our time: that politically fashionable virtue cancels private vice. The drug addled Hollywood celeb whose personal life is a long record of broken promises and failed relationships and whose serial bouts with drug and alcohol abuse and revolving door rehab adventures are notorious can redeem all by "standing up" for some exotic, stylish cause. These moral poseurs and dilettantes of virtue are modern versions of those guilt-plagued medieval nobles who built churches and monasteries to 'atone' for their careers of bloodshed, oppression and scandal.
Mr. Gore is sincere, as the fur-fighting actresses are sincere, as so many 'causey' plutocrats and moguls are sincere. It is perhaps also true that the fundraisers who absolve them of their guilt in exchange for the donations and the publicity are at least as sincere as the indulgence sellers in Martin Luther's Germany.
I don't judge, dear reader, and neither should you. May we all find mercy when we stand alone, naked and ashamed before the judgment seat of God.
I judge that Mr. Gore would have been a lot better off had he been charged with hypocrisy. Hypocrites at least believe that they ought to be something they are not. Does someone who so conspicuously consumes resources and expels so much carbon faltus really believe that we must, immediately change our ways? No. What we really believes is that we must, at all costs, keep one Al Gore in the public eye.