Al Gore, the Oilman Who Hates Oil

The mainstream media has relentlessly hailed Al Gore as a visionary for urging America to get off oil but has essentially ignored the fact that Gore is personally invested in the most cutting edge oil extraction technologies. Media types have called Gore's speech "heroic" and "inspirational."

And the fawning continues. For urging the end of oil in America in a speech last month, Bob Herbert of the New York Times says Gore "is offering us the kind of vision and sense of urgency that has been so lacking in the presidential campaigns," and that his plan is a "visionary energy challenge." Columnist Marsha Mercer says Gore "has big ideas." The Baltimore Sun cheers that Gore's plan "offers the best chance to give the United States a brighter energy future and a cleaner environment."

The Boston Globe's Derrick Z. Jackson writes that the next president should "see what Gore thinks about running the Department of Energy, or the EPA, or both." The Honolulu Star Bulletin writes that Gore's "alarm should be taken seriously." Tom Osborne opines that "Gore's challenge suggests a can-do confidence" in Americans. Not heeding Gore's call "brings the world closer to that tipping point that spells global catastrophe," argues the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gore "provides a voice of reason," says the Centre Daily Times (Pennsylvania). Columnist Marianne Means says he's "a prophet in his own time." The Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, N.Y.) opines that Gore "does serve to keep the environment in the public conscience." The Contra Costa Times (California) said Gore "made a point that is well worth heeding."

One of the few media figures not to laud Gore was Fox News political contributor Ellen Ratner. She aims to outflank Gore on the left. Ratner, who is the sister of Michael Ratner, a Che Guevara admirer who heads the Center for Constitutional Rights, an ultraleftist anti-American public interest law firm, wants the U.S. government to form its own oil company:

"Instead of giving our oil resources to multinational oil companies, what if we formed our own company owned by our government? What if the oil from new drilling sites was owned by citizens, and that oil could only be used in the United States? What if our government made the profit and we took that money to develop new alternative sources? Many of the oil companies in the Mid-East are owned either directly or indirectly by the government. We see the wealth they have developed. Why not us?"

But I digress. The above sampling of mainstream media opinion on Gore and his speech is by no means exhaustive.

That said, the actual evidence suggests Gore isn't quite as noble as selfless as star-struck journalists believe.

Gore is a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, a venture capital firm. Kleiner Perkins pours investment dollars into green energy companies and not-so-green ones. An investment firm Gore chairs, Generation Investment Management (GIM), entered into a partnership with Kleiner Perkins to "provide funding and global business-building expertise to a range of businesses, both public and private, and to entrepreneurs." Gore makes money by promoting investments that bear the imprimatur of Kleiner Perkins and GIM - including those in the supposedly dirty oil business.

So Al Gore is not only in the global warming business: he's in the oil business. This isn't Gore's first oil venture either: for years he's profited from oil investments. Like any smart businessman, he hedges his bets. If the global warming business eventually peters out, he can always make millions from black gold.

Here are the particulars. Within the Kleiner Perkins portfolio are three companies knee-deep in the fossil fuel business. One is GreatPoint Energy, which plans to convert coal into natural gas. Another is the secretive Terralliance Technologies, which describes itself on its sparse website as "an oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) company." Fortune reports that Terralliance "has already dug 100 wells around the world and is in the processing of raising additional capital," and that it "has developed software that purports to make it easier and cheaper to find and extract oil and natural gas."

As Fortune reporter Adam Lashinsky notes, "It would be ironic, to say the least, if Kleiner's first ‘green' jackpot turns out to be a company that actually drills for oil." [italics in original] (Here is a link to a New York Times article from last year about the fossil fuel investments of Kleiner Perkins.)

Kleiner Perkins is also invested in GloriOil, which Fortune reports "designs microbes that, when injected into oil wells, increase oil production and decrease use of water."

It looks like Al Gore, the oilman who supposedly hates oil, has some explaining to do, especially given his recent crusade against oil.

It was almost three weeks ago that Al Gore challenged Americans to "move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes" by jumping on his alternative energy bandwagon. In a much-hyped speech July 17, the former vice president urged the nation "to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years."

Gore acknowledged that achieving his ambitious goal would be difficult: "To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles."

"To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world," Gore said. His activist group, the Alliance for Climate Protection, guesstimates that changing the nation over to so-called clean sources of electricity will cost up to $3 trillion over three decades.

Ironically, one of the many obstacles to "reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years" is none other than the wily Al Gore himself. That's because even though he claims Americans must work to end their dependence on oil and must stop generating electricity using fossil fuels within a decade or face certain catastrophe, Gore continues to have a financial interest in fossil fuels.

As I wrote before, Al Gore vigorously denies he plans to profit from the global warming hysteria he has helped to create and the media lets him gets away with it. But as Noel Sheppard pointed out, Gore doesn't quite have his story straight. He slipped up in March by admitting he's invested in green energy "investments."

Maybe Gore needs some new handlers.

(For more on Gore and his financial adventures, see "Al Gore's Carbon Empire: Cashing in on Climate Change," by Fred Lucas, Foundation Watch, August 2008, and "Al Gore's Carbon Crusade: The Money and Connections Behind It," by Deborah Corey Barnes, Foundation Watch, August 2007. This blog post is a modified version of a Capital Research Center blog post.)