Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gore Cigarettes NewsMax Drudge Limbaugh Bullshit

A few days ago NewsMax went with a story making the fantastic claim that Al Gore had addressed the United Nations, and that he had told them that cigarette smoking is a significant contributor to global warming. (my earlier post)

The clear but false implication in the writing, and the one picked up and transmitted by the likes of Drudge, Rush and a whole shitload of similarly-minded people, was that the smoke from cigarettes was the significant contributor to global warming.

There is no way in hell that Gore meant any such thing.

The thing that amazes me is how fast and how far this story spread, how uncritically it is received, and how brazenly it was spread by the puppeteers.

Drudge picked up the bullshit from NewsMax, apparently, and for two or three days had a link prominently displayed on the left hand side of his page. You'd click on that link and be taken to a page with a few paragraphs repeating the ridiculous assertion about Gore's talk to the UN, and breathlessly baiting the reader with the final line, "Developing...".

That there was noting to develop, that the whole thing was a smearing propaganda play, and that the likes of NewsMax, Drudge and Rush were in the thick of it is one thing. What really surprised me was the silence from the other side.

Obviously, it's not possible to read everything, but by using search engines you can try to find things. There just wasn't anything out there countering this onslaught of bullshit. There was a forum somewhere in which the participants expressed disbelief and discussed a few things that Gore might have actually been talking about, such as soil disturbance or the overlap among prominent smoking cancer and global warming denialists, but essentially there was nothing out there responding to the nonsense. It was unopposed.

Why was that? I suppose one possibility is that smarter people than me have concluded that this sort of thing is just a large-scale analog to newsroom trolling, best left unanswered. Maybe the smarter ones recognize the whole episode as something designed by the right to help keep control of political discourse, with a response simply furthering the right's aim.

I don't know. What I'm left with, though, is a deepened disrespect for dittohead puppeteers and political dirty tricksters. I can't say much for people's uncritical reactions to the thing, either.

Oh well, I guess we need cannon fodder.


Anonymous said...

If you could not find the quotes or evidence to counter or refute the right wing wacko claims, then how do you justify your position that they weren't true?

Don't get me wrong, wingnuts on both sides are wacko, but in the absence of a direct quote, how can anyone form an opinion of what was or was not said-including you? You certainly seemed to have formed the opinion that Al Gore did not makle such statements.

Think with your brain, not your emotions.

Steve said...

Fair enough, and I certainly agree with your final line.

The implicit claim (that the smoke from cigarettes is a significant contributor to global warming) is so outlandish, and is so inconsistent with the science Gore is credited with having a pretty good grasp of, that it is so unlikely as to be unbelievable.

I suppose Gore could have gotten drunk and flubbed his lines, or he might have told a joke along those lines. More likely by far, though, is that he meant something entirely different from what NewsMaxDrudgeLimbaugh lampooned him for.

Someone will protest that I'm abusing NewsMaxDrudgeLimbaugh by making explicit their implication, but the implication was clearly that Gore was referring to the smoke from cigarettes. Whatever Gore's actual words, in context, this was a smear.

If it turns out that Gore actually meant what was implied, then I'll print out this post and eat it, and I'll put a video of myself doing so on YouTube for all to see.

jj mollo said...

I missed this whole thing. Thanks for bringing it up Steve.

I don't think it's ridiculous to imagine that he said something similar to these words. Gore is a politician with a great deal of imagination. That is a rare combination. Ability to see what can't be seen is a necessary skill for understanding the results of Science. Gore has it, thank God. Unfortunately, there is, at least in his case, a down side to imagination. He occasionally uses extravagant metaphors and hyperbole to get his message across. Thick-headed reactionaries respond to what he says rather than what he means. Partisans also use dirty tricks and have every intent on nailing him to the particulars of his message while pooh-poohing the thrust of it. For them, the possibility of Global Warming is less important than the political importance of making this particular man look bad. Who cares if the world dissolves into chaos and poverty as long as Gore isn't running it.

Whether he actually said it or not, I think it is possible to advocate for the correctness of such an alleged remark. Cigarettes are not merely sticks of paper and tobacco. There is a process which produces them and a consequence to using them. It may well be that the process of growing tobacco, using pesticides and fertilizer, curing the leaves, manufacturing and shipping the end product, produces significant net quantities of greenhouse gases, even methane -- I don't know. The time spent away from the job by hundreds of millions of smokers, the resulting inefficiencies and related accidents, the need to improve ventilation, the efficiency impact of illness among competent workers, and the increased cost of medical care lead to excess consumption, unnecessary production, inefficient use of the means of production, particularly energy goods. Tobacco is an unnecessary consumable, that has disastrous social effects. It is entirely possible that it is somehow connected in at least a small way to Global Warming.

Steve said...

Sure, but a small way, and only if you're looking at the whole enterprise as opposed to the smoke Gore was reported to have claimed.

I think it's a mistake to bring up the health and other harms of cigarettes in the context of this NewsMaxDrudgeLimbaugh smear. The smear was pointed, so I tend to think a response should be pointed, too. But what do I know? My betters seem to think silence is the best resonse.