Saturday, July 21, 2007

Can Al Gore catch a break?

Earlier this week I read the news that endangered Chilean sea bass was served at the wedding of Al Gore's daughter. Here's the initial story. The article is titled "Gore's message loses bite" and opens with the tag: ONLY one week after Live Earth, Al Gore's green credentials slipped while hosting his daughter's wedding in Beverly Hills.

If you do a Google search for Gore and sea bass you'll see a cacaphony of voices saying that Gore is a hypocrite, he's got no environmental credibility, this shows global warming is a fraud, etc.

I figured that if I waited a week or so information would come out showing that something was missing from the initial story. I also considered the possibility that Gore didn't micro-manage every aspect of his daughter's wedding or, possibly, didn't know the status of Chilean sea bass.

So what do you know, Gore isn't a hypocrite.

The night before the wedding, People magazine reported, the Gores were at a dinner for 75 at the nearby Crustacean restaurant where a six-course tasting menu included Chilean sea bass - also known as Patagonian toothfish.

The reaction was swift: writing in in the Australian Daily Telegraph, Rebecca Keeble of Humane Society International, a conservation pressure group, complained of the danger to the species from "from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities".

She noted that "more than 50 per cent of toothfish traded is illegally caught, and includes juveniles vital to the ongoing toothfish population". She called on the US government to help crack down on illegal fishing by sanctioning Spain for allowing its nationals to fish illegally for the species in conservation areas.

And in the meantime, she acidly suggested, "Al Gore could choose something else to eat". Her attack on the former vice-president, and his implied hypocrisy, were rapidly picked up by bloggers around the world.

But the fish enjoyed by the Gores were not endangered or illegally caught.

Rather, the restaurant later confirmed, they had come from one of the world's few well-managed, sustainable populations of toothfish, and caught and documented in compliance with Marine Stewardship Council regulations. The Gores' spokesman, Kalee Kreider, admitted that the fish has been on the menu, but said: "The Gores absolutely agree with this humane society and the rest of the environmental community about illegally caught Chilean sea bass."
It turns out the fish served at his daughter's wedding was from Whole Foods, the company that Jonah Goldberg argues is part of the liberal tradition of fascism (specifically, eco/environmental-fascism) in his upcoming book (no kidding, you can't make this stuff up).

But here's the kicker. The truth won't matter. That Gore is a hypocrite has become ingrained in the minds of our culture thanks in part to the mainstream media and in large part to the noise machine. The damage is done, and this will become part of the standard conservative movement canon about Al Gore.

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