It takes a lot to make my dander rise. A man of eupeptic disposition, I find in life occasion for vastly more amusement than irritation. Not for me the dungeon of dudgeon. My rose-colored lenses are fixed on the bright side. The cup is half-full and, amazingly runneth over too.
But the Talmud says even God expresses rage for a split-second each day. I am entitled to this one moment, then: my blood is currently at what the spaghetti box calls a “rapid boil.” So, as the prophet says, “I will speak and it will becalm me.” The gentleman whose preposterous utterances have catalyzed my apoplexy is none other than Albert Arnold Gore Jr., late of Blair House. The man is an invidious, overweening, condescending, pompous, officious, imperious, supercilious… but perhaps I should start at the beginning.
There is a fine first-term Congressman in the state of Washington (8th District) named Dave Reichert, who is struggling somewhat in his bid for reelection. To an extent this is an almost inevitable result of the circumstances of his election in 2004. He breezed through that race because voters knew his name from the news long before he was a candidate. He was a local hero, the cop who caught the Green River Killer in 2003.
The killer, Gary Ridgway, was responsible for at least 48 murders of women over a period of more than twenty years. He had escaped detection for a number of reasons. One, he held down the same job for all those years and never missed time from work. Two, his job was at a car-painting garage, so he could repaint his truck frequently to thwart the extant descriptions. Three, for the last decade he was happily married to a very nice lady (similar in this to Dennis Rader, the BTK killer in Kansas).
There was a task force assigned to the cases, beginning in 1982 and continuing through all the years, with budgets and staffs varying in size based on the prevailing political mood. Reichert had been in this group all along, starting as a very young detective, and towards the end he was placed in charge. He instituted a review of all suspects that had been questioned in each killing and identified the two strongest. Then he prevailed upon a judge to issue a warrant to demand they provide a DNA sample to be tested against sperm that had been harvested from victims’ bodies many years earlier. Ridgway’s matched; he was arrested and eventually confessed to 48 murders, helping investigators find missing bodies in return for a life sentence instead of the death penalty.
Reichert got the job in Congress as a reward from a grateful community. The downside of these elections by acclamation is that after two years people often figure that the ledger is now even, the debt has been paid. It becomes a scenario of “the second time is the first time,” where the incumbent is asking to be taken seriously as a Congressman, rather than seen as an amateur who was given a sinecure. This forces Reichert to distinguish himself from fellow Republicans by occasionally bucking the party line, particularly on conservation issues that are dear to Washingtonians who prize their state’s arboreous landscape. (Ironically, this very quality endears it to serial killers, because they can leave corpses in forested areas. From Ted Bundy to Ridgway, the list is long.)
Along comes Al Gore, brought in as a hatchet man to undermine Reichert’s credibility as a conservationist. In an onstage appearance at a Seattle University fundraiser for a few Democrat candidates, this pseudo-spontaneous exchange ensued. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels told Gore that Reichert doubts that global warming is caused by humans. Gore responded: “C’mon! And this man is a United States Congressman? You know, 15 percent of people believe the moon landing was staged on some movie lot and a somewhat smaller number still believe the Earth is flat. They get together on Saturday night and party with the global-warming deniers.”
How utterly creepy! Here is a man who solved an old case with new science, who is hardly a crank of any stripe, being scoffed at by a world-class fraud. What has Gore ever done to help a single real person? What are his scientific qualifications? He has no science background or degree of any kind. He is the one signing on to a massive conspiratorial fantasy worthy of Chicken Little. Suddenly the Earth is burning up? And we have the power to reverse it? Each of those premises is a patent absurdity worthy of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Fairy tales.
Unfortunately the politico-cultural winds blow in such a way that Reichert is embarrassed into backtracking and double-talking. In twenty or thirty years from now, Gore and his ilk will be exposed as charlatans and mountebanks of the first order who corrupted science for the sake of political alchemy, turning paranoia into the gold of Federal tax dollars. Gore’s movie is called An Inconvenient Truth; in reality it is A Convenient Lie. It is time for Republicans to find the courage to scoff at the likes of Al Gore, who persist in warming the globe with their hot air.