Al Gore’s back in the public eye, promoting his new book, which naturally raises the question: which mainstream press outlet will be the first to do a vapid hit piece?

Today we have our answer: The New York Times, which has run a truly absurd and embarrassing piece from John Broder. It casts about desperately seeking something sinister about the fact that Gore invests in clean energy technologies. Listen to this piece of dark insinuation:

Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy as Mr. Gore and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes.

Gore is “positioned to profit,” you understand. No wonder he’s dedicated most of his adult life to schlepping around the world giving a slide show to tens of thousands of people! It was all to marginally increase the return on his future investments! Diabolical.

Who is saying this absurd crap? “Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming skeptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world’s first ‘carbon billionaire’ …” Critics like loony Rep. Marsha Blackburn and denialist propaganda hack Marc Morano. These are the people driving the NYT news operation now.

But look down toward the bottom. No, farther … farther … farther … yeah, waaay down in the second-to-last paragraph:

“I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it,” Mr. Gore said, adding that he had put “every penny” he has made from his investments into the Alliance for Climate Protection.

So all the money from Gore’s investments is invested in a nonprofit to fight climate change. He’s not “positioned to profit.” He’s not “poised” to become a “billionaire.” The entire premise of the story is false. I’m sure the tiny percentage of readers who make it down this far in the story will be delighted to discover they’ve completely wasted their time.

To summarize: Professional Gore haters, who make their living peddling lies, cast an absurd charge against Gore. The charge goes in the headline. It goes in the first paragraphs of the story. Then in paragraph 32 it’s revealed that the charge is baseless. And John Broder wasn’t embarrassed to have this appear under his byline.

Oh, and to state the obvious: even if it were true, nobody but a professional Gore hater could possibly find anything wrong with someone investing in the very solutions they say are necessary to save the world. The non-Gore-demented might even find that a perfectly predictable way for a capitalist to respond.

As this Daily Kos diary points out, this seems of a piece with the New York Times‘ stated desire to be more “tuned-in” to Fox and right-wing talk radio. Apparently in our new media age, a baseless charge from ‘wingers is in and of itself justification for an extended story on the nation’s most precious news real estate. Welcome to the future.