It's early in the year, but former Vice President Al Gore already has established himself as a leading contender for my prestigious Hypocrite of the Year Award. I haven't honored anyone with that award for several years, ever since then-presidential candidate John Edwards earned it for living like a king while presenting himself as a champion of the "little people." He also cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer. Nice.
Al Gore, who invented the Internet (or so he says), isn't in the same category as the despicable Edwards, but Gore has qualified for my award by flying around the world in private jets to preach sanctimonious and very profitable sermons about climate change and/or global warming - take your pick. He recently improved his chances of winning the award by selling his share of the obscure Current TV network to the Al Jazeera network, which is owned by the government of Qatar, a major oil producer.
Gore was criticized by Current TV employees after he collected a cool $100 million in petro-dollars from the Arab oil sheikhs.
"I certainly understand that criticism. I just disagree with it ... Al Jazeera's climate coverage has been outstanding," he said with a straight face, adding that the network "is a really distinguished and effective news-gathering organization." I might spout that kind of nonsense, too, if someone was paying me $100 million to say it.
As to whether Al Jazeera is a "distinguished news-gathering organization," I have a one-word response: Baloney! Everyone knows that the network is the voice of the undemocratic government of Qatar, just as other international broadcasters, including the BBC and the Voice of America, represent the foreign policies of the (democratic) governments that pay their bills, in addition to covering the news.
The CEO of Al Jazeera is Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the emir of Qatar, who appoints his relatives to top jobs at the "independent" network. According to the respected German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, "Al Jazeera takes a clear position in every country from which it reports, not based on journalistic priorities but on the interests of the Foreign Ministry of Qatar." Meanwhile, Al Gore praises Al Jazeera as an admirable journalistic organization. He should be ashamed of himself, but he'll probably keep the $100 million anyway.
The government of Qatar intends to replace Current TV with something called Al Jazeera America, designed to compete with CNN, Fox News and other U.S. cable networks. Der Spiegel notes that the Arab network "has recently suffered an exodus of prominent staff members ... (because) it's following a clear political agenda and not adhering to the principles of journalistic independence." For example, one former Al Jazeera bureau chief told Der Spiegel that the network has become "the palace broadcaster for (Egyptian) President Mohammad Morsi," a member of the Muslim Brotherhood which endorses the destruction of Israel.
Well, that's why I think Al Gore has earned the Hypocrite of the Year Award, but perhaps you have a more deserving candidate. It's early in the year, so feel free to nominate your own candidate or candidates. After all, there's more than enough hypocrisy to go around in our topsy-turvy world.
• Appeal columnist Guy W. Farmer is always on the lookout for political hypocrisy.