By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
Last week Al Gore released a very thought-provoking book The Assault On Reason. Vice President Gore’s book has been very well-received and it quickly reached Number 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list and now theNew York Times best-seller list.
The Assault On Reason is a remarkable look at where we are as a country, and where we might end up if we don’t alter course. It also is remarkable for this day and age because it was written entirely by Mr. Gore, without the aid of a ghostwriter – something that has not been noted much.
“The Assault On Reason” is an important book that examines how decisions are made in American politics in our day and age. It discusses how changes in our world have made us less reliant on reason and logic and this, in turn, has that led to serious policy mistakes like ignoring global warming, and the Iraq war and occupation.
Like many who have read the book, and heard Mr. Gore speak passionately about it, we had hoped that this book would trigger the much-needed national conversation about what has been happening to us — about why we make policy and candidate decisions based on nonsense slogans and insults instead of sound science-based, reasoned discussion.
In Gore on Fire, Dave wrote,
Gore says our country’s problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. … And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this. … This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.
The book hit Number 1 just in time for one of the clearest examples of the right-wing strategy of use of smear and fear and sophmoric humor to distract the public from the important issues of our time that you will see.
In our post predicting the coming attacks we wrote,
Because he is standing up, telling the truth and because he simply is a Democrat and Progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared mercilessly by the right-wing smear machine. He will be ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.
There is no clearer example of this pathetically high-school mocking than a recent piece by Brent Bozell in the Media Research Center column, Al Gore, Media Scholar?, Bozell mocks Gore and “liberals”, writing,
Like many liberals with the itch to micromanage our lives, Gore clearly believes the American people are ignorant to the point of endangerment. So he’s become a media scholar, and unloaded his communications theories in a book excerpt hyped by his friends at Time magazine.
[. . .] It’s a common liberal conceit: liberalism is the very definition of sweet reason, so an attack on liberalism is an “assault on reason.” Democracy is only truly democratic when the Democrats are in charge. Debates aren’t truly informative unless the liberals win the argument. The same holds true for elections.
[. . .] Isn’t it Al Gore who’s been wandering throughout the media telling them it’s way too late for a “national conversation” on global warming? That the people who disagree with him aren’t really part of a debate, or players in a democracy, but an evil array of corporate publicity tools who have no belief in Science (and Reason)? That only foster confusion? There’s very little difference between Al Gore and Hugo Chavez on a censor-conservatives creed.
Al Gore and Hugo Chavez? That’s a pathetic, stupid pairing right out of the high school playground. But look at their web site, we wouldn’t expect more. One thing that is interesting is Conservatives love to claim that the media is liberal. But ask for a single example and it stuns them into silence.
Note the top cable network, FOX, is right of right and that the top radio hosts, Rush, Hannity, are right of right. Mention the newspapers that are right of right and still: the mantra spews forth.
So who are these guys?
The Media Research Center is a non-profit 501c3 organization that receives funding from ExxonMobil. MRC is a lynchpin in the right wing machine we hear so much about. Their rants are echoed by outlets ranging from Drudge to FOX NEWS – giving them credibility they clearly do not deserve. From there, all too often, mainstream media picks up on the narratives and suddenly, they are established fact.
Of course, the reason that MRC cares so much about denigrating Mr. Gore has nothing to do with the premise of his book and quite a bit to do with protecting the business interests of its donors. It is a remarkable abuse of the system that while MRC smears Democratic Leader after Democratic Leader, ExxonMobil gets a tax deduction for funding these front-groups for this global-warming-denial campaign of smear and fear against Al Gore and others who are trying to get this country to join the rest of the world to combat the threat from global warming.
Earlier they attacked Cheryl Crow and Laurie David for their global warming concert tour. At the time, we wrote,
For anyone who wants us to connect the dots, here they are.
1. Newsbusters is a project of The Media Research Center.
2. Media Research Center is, believe it or not, a charitable organization so if you give money to them, you get a tax deduction.
Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501 (c)(3) non profit research and education foundation.
3. Media Research recently gave Rush Limbaugh an award for “Media Excellence.” We can’t make this shit up if we tried.
4. And who gives them a nice $50,000 check every year? And gets the tax deduction? ExxonMobil.
Let’s be clear.
Global Warming is not a political issue, it is a scientific fact.
Now with the book hitting Number 1, they turn their sites on Mr. Gore – just as the machine did after he was part of the team that won the Oscar.
How they created that firestorm over a potentially stolen and certainly misleading electrical bill is here. It was the same process. A “think tank” releases a false press release without checking the facts in any manner. This press release is picked up by Drudge and FOX NEWS. Soon, it is in the mainstream media who, frankly, fails to see the story for what it is (exception was Keith Olbermann.)
This is the time for people to understand what Smoking Politics is doing. This is a clear example of what we are working to fight against. It’s a critical issue because if your work, or campaign, can be so easily and quickly sent off-course by a lie, aided by the fourth estate’s indifference to facts and the truth, why would you work so hard or campaign so long? There has to be a basis of truth and honesty within the system to keep good people in the race.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists report, Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to “Manufacture Uncertainty” on Climate Change, ExxonMobil, “like the tobacco industry in previous decades, has”
* raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific evidence
* funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings
* attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for “sound science” rather than business self-interest
* used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming
And according to Greenpeace, counter to Exxon’s claims, Exxon is still funding the climate deniers! They write,
This is the company which, apparently, has been “misunderstood” on global warming and has said it has dropped its funding of the deniers.
The ExxonSecrets people have gone through the documents, and found a clear answer: last year Exxon spent $2.1 million on 41 groups who are leading the climate skeptic industry.
According to the Exxon Foundation 2005 report to the IRS [PDF - 174 pages] “Exxon told the IRS that that it funded 14 groups specifically for their climate change work.”
These climate-denial front-groups are using many of the same arguments — obscuring the science and talking about “personal choice” — that were used to keep tobacco sales strong and government involvement at a minimum for decades after it became clear that the product was killing hundreds of thousands of Americas.
Smoking Politics has been helping fight this fight. We are working to expose the smears and lies that are used to distract the people of this country from attacking the problems we face. Earlier this month we began a post describing our mission, writing,
There was a time when this country worked to solve its problems.
There was a time in this country when political campaigns were about issues and solutions and ideas.
There was a time when our legislators honestly debated, and minds could be changed, and bipartisan laws could be passed.
There was a time when America was seen as an honest broker for peace, even in the Middle East. And there was even a time when there were solar panels on roof of the White House.
As Mr. Gore notes in his book, there wasn’t a Golden Age of American politics when all was fair and the country made perfect decisions. But from the swiftboating of Al Gore to the mocking of Nancy Pelosi, from the destruction of Max Cleland to the attacks on Jimmy Carter, it is clear that it has never been worse than it is right now.
Please visit our site Smoking Politics and learn more. Please call and write your newspapers.
Please stand up and say enough’s enough. This isn’t a Democratic cry for justice. Or a bash at Republicans. It’s just a simple statement: if we get to the point where truth, logic and reason don’t matter at all as a country and as a people, we are in trouble that we may never recover from in our lives.