Is Al Gore as Green as He Claims to Be?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," February 27, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: It is the "Big Outrage": Why don't you practice what you preach? That is my big question to Al Gore.

The former presidential candidate and environmentalist keeps pushing and pushing for everybody to jump on his bandwagon, but in his global warming crusade he does not actually play by his own rules.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: It is not as hard as you might think. We have a long way to go, but all of us can do something in our own lives to make a difference.


GIBSON: Well, what is Al Gore doing personally to make a difference? It turns out he talks a lot. Gore's Tennessee mansion has now been reported to use more electricity every month than the average American household does in an entire year. Al Gore has plenty of cash, but instead of cutting back on his energy he is using his greenbacks to buy energy credits. He can afford to be green if green means spending green.

Is Al Gore an environmental fraud? With me now is Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the group that put together this new report on Gore's energy consumption.

So Drew, what is it that Gore's massive house down there in Nashville actually uses?

DREW JOHNSON, TENNESSEE CENTER FOR POLICY RESEARCH: Well, the average American uses about 11,000 kilowatt hours of energy over the year. Gore's mansion here in Nashville, which is one of three or four homes he has, used 221,000 kilowatt hours last year. So we're talking 20 times what you and I use at home.

GIBSON: He of course says that he is doing everything he can to bring down the energy used in that house, to be totally green about it, and he buys energy credits. But what does all that mean?

JOHNSON: When it comes down to it, when you are using 20 times more electricity than the average American, it is hard to justify your role, first of all, as a leader in this environmental movement. But second of all, that you are walking the walk. Obviously he is big on talking the talk, and he is just not getting it done at his own home.

As far as the vouchers and the carbon credits and things like that, it seems like a way to buy his way out of his own guilt, perhaps. You have a man who flies around the world on private jets and has $30,000 electric bills and he is telling you and I what kind of light bulb to have in our bathrooms. It is hypocrisy plain and simple.

GIBSON: I guess you answer my question for me, Drew. Let me put it on the screen: Al Gore, energy guzzler — Mr. Green is trying, or says he is — OMG, what a hypocrite! You think he is a hypocrite here?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. If you're going to tell people to cut off their appliances, to buy low-energy washers and dryers and refrigerators and then you go out and you have $30,000 in electric bills, and this is a man who has a heated pool, who has natural gas lanterns lining the driveway of this home, so this is a guy who just simply, when it comes down to the integrity of practicing what you preach, he does not get it done.

GIBSON: Is there an explanation here, Drew, that we are overlooking? I mean, is he doing something to offset this energy use that does constitute as truly green that you and I are not discussing?

JOHNSON: Not that I can see. When you are using — literally he uses twice as much energy in a month — twice more energy in a month than the average American uses in a year, so it is hard to justify that kind of energy usage.

Yeah, he has got a huge house. And yeah I am sure he's got some things in there that probably take a lot of energy, but frankly, we're talking about someone who uses all 20 times more energy than you and I who goes around and tells us how we should live our lives. It is ridiculous.

GIBSON: All right. Drew, thanks very much. Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. Appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thanks, John.

GIBSON: Al Gore is now responding to charges that his house uses way too much energy. We called Gore's people to appear on the show and they suggested our next guest, Laura Schwartz, a FOX News political analyst and a Democratic strategist.

So Laura, let me put this quote up. This is from the Al Gore people. This is their statement about all this:

"What former Vice President Gore and his family do, in addition to their 30-year effort to try to solve the climate crisis, is to calculate their carbon footprint, take steps to reduce the emissions they can and then offset the rest. These are the steps to living a carbon-neutral life."

OK, that is what he says. But how could anybody who claims to be Mr. Global Warming justify using 20 times what the average American uses?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: John, this would be a big story if this guy was caught on tape walking through a beautiful green park tossing an empty Coke can on a ground. This is an energy issue that he uses a lot of it at his home, absolutely. And like they said at the Gore office, he buys carbon offsets, and by the way, all of the energy is green power. The natural gas, of course, you cannot purchase green power so they purchase offsets.

But this carbon footprint, his home, as they put it, is his office for he and his wife, he's got four children, grandchildren.

GIBSON: What is a carbon offset, and what does that mean to me or you as a normal person?

SCHWARTZ: I will tell you, because it is a new thing I heard about recently after I saw the movie. It is a whole carbon-neutral lifestyle. It has become very trendy, which means you are going to limit your emissions as much as possible. You are going to change your light bulbs to fluorescent, you're going to wrap your water heater in insulation. Things that you can do and afford.

Now, for those emissions you cannot reduce, like when you are forced to get on a plane and fly, like he does commercially and sometimes privately because education is the key to this and you have to travel to educate. But you take whatever those emissions that you can't avoid and you purchase carbon offsets per how much emissions you burn, so you purchase solar energy, renewable energy, aluminum recycling, and that brings your environmental emissions context to zero.

GIBSON: Laura Schwartz, speaking on behalf of the Gore folks today. Laura, I am going to look this up and see if I can understand what you just told me.

SCHWARTZ: Hey, I had to. But it's all good. Thank you, John.

GIBSON: Thanks a lot, Laura.

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