I don't want this to sound like Al Gore bashing, but I think the former presidential candidate is wrong about something important.

Gore gave a major speech in which he said President Bush is doing the right thing in the war, that his axis of evil description is correct, and that it may be time to settle the Iraq issue once and for all.

Gore's right about that, and good on him for saying so. But here's where I think he's wrong: It turns out he also said — as I feared he might — that poverty is at the root of the terrorism aimed against us.

As I've said before when a loopy Ted Turner said the same thing... poverty is a problem in the Arab and Muslim worlds, but it's hard to make a case that the Sept. 11 terrorists and those who are plotting even more evil against us, were and are motivated by a sense of economic justice.

Usama bin Laden is almost a billionaire. Mohammed Atta and his boys were from well-to-do Egypt and Saudi Arabia. There wasn't a Palestinian among them.

These guys hate us because they are up to their eyeballs in a religion that believes backwards is forward. They hate us because we want to move ahead, not back to the 13th century.

They also hate us because we are infidels. We don't believe in their religion, and for that we should die. Their religion tells them they must conquer the world. Otherwise, they don't get paradise and virgins.

Poverty has nothing to do with it, except as an excuse.

Gore also tried to link up terrorism to his worries about the environment. Here again, I think he's wrong. He wants us to be more environmentally aware. That's fine... but while we're on the subject of terrorists and loony oil-rich countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia, let's talk about what those guys are doing for the environment?

Why is Al beating us on the head about gas mileage and emission standards and not Saddam Hussein or the house of Saud or, for that matter, Azerbaijan or Nigeria?

Because the basket cases of environmentalism are the suppliers, not the consumers of oil, and it's just too embarrassing for environmentalists to admit how ineffective they are at achieving some change with the real polluters.

All it shows is that the environment has as much to do with terrorism as poverty... which is just about zero.

That's My Word.

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