Scalise, Sleaze, and the Nefarious Al Gore

Al Gore was on the Hill to endorse the House climate bill at an Energy and Commerce hearing. He was armed as always with the latest science, opening by announcing that new data shows the Artic ice cap may be about to completely disappear “if nothing is done to curb emissions of greenhouse gas pollution. For most of the last 3 million years, it has covered an area the size of the lower 48 states.”

Republicans, no longer able to argue with Gore on the merits — even the New York Times revealed that an association of Big Polluters buried its own scientific report affirming man-made global warming fourteen years ago — desperately tried to cast aspersions on the Nobel Peace Prize-winning messenger.

“I think it’s really important that no suspicion or shadow fall on the foremost advocates of climate change legislation,” Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn told her fellow Tennessean. “So I wanted to give you the opportunity to kind of clear the air about your motives….” (see 2:38:45 of webcast)

Blackburn proceeded to ask Gore if he knew of “a capital firm called Kleiner Perkins”, and feigned surprise when the Vice President called her bluff and said with a chuckle that he is a partner. She noted that the firm had invested $1 billion in 40 companies that would benefit from cap-and-trade, and asked Gore whether he would “personally benefit” from the legislation.

Gore reassured her that all profits he receives from investments in a clean economy, his book, the documentary — all go into his non-profit Alliance for Climate Protection to educate on this issue. “And Congresswoman, if you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don’t know me,” he said.

“No sir, I’m not making accusations,” she said, as — to her dismay — an audience that knew better laughed. “I’m asking questions….”

But it was Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise who honed in on a stunning conspiracy. (see 2:08:45) It seems Gore met with former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay in the White House back in his VP Days. Scalise charged that Gore “knew him well enough to help devise this trading scheme”, and he accused Gore of having “interests with Goldman Sachs” (which Gore denied). Undeterred, Scalise defended his thesis: “When you see the types of people involved in wanting to set up this kind of scheme you can see why so many of us are concerned about turning our energy economy over to a scheme that was devised by companies like Enron and some of these Wall Street firms….”

Yes, Steve. We can see why so many of you are concerned. If there’s one thing Republicans have proven time and again it’s that you are determined to use government to keep our economy scheme-free. Thank goodness you are there to protect us from the nefarious Al Gore.