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Carbon Hog Sean Hannity's Pathetic Attempt to Smear Al Gore

Reported by Marie Therese - February 20, 2007 -

On Sunday's edition of Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity rolled out a FOX News "investigation" that focused on former Vice President Al Gore's role as the leading spokesman for reducing global warming. Naturally, this was nothing more than a "hit piece" on Gore, albeit one that was so sophomoric that it bordered on comedy. The production values were very low, featuring the look one expects from an infomercial selling the latest pulp-ficton spy novel, right down to an insipid canned music track. As for the "content" of the report, suffice it to say it was pure propaganda. (With video.)

Hannity set the stage for his attack on Gore during his "State of America" segment, which is designed as a sort of Hannitized version of Gibson's miserable "My Word", O'Reilly's overwrought "Talking Points Memo" and Cavuto's cloying, unctuous "Common Sense".

After reporting about the record-breaking cold snaps that have hit the United States, Hannity segued into last week's favorite right-wing enviromental "joke", stating: "At the same time, global warming fear-mongers, well, they seem to be everywhere, even as more and more scientists come forward with skepticism about the causes of climate change while environmental extremists in Washington, they continue to scare the American people." He then delivered the standard punch line: "It is, therefore, the irony of ironies that a House [of Representatives] hearing on the impact of climate change, well, that had to be postponed this past week because of a nasty winter storm in Washington, D. C. And the science of climate change is anything but clear."

Comment: Notice how Hannity used an old propaganda trick here. He mentioned the words "global warming" once, then later changed the term to "climate change". In logic, the set labeled "climate change" contains the set "global warming". The two terms are not tautological. A House hearing on "climate change" could easily discuss all phases of climate change, not just global warming. However, Hannity needed his cheap shot, so he conflated the two terms to arrive at his "irony of ironies" comment. As for the cold weather, there is one theory that says the north America could experience a cooling effect as the warming oceans shut down the thermohaline circulation.

If this weren't national TV and if Hannity didn't have such a loyal following of willing dupes, I wouldn't even have reported on this non-story. However, since there are some people who think Hannity actually knows what he's talking about, it becomes necessary to debunk the content of his "investigation".

Comment: Hannity promised that, after watching his report, the audience would see that "when it comes to practicing what ya' preach - Al Gore? He's full of hot air." I believe what you'll see a smear merchant masquerading as an educated commentator.

After stating, correctly, that "Gore has preached the virtues of being 'carbon neutral', a phrase that has become so much a part of the public vernacular in the last year that the New Oxford American Dictionary selected it as the Word of the Year for 2006," Hannity went on to explain the term "carbon neutral". He did a decent job of it and in fact directed his viewers to Gore's Carbon Calculator, a site where you can figure out what your own personal carbon imprint is.

Hannity stated that his report would uncover that Al Gore and his Hollywood liberal friends have a "dirty little secret", that being that they have all flown on private planes, which have a far greater carbon impact than commercial airliners.

Hannity used records of Gore's 16 private jet flights during the 1999-2000 campaign season, claiming that those trips show the former Vice President to be a hypocrite. In a disclaimer later in the piece, Hannity admitted that Gore's office responded that the former Vice President had purchased carbon offsets for the trips, thereby maintaining the carbon neutrality of the jet fuel consumption. Hannity did not let this disclaimer deter him from making all kinds of specious linkages, false analogies and non sequiturs in his report.

For example, he gave statistical information about the carbon imprint of commercial vs private jets, showing that flying in a private jet does four times the carbon emission damage than flying in a commercial jet. Hannity then conflated two terms "carbon imprint" and "carbon neutrality", once again implying that these terms are interchangeable when they are not, stating "So if you were worried about your quote-unquote 'carbon footprint' on the environment and if you're concerned about carbon neutrality, the last you should be doing is flying on private jets. Sit in coach. You might save a polar bear!"

Hannity then jumped to a blanket condemnation of the "environmental elite", claiming that fifty of them flew into the Davos Climate Change Conference in jets owned and operated by NetJets Europe, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathway.

Although Hannity cited Reuters as the source of this story, he didn't bother to mention the Buffet connection to NetJets, nor did he tell his audience that the CEO of NetJets was quoted in the story as saying that, in response to pressure from enivronmental groups, NetJets Europe is working on a remedy to help offset its carbon emissions, which the company hopes to present within six months, including carbon trading or a green investment.

Just for fun and because he despises the Kennedys, Hannity included a video clip of his 2003 interview with environmentalist extraordinaire Robert Kennedy Jr. in which Hannity accused Kennedy of the same hypocritical use of private jets. By way of being "fair and balanced", check out this Media Matters rundown of Mr. Hannity's voracious appetite for fossil fuels! Of course, Sean "Common Man" Hannity would argue that he doesn't believe in global warming and that's why it's OK that he is a gas-guzzling energy hog.*

Hannity then spun off into the realm of the ridiculous as he bashed Gore for flying in - are you ready? - Air Force Two, the Vice-President's official airplane! Duh! When was the last time a either a President or Vice-President flew commerical while still in office? Gimme a break! The Secret Service would never have permitted it!

As for the 16 private jet flights that the Vice-President used in that same time period, Gore's office issued this statement to Think Progress in response to the Hannity smear:

– Gore lives a strict carbon-neutral lifestyle both in his work and private life. That means he tries to reduce his emissions as much as possible, and then purchases carbon offsets for the remaining emissions.

– In his private life, Gore tries to reduce his emissions as much as possible. He drives a hybrid, flies commercially whenever he can, and purchases green power. In the few instances where work has demanded that he travel privately, he purchases carbon offsets for the emissions."

Hannity addressed the Think Progress post at the end of his smear piece. This was clearly added at the last minute in order to minimize the impact of the Gore disclaimer, which, of course, made Hannity's whole report look like the piece of tabloid garbage it actually was!

Hannity then was joined by David Limbaugh, FOX News contributor Laura Schwartz and Jane Fleming of Young Democrats of America to further discuss Al Gore's alleged hypocrisy. Both women valiantly defended Gore and Fleming - who is always right there with facts and figures - actually scored some good points. When the women reminded Hannity that Gore purchases offsets to make up for his carbon use, Hannity sneered at the whole idea and returned to his mantra for the night that Al Gore should never fly in private planes again, unless it's a matter of national security.

At one point Jane Fleming - my heroine - caught David LImbaugh in a deliberate lie. He claimed that Gore was a hypocrite because he did not use green power to run his two houses and she shot back telling him that wasn't true, that Gore does use green power for his houses. Realizing that he'd been trounced, Limbaugh desperately tried a new tactic

LIMBAUGH: "He needed to stop - uh - having zinc mining on his property, which he didn't stop, but which they stopped it in 2003 only because they quit mining and this zinc was going into the river. This guy really ... And - but - but - the worst thing about Al Gore was, if he's so - on this issue - if he's so serious about it, why was he silent about it during his eight years as VP and why didn't he make it a campaign issue 2000 - the 2000 Presidential election?"

Hannity's Smear:

Panel discussion:

* Changed to read "gas-guzzling energy hog" on 2-20-07 at 1:23 PM EST. - MT