At the Environment and Public Works hearing yesterday, Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.) displayed an amazing lack of understanding about energy as he tried to get Gore to make a meaningless pledge. Now the EPW Minority web page repeats the inane charge:

Former Vice President Al Gore refused to take a “Personal Energy Ethics Pledge” today to consume no more energy than the average American household.

But why should Gore take such a pledge? Gore is a champion of greenhouse gas reductions, not energy reductions. Gore explained he buys 100 percent renewable power and is planning to build a solar power system. Thus the electricity Gore consumes in his Tennessee home does not contribute to global warming.

It is conservatives who mistakenly argue that the only way to meet emission reduction targets is by sharply reducing energy use. Conservatives make this argument to try to scare the public into opposing action on climate change. But Gore’s whole point is that smart energy use, including renewables, can allow us to grow the economy while fighting global warming.

Inhofe then introduced another red herring:

There are hundreds of thousands of people who adore you and would follow your example by reducing their energy usage if you did. Don’t give us the run-around on carbon offsets or the gimmicks the wealthy do.

But directly purchasing renewables is completely different from buying carbon offsets, and such purchases are not a gimmick for the wealthy — millions already do the same. Inhofe seems completely unaware of that fact. His entire attack on Gore was both inaccurate and shrill, a sharp contrast to Gore’s statesmanlike tour-de-force, truly a “triumphant return” for the former Representative and Senator.