As you know, it pains me to criticize government officials. (Except of course for Arnold Chacon, the American Charge d'affaires for Andorra - that bastard!) But it must be said that Gore and Pelosi are each highly deserving of the Loon of the Year title. Their specific comments, and pattern of commentary over the years, are indisputably Loony. They make us cringe, they make us wince. And they reveal a stark reflection of the kind of people we have put in positions of enormous power in this country. It is embarrassing and dispiriting. Yet we have no one to blame but ourselves. Because YOU America voted for them (directly or indirectly).
Perhaps a small measure of amends can be realized by voting for one of them again as 2009 Loon of the Year. They are both extremely deserving candidates and it's too bad they can't both win. But that's not the way democracy works (at least outside of Andorra) and it's time to choose.
To help understand the merits of their respective Loon cases below are the transcripts of their qualifying comments.
First, Nancy Pelosi from back in January. She was interviewed by ABC News's George Stephanopoulos on the details of the $787 billion dollar "stimulus package". As you may recall, its intent was to stimulate the economy and decrease unemployment. It proved to have innumerable pork-laden amendments and special interest group provisions whose connection to the economy and jobs were specious at best. One of the more curious additions was hundreds of millions of dollars for contraception services. How does that stimulate the economy? Let's go to the tape:
George Stephanopoulos: ... hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?
Nancy Pelosi: Well, the, the family planning services reduce cost. It reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crisis now and part of it, what we do for children's health or education and some of those elements that are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those initiatives you mentioned, the contraception will reduce costs to the state. And to the Federal government too.
Stephanopoulos: So no apologies for that?
Pelosi: No apologies, no. We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.
In short, children, and human beings in general, are a burden on society. Therefore, when they conflict with other goals of the state, they must be sacrificed. In this case, the state is spending too much to educate and provide health care for them, so we need fewer of them. This will be accomplished by the state intervening to provide incentives and a means to stop having children. An interesting perspective from a self-described "ardent, practicing Catholic".
You know, a belief system like this *almost* makes you think it's a bad idea to put the state in charge of educating and providing health care for your children. Or in charge of anyone for that matter.
Interesting to note that Pelosi says that "we" have to deal with the consequences. Yet she's already had her five kids and I don't believe is on track for any more. I recall the wise words of indigenous American hero, Tonto: What do you mean by 'we" kimosabe.
Also of note, back in January Nancy was so concerned about costs that she was advocating bringing fewer people into the public system. And then a few months later with so-called health care reform, she was advocating bringing in tens of millions more people to, among other reasons, hold down costs.
How to explain that apparent contradiction? Well, looniness would be one way.
Now onto candidate two, Al Gore. It has been a big year for Global Warming. Except for the chilly readings on the thermometer, that is. Other than that non-relevant data, the heat to reorganize our economy and give government control of our use of carbon was at an all time high. The House of Representatives passed a cap-and-trade bill that Obama is dying to sign (if the Senate will ever let him). And the world community (including the Obama Administration) came to an oral agreement that tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars need to be transferred annually to third world governments for the harm we've done to them with our wicked carbon ways.
Arguably, the most important figure in bringing these developments to reality has been Al Gore. His tireless, and highly profitable, advocacy of the dubious man-made global warming disaster hypothesis has increased public awareness and stimulated demand for these potentially ruinous policies more than anything else. He's the public face of expertise on the science of global warming. Which makes comments like this, from an interview on the Tonight Show in November, all the more disturbing:
Conan O'Brien: Can you tell me is this a viable solution, geothermal?
Al Gore: It definitely is and it's a relatively new one. People think about geothermal energy, when they think about it at all, in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places. But two kilometers or so down, in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, because the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees. And the crust of the earth is hot. And if you go down far enough, you can get so much heat, it can be used to generate steam and make electricity. And they say that here in the United States, we have a 35,000 year supply of energy, just from geothermal. And they've now figured out how to do the drilling with the new drill bits that don't melt in that heat.
In reality, the interior of the Earth is cooler than Al Gore's estimation by a factor of a few hundred times. As summarized by John Derbyshire:
The geothermal gradient is usually quoted as 25-50 degrees Celsius per mile of depth in normal terrain (not, e.g., in the crater of Kilauea). Two kilometers down, therefore, (that's a mile and a quarter if you're not as science-y as Al) you'll have an average gain of 30-60 degrees -- exploitable for things like home heating, though not hot enough to make a nice pot of tea. The temperature at the earth's core, 4,000 miles down, is usually quoted as 5,000 degrees Celsius, though these guys claim it's much less, while some contrarian geophysicists have posted claims up to 9,000 degrees. The temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 6,000 degrees Celsius, while at the center, where nuclear fusion is going on big time, things get up over 10 million degrees.
Several hundred degrees, several thousand degrees, several million degrees -what's the difference? For a career politician used to spending money like Gore, the difference is a rounding error.
Perhaps this was just a slip of the tongue by Gore. He meant thousands, said millions. In that case, it probably doesn't merit recognition as Loon of the Year. However, it is consistent with a pattern by Gore of constantly mischaracterizing science and the facts of an argument to fit his personal or political goals. Examples include recent statements about the polar ice caps disappearing in five years and the age and significance of the Climate Gate memos all the way to his book An Inconvenient Truth and its numerous fallacies and errors.
In a sense, Gore's Tonight Show gaffe this year is representative of a lifetime achievement in looniness and therefore should receive serious consideration.
Please record your vote below. Clicking on the names brings up the actual audio of the statements. Polls open through Friday night. Winner to be announced this Saturday during the Northern Alliance Radio Network's First Team Broadcast. Good luck to them both!