By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Smearing Al Gore again (and again)

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby today offers a newish twist on the old “Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet, har, har, har” canard — he quotes Gore accurately but twists the meaning. Jacoby’s intent is to mock Gore on global warming. He writes:

In the worlds [sic] of Al Gore, America’s leading global warming apostle: “There’s no more debate. We face a planetary emergency…. There is no more scientific debate among serious people who’ve looked at the evidence.”

But as with other claims Gore has made over the years (“I took the initiative in creating the Internet”), this one doesn’t mesh with reality.

Yet as the incomparable Bob Somerby has meticulously documented, Gore’s claim meshes perfectly with reality. It was Gore, more than any member of Congress, who pushed for the funding and provided the vision needed to lift a tiny, military- and university-oriented network called the ARPANET into the communications tool we have today.

If, after all these years, you still have any doubts, read this Somerby post. Don’t worry about what might strike you as Somerby’s partisan tone — look at the evidence he’s dug up. Here’s a taste, in the form of an excerpt Somerby found in the Guardian from 1988, 12 years before Gore made his comments to CNN:

American computing scientists are campaigning for the creation of a “superhighway” which would revolutionise data transmission.

Legislation has already been laid before Congress by Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, calling for government funds to help establish the new network, which scientists say they can have working within five years, at a cost of $400 million.

Also note that none other than Newt Gingrich, among others, has acknowledged the truthfulness of Gore’s claim. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a major political figure as frequently and casually lied about as Al Gore. This phenomenon surely cost him the presidency in 2000, and I imagine it’s got a lot to do with why he won’t get into the race this time.

By the way, Jacoby also quotes NASA administrator Michael Griffin’s controversial comments that global warming is nothing to get excited about. But he seems to have missed Griffin’s subsequent apology. Keep in mind that Griffin has never denied the reality of global warming. Thus his personal view that we shouldn’t do anything about it has no more value than my personal view that Terry Francona ought to give Jason Varitek more days off.

Monday update: David Bernstein expertly analyzes Jacoby’s anti-global-warming case. “Surely,” Bernstein writes, “if nine oncologists tell Jacoby that he needs a growth removed, and one tells him that the evidence of malignancy was not as strong as the others suggest, he would demand a strong argument for listening to the one over the nine.”


Judge Murphy’s latest money grab


A teaching moment


  1. Rick

    Never Mind Jeff Read the story about the rate of teachers unable to pass the certification exam. The last paragraph”It’s at a do or die stage,” said Sarita Thomas, chairwoman of the caucus and an eighth-grade math teacher in Boston. “We’re losing too many of our good teachers because they’re not given waivers or extra time to pass these tests.” Losing good teachers? the ones who can’t pass a test? This is why I need 2 jobs to keep the kids in private school. More interesting than Jeff writing what Jeff writes every Sunday. IMHO Thanks Dan for letting me rant,

  2. Rick

    I didn’t include a linkno sure if this works

  3. O-FISH-L

    Gore’s claim would be laudable rather than laughable if only he had stated, “I took the initiative in seeking federal funds to create the internet”.Too cute by half, Gore left out “seeking federal funds” so that the average person might infer that he was in a computer lab somewhere, toiling into the wee hours under dim light, devising the technological marvel we now know as the internet. Add to that, he proclaims himself an authority on another highly complex scientific matter (global warming) and the general public just starts laughing at him, and rightly so.One would think that with the tens of millions of donated dollars he has squandered on consultants and advisors over the years, at least one would have reminded him of the old maxim, “nobody likes a know-it-all”.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: Our daughter begins ninth grade this fall … at a Catholic school. (No, we’re not Catholic.) I ran into the chairman of our school committee about five minutes after I’d sent off the first tuition payment. “How are you?” he asked. I resisted the urge to tell him.

  5. Rick

    I know the feeling Dan.It’s worth it however.

  6. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    All I know about Al Gore and the Internet is that the first time I ever heard the expression ‘information superhighway” it came from his lips during the 1988 campaign. I thought it was boring nonsense at the time, and while he may not have initiated the phrase, or even the concept, he certainly brought it to my attention.

  7. Anonymous

    “You want him, you can have him.” Lee J. Cobb. The Globe had a chance to get rid of him–Jacoby– several years ago. They chose not to take it: they blundered.

  8. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    Did you kiss Wily Mo goodbye?

  9. Dan Kennedy

    I’ve got nothing against Wily Mo, and wish him well.

  10. O-FISH-L

    On a day when the Sox could have used some power, the AP reports that Wily Mo homered today for the Nats.”…Hernandez did not allow a hit after Wily Mo Pena went deep in the fourth for his first home run since joining the Nationals on Saturday. New York has won each of El Duque’s last eight starts…”

  11. Anonymous

    I told my girl that she can either be a preppie now and go to public university later, or vise versa. I wasn’t doing both. My bill for a toney all-female school will be more $$$’07-08 than my entire four years of college. Muffy is going to UMass-Lowell ’12.

  12. man who's a Catholic School survivor himself

    Hey Dan, didn’t know you were raising your kids to be atheists! :-)I say that very tongue-in-cheek, but I too was not raised Catholic, and yet I went to a Catholic High School…St.Bernard of Uncasville, specifically…and ironically probably would’ve gotten a better education at the local public HS. SBHS of the early 90’s was in sorry shape academically.Still, given what a mouthy little bastard I was back then (training to be a mouthy big bastard I am today) I think I probably would’ve gotten my ass kicked even more at Fitch Senior High than I did at SBHS. So I suppose it was worth it. But those tuition bills hoit!And yes, four years of exposure to Catholicism’s sole lasting impact was to make me take nothing on faith and to question everything that someone tries to teach me.On reflection, I suppose that IS a good education for today’s world, eh? 🙂

  13. Anonymous

    Again, the Catholic Church is revealed as the atheism training program. But at least they insist kids learn English — in the mastery of your native tongue, way, not the cheap, jingoistic Make English the Official Language of the United States way — and math and, if the kid effs up, he’s gone, not just shunted continually to a detention hall, or labeled for special ed by teachers too harried to demand more effort from him. As they say in Haiti, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”

  14. Rick

    I live in Dorchester and you would have to put a gun against my head to put the kids in any public school in the city of Boston. I would sell the house and move before that happened. When I see politicians kissing the ring of the teachers union as I write another tuition payment for Catholic School it drives me crazy.

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